Interview with a Savings Expert: Michael Hodson

Most people only dream about quitting their regular lives and becoming a permanent traveler. But Michael Hodson actually made it a reality. He’s traveled all around the world, using his blog, Go See Write, to document his adventures. We quizzed Michael about the best ways to find bargains when planning a trip. Read on to find out his super helpful tips!

Go See Write covers all of your traveling adventures. You’re actually an attorney, but in 2008, you decided to circumnavigate the globe. What inspired this initial journey, and what prompted you to create a blog about it?

The reason for the blog was simple. I both wanted to keep family and friends informed about my trip, and I also wanted it as a note-taking device for a book I wanted to write about the experience. As to why I did it, I just love travel and wanted to do something challenging and interesting. I thought going around without flying might just qualify for interesting -- and it did, for sure.

Your blog is filled with insights into your travels, and you’ve even written some personal musings about your own life. Are there some areas of your life that you’ve decided to keep off the blog?

Absolutely. I don’t write about any personal relationships on the blog, and I always use pseudonyms for any person I mention on the site at all. No one signed up to be in my personal website, and I don’t think it is appropriate to drop them in it.

You’ve contributed several articles to Huffington Post over the last few years. How do you decide which travel topics to cover for this site and for your blog?

There might be a theme developing in my life, how I travel, and my organizational failings. I’m really not that organized, so I post things on HuffPost when I feel like it and the topics are a little mix of whatever strikes me in the moment.

As a dedicated traveler, you’ve written about some of the gear you’ve tested. What are 2 or 3 essential supplies every serious traveler should own?

I’ll answer in the form of a non-permanent traveler, like I am, because for me the necessities are work things, namely camera equipment and computer and hard drives and such. But for regular travelers, I’d say they need an iPod, so they have something to keep them company on solo bus or train rides, a camera to record the experiences of their travels, and deodorant (please, don’t be French).

Our CouponPal readers are all about finding good deals on travel. What are some of the ways you save on flights or hotels?

The best flight search out there is Matrix Airfare Search. You can’t book flights from it, but the search engine is the best thing available today. I don’t really have a great hotel search option, since I’ve found all the sites are roughly the same, but I will say if you are doing any rail travel in Europe, the best website to find train schedules across country lines is Bahn.com.

One travel expense that can end up costing a ton is food. How do you find inexpensive places to enjoy the local cuisine during your trips?

The best tip is to ask the locals. Do yourself a favor and don’t ask the concierge at any hotel, since they are likely going to point you to more expensive places, but if you are looking for good cheap eats, ask the cheap experts -- go to a local hostel (if you aren’t staying at one, you can find them at Hostel World) and ask the people working there.

It’s hard to name a destination you haven’t been to! In what locale were you able to find the best bargains?

In western Europe, the cheapest places that I love are Lisbon and Berlin. In South America, go to Colombia -- now! In Southeast Asia, it is all pretty cheap, but try Laos and Cambodia over Thailand. You’ll have a hard time finding any bargains in either Australia or New Zealand, though I love both, and similarly, Africa is more expensive than you’d first imagine.

You’ve pretty much been a permanent traveler for several years. What advice would you give to readers who want to quit their 9-to-5 and explore the world?

This is going to sound horrible, but my advice is that almost every single person thinking about it shouldn’t do it. It is a really difficult task to work while traveling and make enough money to keep doing this permanently. That being said, if someone wants to quit their job and plan on traveling for 6 months to 18 months on savings (not working while they travel) and go back and work again, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. The biggest advice I have is to not plan much at all. You will meet some amazing people on the road and learn about places you want to go see that you have never heard of. Don’t book all your flights in advance and be tied into moving -- you won’t want to. Buy a one way ticket somewhere and just start wandering.

You have more than 31,000 (!) followers on Twitter. Have you ever received any interesting travel tips from fans through social media?

Tons. I love my followers on Twitter and Facebook. I regularly get pointed to places to eat, when I tell people I’m in a certain place. The other tips I ask for and receive a lot are great places to take photographs and video. Getting advice from people that have been there is the best way to go.

It was so great of you to answer our questions! Any last words of advice for our CouponPal readers?

Travel well. Travel often. Seriously, get out there and just do it. It took me about 10 years to work up the courage to go on my first solo international trip, but once I did it, I quickly realized how easy and fun it is. If you speak English, you are so far ahead of the game -- almost everyone you deal with in travel speaks it well enough for you to get by. And if you are solo, you will meet far, far more people and make more lifetime friends than you ever would if you were traveling with friends. There should be nothing stopping you from taking a good international trip in the next year. Do it…then post up your experiences on my Facebook Fan page, so I can hear about it.

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with a Savings Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #SavingsExperts to @CouponPal!

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