Sustainable Travel · · 7 min read

Learn to Travel Smarter with Clint Johnston and Triphackr

Clint has travel hacked through over 60 countries. He never pays full price, and always gets the most out of every travel adventure. Triphackr was created to share the tips and travel hacks that he has learned from years of traveling. He shares a few of them here in our conversation. Where and how d

Learn to Travel Smarter with Clint Johnston and Triphackr

Clint has travel hacked through over 60 countries. He never pays full price, and always gets the most out of every travel adventure. Triphackr was created to share the tips and travel hacks that he has learned from years of traveling. He shares a few of them here in our conversation.

Where and how did you develop this passion and motivation for traveling?

I have always been passionate about travel. As a kid it was mostly road trips and I had the goal to see every MLB stadium. I have since seen 38 stadiums, counting the teams that have built new ones, and have just a handful left to see. I had driven to Canada and Mexico at a young age but never flown out of the country.

It wasn’t until I was 19 and went backpacking in Europe before my first semester at the University of Kansas that I really got hooked.

Those experiences taught me a lot about how not to travel. I had a great time but wasted a lot of time, energy, and resources without proper preparation. 60 countries later I have learned a lot about how to maximize every travel experience.

Who influenced you the most to start Triphackr?

Besides Indiana Jones, a lot of travel bloggers motivated me. Seeing people like Nomadic Matt quit the 9-5 and travel the world motivated me that anyone could do what he was doing but I simply needed to make it happen.

Making travel a priority made that possible. Today my biggest influence is Anthony Bourdain. I loved his old show on the Travel Channel and continue watching him now on CNN. He can take a destination that has been covered dozens of times and make it interesting again.

Do you remember the first country you went to and did it set the tone for this epic journey?

The first country I went to outside of the US was Canada or possible somewhere in the Caribbean at a very young age (I can’t recall). The first time I set off on my own was to Spain at 19. I went to Almuñécar, Spain.

My friend’s girlfriend was studying there and we met up and traveled around the country. It was an eye opening experience for me.

As soon as I returned home I was immediately trying to figure out how to get back. Spain gave me a taste for travel and I spent the next few years returning to Europe as often as possible.

Europe is a great place for a new backpacker to start traveling. Train travel and accommodation are incredibly easy and affordable. From there my journeys have become a little more adventurous.

Clint Johnston - Triphackr

What country or experience in a certain country has made the biggest impact on you personally?

Haiti had the biggest impact on me personally. I was on vacation in the Dominican with some friends and convinced them to take a road trip to Haiti. This was before the earthquake and nobody has ever said let’s vacation in Haiti (at least not in recent decades).

When I got to the border I met a teacher who worked at a local school and orphanage and she offered to show us around once we made it across. We spent the day playing with some kids, sampling local cuisine, and discovering a new favorite beer called Prestige.

When I returned home I wanted to give something back to that school, no matter how small. Then the earthquake devastated Haiti a couple of months later. On a whim I ran a marathon with no training to raise money.

From there I started a non-profit called Run4Haiti with my friends and we donated the money to the school we visited that day in Haiti. I have returned to Haiti once since then and I really love it.

The people are great, there are surprisingly a large amount of sites to see, and it is wonderful island. They have a long way to go but every donation helps. Haiti will always be a place I return to.

What are the three things you can’t go on a trip without?

I never leave home without my MacBook Pro, DSLR, and my Belkin Mini Surge Protector. The Belkin turns one outlet into 3 outlets with 2 USB ports on the top and is very handy at hotels, hostels, and airports. I recently picked up a GoPro and that may be something I don’t leave home without but I will let you know how that goes in a couple of months.

If someone signs up for your weekly email what type of tips and info should they expect to receive?

The goal of the Triphackr newsletter is to show others how to maximize their travel. I also have been gathering promo codes from some of my favorite companies that are exclusively offered to Triphackr readers.

For example, WeHostels, ExpertFlyer, and TripIt have all offered deals just for Triphackr readers. That list is growing but that will always be a part of the newsletter. I also share tips, stories, and want to encourage others to travel as well. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive with the right resources.

How do you start travel writing? What are some tips you would give someone who wants to submit there writing to Huff Post, Wired, Travel Channel etc……?

I started travel writing simply by buying a domain and getting set-up with WordPress. I simply started putting the travel tips I had learned online for others to read. If you have something you want to share the best way to get started is to simply start writing. You will learn a lot as you go and other bloggers are happy to help.

Eventually I pitched ideas to HuffPost, Travel Channel, and other travel blogs. Once you find yourself featured in one place it is a lot easier to move to the next. A good place to start is by pitching ideas to other bloggers and guest posting.

This expands your audience to new readers and gives you more credibility when you pitch to bigger publications. Eventually you will find people offering you freelance opportunities if that is your goal.

Currently my goal is not to freelance as much as possible. My focus is to expand Triphackr into a bigger travel resource, create more travel hacking destination guides, and encourage others to travel the world on any budget.

Do you go into each country with an agenda or are you just winging it and seeing what happens?

I always have an agenda. I don’t plan out every single day hour by hour but I have a running list of things I want to accomplish while I am there. However, keeping an open mind and being flexible is incredibly important.

So I don’t always stick to my plans. I often find when I arrive my plans change. Talking to locals, asking questions on forums before you leave, and roughly outlining your goals for a trip are a good place to start.

Triphackr -  Italy

Which country would you recommend to someone who is trying to get their feet wet in international traveling?

A great place to start out traveling is in Europe. As I mentioned before Europe is designed for backpackers. Unlike in the US train travel is amazing and if you are under 26 you can get a discount rail pass that will save you a lot of money. There are hostels in every major city and they are great places to meet like-minded travelers.

The Euro may be stronger than the dollar but many people find it can easily be done on a tight budget. Southeast Asia is also a wonderful place for travelers on a budget. There are a lot of amazing countries close together that can easily be reached by bus.

The flight may cost more to fly to Thailand than England but there will be a lot of savings in the accommodation, food, and daily activities. Western Europe runs like clockwork and if you don’t want to worry about anything it might be the best place to start. It is purely a matter of preference. Personally, I absolutely love Southeast Asia.

Do you believe you are living your dream right now?

Well I enjoy travel blogging/writing and I can’t complain after traveling to some amazing places in the world. I am passionate about traveling and that is what I have set out to do. There is no end goal in traveling because it is about the journey and the friends you make along the way.

I love living in Brooklyn and love seeing new places. However, I don’t want to say I am living the dream. Everyone has their own idea of what that is. Mine is probably kicking back in a small fishing village on the North Coast of Brazil drinking a caipirinha. I will get there some day and I hope to enjoy every new place along the way.

What next for you this year? Where are you going and what are you planning on writing?

Next month I am headed to the Middle East. I am traveling to the UAE, Oman, Jordan, and Israel. I have never been to that area of the world and I am very excited. I am not sure what to expect in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Everyone seems to have mixed reviews about the United Arab Emirates. No matter what it will be an interesting experience.

Seeing Petra in Jordan has been a dream of mine since I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I am staying in a cave with a Bedouin under the stars in the desert while I am there. From there I head to Jerusalem. This will definitely be an amazing experience. I know a lot of people who have been and they have only had positive stories to tell. I plan to share all of those stories when I return and along the way.

The remainder of the year is uncharted. Seeing family for the holidays and quick stop in Colombia are my only remaining plans. In 2014 I am planning to visit Mexico City for the first time followed by a trip to Brazil in March. I am hoping to return in June for the World Cup but that is up in the air right now.

That is what is on my radar right now. I will be sharing my trips on Triphackr along with new travel hacking tips. If everyone knew how simple it was to earn miles and points for free flights I think a lot more people would take advantage of their time off from work. Travel hacking is a great way to reduce the costs of travel and I am going to continue writing about that on Triphackr.

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