Sunday, May 11, 2014

How to Trade Your Lunch for a Trip to Thailand

Recently, I've tried my best to avoid the Chicken Cashew Nut, the Butter Chicken and the Gyro wraps in an effort to be healthier physically and financially. I began thinking to myself, what can I do with the money I save if I pack my own lunch? Was my mom onto something when she continuously preached this idea to me?
This is where you get Chicken Cashew Nut in Thailand
As I want to continue exploring the world, putting that money towards travel seemed reasonable. With flights to Hong Kong just above $700 CAD round trip, from Portugal to Toronto getting down to as low as $94 CAD one-way, from Warsaw to Stockholm for $0.33 one way, I really didn't need to save that much (Those flights all include taxes and fees, by the way). This is where the thoughts came for this post.

As these thoughts came into my head, the stars aligned. I came across this Volkswagen commercial:

Volkswagen may also be onto something with this lunch trade-in! 

$6 per lunch is great and all, but I find myself spending more than $6 per lunch at Subway.  So I have decided to use a conservative $10 per lunch for the example. Typically a flight from Toronto to somewhere in Thailand will cost you $1,200-$1,400. Why not pay less and see more of the world? Off to Thailand for some real chicken cashew nut! 

Source: Ben Thanh Waterloo, ON, Canada - $9.95 Thai Cashew Nut Chicken
I'm going to use Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, Canada as a starting point. Many of my friends claim that flight deals don't come to Canada. If YYZ Deals, Skyscanner and Google Flights aren't showing anything worth a second glance (meaning anything around $300-$400 all incl. one way), shift your efforts to flights through Europe and see more of the world with your trip. Combinations with bus lines through the USA can also be used. Flight deals come and go as they please, the bus lines have resurrected as low-cost alternatives.

Greyhound from Toronto to NYC can cost you $33 CAD, but I challenge you to get it cheaper. If you really want to get creative, check out Megabus. Below you'll see Toronto to Buffalo, NY for $8 CAD. Megabus is known to have tickets as low as $1 CAD. From there, you can fly from Buffalo to a bigger city before Europe (e.g. with Spirit) or take a bus to NYC. It all depends on how much time you have and what your budget is.

If you chose to go through the USA, Norwegian is a noteworthy airline. How about a couple days exploring the Big Apple? Next, how about you take a couple days to find out why the standard of living is so high in Norway? How does $194 one-way from NYC to Oslo, Norway sound? The catch is that you have to pack light and bring your own food, otherwise you have to pay marginally more for your ticket.

Note: Within Europe, your best bet on flight deals is with either Ryanair, WizzAir, or EasyJet. Megabus may also be a worthy low-cost alternative. 
Alright, we're in Europe and the Chicken Cashew Nut is almost ready for us! Below is another screenshot of a flight search from Norwegian Airlines. And again, these costs go up and down, but it's not crazy to assume under $200 from Oslo, Norway to Bangkok, Thailand each way!

I'm starting to get hungry. Let's bring this all together. Here's the proposed itinerary and approximate pricing:

3 continents, 4 countries, 4 cities and under $1,000. For a couple more dollars (literally) you can extend your stay in Europe or Asia. Again, I suggest travel with discount airlines or bus lines.

Sure the above may not represent the most logical path. If you want to squeeze that penny for everything it's worth and don't mind sleeping on a plane here and there, give it a try. It's really not that bad. It's also a great way to check off several different places off the bucket-list and see how people live half way across the world.  Ideally, you want to spend anywhere for 4-7 days in each location, in my opinion.

Assuming that $10 lunch, here's how to trade your lunch for a trip to Thailand:

Lastly, remember that although these deals come and go, travel deals are typically a tradeoff between your time and your money. If you are flexible with your dates and times, than a trip to Thailand for chicken cashew nut is closer than you may think.

*NOTE: The above does not include food, accommodation (try hostels or Couchsurfing), entertainment, buses from/to the airports and any other day-to-day expenses that may occur. Vaccines are also recommended for travel to Thailand.