5-Star Travel on a Budget, Busby Style
One of the most common questions we get is, “How do you afford all your travel?” For starters, we work with a lot of rad sponsors/partners that believe in what we do. Secondly, we SAVE. Like it’s our job… because, well… it is our job. We forego things at home in Montana so that we can add more to our travel fund. Those new jeans you see on sale? To us, those jeans represent a night at an authentic Moroccan kasbah this February. When we drive our veggie oil-fueled VW Golf into Glacier National Park, we take the money we would have spent on gasoline, and put that toward our upcoming adventure in Japan. Our penny-pinching mentality aside, we’ve also learned to work the system with airline points, credit card rewards, and discount/sales on travel experiences. I assure you, we rarely pay full price for a trip.
Another note: I’m not sure if this surprises you, but we aren’t staying in 5-star luxury hotels when we travel. No robes, no slippers, and no hoity-toity travelers looking to get drunk in Senior Frogs and spend loads of money on tourist traps and T-shirts that say “I survived Yellowstone.” Rather, we opt for home-spun guesthouses and family living—our version of 5-star accommodation. This “dirtbag” lifestyle on the road has led us to some of the most amazing, clean, friendly places. It saves us money and gives us rich, cultural experiences in return.
For example, we stay with a number of families during our time in New Zealand each year. Same in Australia. In addition to serving up a healthy portion of good conversation, our Kiwi friends cook up some incredible lamb roasts, complete with All Blacks rugby games to watch on TV afterward. Shout out to the Codys and the Windells! This past August, we stay with some new friends and they served up incredible food with 5-star presentation. (Bridget—we’re still waiting for your cookbook!) No joke, this was for real:
Or, if you’re Sean, you cram yourself and two of your clients in a pop-top camper during New Zealand’s winter so you can chase storms across the South Island with ease, and not pay for lodging anywhere. (I’m not sad I missed that trip… imagine the stench of three male snowboarders. In a van. No, thank you!)
Another instance comes to mind—spending Christmas with the extended family of Anu and Dani of La Despani guesthouse in Brasov, Romania. Dani’s parents live in the heart of old Brasov and cooked up an authentic Romanian meal for their family (and us). Although Dani’s parents didn’t speak English, the rest of the group kept us informed of what was going on.
I believe here they were explaining that this is some sort of homemade alcohol and why we should drink it:
Anu took this photo, and Dani is on the far right next to Sean. He and Anu have two sons (the boys shown) who entertained us with American Christmas songs on the guitar. They also had another pair of friends in town (back left) who were able to experience this delicious meal:
We spent an authentic Uzbek New Years Eve with a group of the most generous, joyful local skiers/new friends in Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan in 2012. Check out this spread! This was just the start of the feast:
Hayat (in red) and his team/family made us feel so welcome in his home:
And there might have been dancing involved. Here’s me, trying to bust a move Kyrgyzstan-style:
In Norway this April, we lodged together in one room—all 5 of us—switching out rank ski/snowboard boots from the boot dryers, each time a new stench wafting into the air, while trying to keep our small space within the space clean. Keyword: trying.
When we weren’t cooking our own meals with GSI pots and pans on the front porch, we were enjoying time with our hosts, David and Ana and their 3 kids, dining on hearty Norwegian reindeer/mushroom/ski cheese stew and potatoes.
And not to mention, our veggie-oil/solar powered Travel Queen. It’s not easy to live with three other people and a dog in a 27-foot motorhome for 32 days. But we did it… because we wanted to go to Alaska. No flights. No gasoline. Just easy living with strict submarine rules.
Sometimes, it’s not about where you stay, but who you stay with. If you ever have questions, shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to share our tips!