What is DIY or Independent Travel?

diy travel photo Mons Klint Copenhagen
Simply asking the locals what we should see led us to Mons Klint in Denmark. Gorgeous!

What I call DIY or Independent travel is exactly what it sounds like; travel you plan together and execute on your own. Traditionally, our choices for putting together complex travel plans consist of hiring a travel agent to do it or buying a guidebook, doing some internet research, and winging it. I’d like to see a third option that allows curious and independent travelers to confidently plan and travel without breaking the bank. So, I’m making one! I’m taking all the travel planning skills I’ve learned over the years and teaching them to you. It’s no longer just for the “professionals”, it’s for all of us.

DIY Travel Allows Freedom to Explore

I’ve always shied away from the idea of a structured tour group or the package offerings from travel agents for a few reasons. First, I’m typically not interested in every single thing on a tour itinerary and would rather have the time to explore whatever looks interesting in the moment–something I learned about after I arrived, or suggestions from locals.

Second, the traditional package deals tend to put you in a standard hotel, which tends to be much more expensive than other accommodation options. Personally, I need a place to sleep, shower, and store my things. Since I’m going to be out exploring most of the time, I don’t require all the amenities you pay for with a hotel. I would rather spend the extra money on great meals, since food is my favorite way to experience a new place!

diy travel photo Reffen street food market
Enjoying my favorite street food market, Reffen, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Independent travel allows you much more choice and flexibility in how you spend your money, based on what you value. If a comfortable room is important to you, spend more on your accommodation and save money by taking public transportation. There are so many ways to mix and match!

Lastly, the package deals are usually only for one destination, and I like to see more. For example, if I have two weeks to spend in Germany and I’m flying into Berlin, I’m not going to just stay there. I’ll want to take a train, bus, or rent a car to see Dresden and Leipzig or maybe even head north toward Denmark. I might want to visit Poland or Czechia, if I can find a good flight home from one of those places.  Because this is how I like to travel, I’ve spent the last decade buying a guide book and winging it.

How I Learned To Travel Independently

In the beginning, I was paying significantly more than I needed to, especially for flights. It wasn’t until 2014, when my husband Stan and I took a trip with his son and my nephew that I really started to discover some great tricks for finding much cheaper flights and building our itineraries around them. That trip was about four weeks long, we flew from Los Angeles to Edinburgh and returned from Berlin. We had stops in 8 countries and 10 major cities. It was a whirlwind, to be sure and planning that one took some serious time and effort! We saw so much more than we would have on an organized tour, plus we found plenty of interesting things that weren’t in any guide book simply by talking to the locals we met.

Since then, I’ve been refining my research methods and finding great new resources to save time and money. I’ve saved thousands of dollars on flights alone in the last five years using these skills! I love teaching the ways of independent travel so more people will see it’s totally accessible and affordable. Go see this incredible world we live in! Here’s a free course to get you started saving on flights and there’s more coming at the end of June! Sign up for emails here and be the first to know when there’s new DIY travel knowledge available. 😊

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