Hopping on a plane to another country can expand your horizons and slash your bills by more than fifty-percent.
A Life Less Ordinary
According to the US Department of State, only about one out of every three Americans even has a passport. That means there are over two hundred Americans, who don’t even have the option of traveling abroad. Getting a new passport costs around $150, so I can understand why people don’t do it unless travel is in the cards.
Most of our population is literally trapped within our borders. They will never see any of the Seven Wonders of the World. They will never experience the wonder that our world truly offers. The best thing about the modern age is how quickly we can travel to amazing places.
I love on the opposite side of the planet from my parents. And yet I can see them tomorrow if I hop on a plane today. Travel costs are plummeting and the time is ripe to see the world.
Even beyond the tax savings and lower cost of living, the best reason to see the world is because you can. Our grandparents didn’t have this option. You can see the largest waterfall in the world and meet people from amazing cultures. Expand your horizons and live the life most people only dream of.
The Scourge of Taxes
The United States is one of only two countries in the world that taxes its citizens who work abroad. That is annoying, but there are some great advantages to your tax situation.
The first is that you get an automatic 2-month extension on your taxes. If you have the money set aside in an interest-earning account, you can make a little more money before you pay the government. Additionally, you can easily get an extension until October. This is what the wealthy do so that their tax dollars can work on their behalf longer.
There are a bunch of really great tax benefits. The first is that you don’t pay taxes on the first $100,000 that you earn.. The number changes every year. This number changes every year and is much higher than the eighty-five grand it was last time I checked!
You can also get a tax rebate on money you spend on housing and food. I don’t want to give you too specific tax advice, but if you set up your situation, correctly you can easily owe nothing in taxes every year.
Can you think of any other way to increase your net income by thirty-percent in a single day? It’s pretty amazing!
Cost of Living
It’s hard to stay up with costs of living between different cities. That’s why this awesome calculator from Expatistan is so useful. They update it all the time. I just updated it with a bunch of information about my little island.
I just did a little test and discovered that the cost of living in Bangkok, Thailand is HALF that of Los Angeles, California. I’ve spent a lot of time in both cities. Bangkok is super modern with all the same level of infrastructure and amazing restaurants. The weather is phenomenal.
By moving cities, you increase your income by thirty percent and slash your cost of living in half. Even if you make 40% of your old salary by working online, you can move to this wonderful city with ZERO loss in quality of life. That’s pretty cool.
Check it out to compare other cities.
Passports and Visas
Citizens from the United States can visit 174 countries without needing a visa. If you’re from another country, you’ll have to check your exact stats. The information is always changing, and the first place I check is Wikipedia. For some reason, they always have the most up to date travel information.
Each country you decide to visit will have different rules. What you want to do is a little research. Many countries let you stay for thirty days just by showing up at the airport. You only need to show them a paper ticket with your flight leaving in less than thirty days. Before your thirty days are up, many countries let you extend for 30-90 more days.
The rules are constantly changing. You want to check the current information on the countries that you like the most based on Cost of Living and other factors. Certainly, places are harder than others. You can visit Europe right now for 90 days with a Shengen Visa. You can stay in the Schengen countries for 90 days out of every 180. So you can spend 90 days bouncing around those countries, then visit a non-Schengen country for 90 days and come back.
You can also get a one-year visa for France by applying through their consulate. It takes a month to go through the process, but it’s a great way to spend a year in Europe. It’s pretty painless and you can by eating croissants by the Eiffel Tower in a month!
Sweden has a similar option for a one-year visa. Now, don’t go making plans just yet because their process can take up to eight months to approve you! You just have to jump through some hoops and prove you can support yourself. Because I love you, I even got a link to the application formfor you!
Italy has a similar one-year visa that you can get. Just prove that you can support yourself and promise not to work while you are there. You can find all of their visa application forms at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Many countries in South America and Asia let you renew your visa every month for 6-12 months. Then you simply have to leave the country for 1-3 days and start all over again. Fro many of these countries, the visas are a foreigner tax. I renew my visa every two months, and it’s the way that I pay taxes to the government here. Compared to US taxes, it’s nothing.
Some of the great countries that let you basically stay indefinitely this way are Argentina, Chile, Belize, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Taiwan.
I have a simple process for checking out a new country. I learned my lesson when I went to India, and the Internet was so terrible that I couldn’t watch a YouTube video for three months. Not all countries are created equal. Many developing countries invest heavily in building up their infrastructure.
The first step is to check the average connection speeds of every country. This will give you a good baseline about a country you are considering. This information is interesting, but it’s the average over the whole country.
What you want to know is the connection speed in the city you want to live in. My process is simple. I contact the owner of the house or the hotel I want to rent. I ask them to run a connection test and send me a screenshot of the results.
The only speed test site that I like to use is Speedtest.net. This image above is an example of a slow connection. You can see how far away the test is running. The bottom left tells you the IP address and the rating of the Internet company there.
This lets you know if they try to send you a fake result. (This has never happened to me). There are three numbers at the top. Those are all that I focus on.
This is the result of a test that I ran right now on my island. I’m on an island in the tropics about ten meters from the water.
The first number is called the PING. That is how fast my computer says hello to the Internet. Have you ever made a Skype call and there was a lot of lag and delay? That is a sign your ping is too high. The lower, the better.
The download speed is how fast you can pull things from the Internet to your computer. The upload speed is how fast you can send files to other people.
For me, the upload speed is more important. I record a lot of videos for my training courses and clients I’m working with. If the upload speed is too slow, I would have to put the info on a memory disk and mail it to them. That’s not the ideal solution. Make sure both numbers are acceptable to you.
My download speed has been as high as 25Mbs and I can honestly worth with anything about 3. That’s my experience traveling all over the world. Upload speed is much more important to me and the faster, the better!
Healthcare Around the World
In many countries, the healthcare is so good that people fly there just to enjoy it. This medical tourism is on the rise and a sure sign that medical care worldwide is improving. The most popular countries for medical tourism are Thailand, Mexico, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, Taiwan, and Costa Rica.
The main thing I look for is a hospital with JCI accreditation. This process takes two years and is an international standard. I don’t look at domestic accreditation because I have no way to measure that. Just because a hospital is the best in the country, does not mean it’s a place I want to go.
You can search for JCI accredited hospitals around the world in just a few seconds.
The main thing for me is having access to the medical care I need and living healthy. I’m much healthier than I was living in the West. I get sick a lot less here. The air is cleaner, and it is so easy to be active living on the beach.
Depending on your age and medical situation, you may need fast access to a tier one facility. In my country, there are six JCI facilities and the nearest one is a 40-minute flight away. That’s better than many rural towns in America.
Stay Longer – Spend Less
The first place I look for travel right now is AirBNB. Now, I’m not currently living in a house I found through them. But I have used them in many countries in the past, and they are the best baseline for pricing.
The prices are consistently lower than hotels, and if you need two bedrooms, the savings get astronomical. Again, this is just where I start my research. You can often find the perfect place to stay on AirBNB. I just found my place before they put up a profile.
This is a random house I found for rent on a beautiful tropical island in Thailand. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a nice little pool. The kind of place I would love to stay. To spend a single night costs $75. For my demo booking, 22 days will cost me $1776. That’s not too bad for a slice of paradise.
This is a pretty good price. You pay the same $75 a night for one day or twenty-two. There are two things I always look for when booking – weekly discounts and monthly discounts. For this particular house, they don’t do weekly discounts. The house is popular enough that they don’t offer a discount for less than a month, but look what happens when I extend my stay eight more days!
The price drops. They have a 15% discount if you rent for a month, and that’s pretty sweet. Now, this is a really small example. Some places offer much larger discounts right out the gate. I have seen 10% for weekly and 30% for monthly.
So you get an extra week in paradise and the property costs less. From here I would email the owner and see if I can talk them down a little more. I always interact with the property owner before I make a booking. That way you can confirm you are on the same page, and there are no surprises.
Longer stays don’t just apply to renting houses like this. At many hotels now they are running a promotion of buy two days get one free. I never even heard of a promotion like that until I started exploring. Many hotels offer long term stays, ranging from budget hotels around the world to boutique hotels in some of the most exclusive cities.
I was just looking at a high-end hotel in London. They knock 15% off the price for weekly stays, and if you are going to stay longer than a month, they encourage you to call and negotiate them down.
Cruising for Pennies
Finding a great cruise at a great price only takes a few minutes of research. One of my buddies, Tynan, built an amazing site to help you find cheap repositioning cruises called Cruise Sheet. These are longer, one-way cruises. Instead of going in a circle you end up somewhere amazing.
This is how you can cross the ocean in style. These cruises are great because they are limited to people who have enough free time. They never fill up, so it’s easy to score a great deal.
You want to focus on the cost per day and anything under fifty bucks is pretty good, but under thirty is certainly possible.
Once you find the cruise you want, head over to Cruise Compete to start a bidding war. You can put a post saying that you are looking for the lowest cost per day. Let them know that onboard credit is fine with you. So you might pay fifty dollars a day, but get twenty dollars in spendable shipboard currency to make up the difference.
This site allows independent agents to bid for your business. You will get the lowest price possible using this method. Not every cruise line allows bidding, but most of them do.
The important thing to remember about cruises is that all prices assume two people in the room. When you add a third and fourth person, sometimes the price just drops through the floor. Sometimes it is only $100 for each extra person. So a bigger room with you and your kids is cheaper than two inferior rooms.
The Twenty Dollar Upgrade
This technique is built around Las Vegas and is a great way to get an upgrade. I learned this technique from a website called the Twenty Dollar Trick. They explain the technique very succinctly. I’ve never looked back!
The twenty dollar bill trick is sweeping the travel industry and becoming extremely popular, especially in Las Vegas. When you check into a hotel, you simply slip the front desk clerk a $20 bill with your credit card, while asking “Do you have any complimentary upgrades available?”. The general rule of thumb is that the front desk clerk will check for upgrades and if they cannot find anything they will return the $20 tip, making it risk-free!
The great thing about this site is they track success rate. You can see the last places people tried and their results. I find that most people who fail didn’t do it right. The key is to be subtle. A lot of people are laying the money on the counter for some reason, and that’s causing the failure.
The first time I tried this, I was so nervous. I stuck to the script and got upgraded to a lovely suite for a week. I’ve never looked back!
Super Cheap Flights Around the World
The best way to save on flights is constantly changing. Flight deals sometimes sell out or disappear in a matter of hours. The main source of the best information is Flyer Talk Forum. I have been getting travel information there for years.
You can find amazing trip discounts, the best credit cards for miles and tons of other ways to maximize your flight experience.
The first place to check out is the mileage run forum. This is where people post amazing flight deals that also let you rack up air miles.
Another great trick is to setup Kayak Price Alerts. You just put in your home airport (and any you are willing to drive to) and then the cities you are interested in. You set the alert to only notify you if the price is below your maximum. I have it set to notify me of any amazing deals daily.
This is a great tool for surprise trips on the cheap.
Sometimes you get the flight you want, but not the seat. For help getting bumped to Business Class or at least out of that accursed middle seat, ExpertFlyer is the tool. You probably don’t need the paid version unless you are flying a lot more than I am. It’s a great resource for finding the best seat on the plane.