Most people have a travel bucket list, perhaps with 10 to 15 countries.
For this couple, it’s all 195 — and they’re more than halfway there.
Hudson and Emily Crider have visited 112 countries, but their journey together began long before that. Both are from the “same small town” of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They met in fifth grade and started dating in high school, the couple said.
Speaking to CNBC via video from Chiang Mai, Thailand, the couple explained that their goal in college was to buy an RV and travel to all 50 states in the United States.
They began to save for that goal after getting married in 2012, but just a few years later, Hudson’s father died of a heart attack. “It was a reminder to us that we’re not guaranteed another day,” said Hudson, 32.
That motivated them to “sell everything and buy this old RV,” said Hudson. The couple left their jobs — Emily as a marketing manager in an agency, Hudson as a financial planner — in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore area, said Emily, 31. Just two years later, they accomplished their goal of traveling to all 50 states.
So they set their sights higher.
Now, as the couple pursue their goal of traveling to every country in the world, they spend less than when they lived in D.C., said Emily. “The thing we found most helpful is eliminating expenses,” said Hudson. “We don’t have a house, car, kids and also make sure to budget.”
The couple have met people on the road who have children, or a home that they’re renting out to travel long term, said Emily. “We really believe there’s not a right or wrong way to travel,” she said.
The couple work remotely while on the road to support their travels, said Hudson. They teach English online, create content on YouTube and Instagram, and sell products like clip-on hand sanitizer holders on Amazon.
Although every traveler has different circumstances, being able to research and read reviews on the internet makes travel “the most open that it’s ever been,” said Hudson.
The couple’s own style of traveling helps them save on food, attractions and local culture in countries they visit, no matter how expensive.
Least to most expensive regions
The Criders have traveled to every continent except Antarctica, they said. The following is their ranking of the world’s major regions based on the cost of travel — from the least to most expensive:
- South America
- Middle East
- North America
Food is one of the categories of travel that “people plan the least for,” yet it’s the cost that is “easiest to add up,” the couple told CNBC. In Bali, Indonesia, they kept those costs low by eating street food like nasi goreng, spending as little as $1 per meal.
Trying street food is a “great way to taste local food and culture,” said Emily. Their favorite Asian cuisines include pad Thai and khao soi from Thailand and Vietnamese banh mi, she said.
The couple save on housing, their second biggest expense, by doing homestays with locals. In Bali, they stayed with the “sweetest family” for just $4 per night, said Emily.
The couple also use Couchsurfing.com, a site where travelers can find locals offering free housing. In Switzerland, they stayed with another couple who made them raclette, a traditional Swiss dish, and took them paragliding, said Emily.
Homestays are a great way to connect with local people, said Emily. “When you’re quickly going to a place and taking pictures of tourist sites, you don’t always get the full picture.”
South America was the third cheapest for activities, at an average of $15.00 per experience, the couple told CNBC. Many activities were free, they added.
The couple research and budget for the main activities they want to do before visiting any country, they said.
They hiked through “amazing” places like Patagonia and Peru without booking a guide, said Hudson. With online resources, “it was so easy to find it ourselves,” he said.
The couple call this “do-it-yourself style travel,” where they find transportation and explore cities without having to book a tour, said Emily.
“Do-it-yourself” travel even extends to safaris, according to the couple.
In East Africa, Hudson and Emily rented a car and drove through the Serengeti on their own.
“It was more of an adventure than we signed up for, but it was a good way to save money,” said Emily.
Transportation typically means metros, buses or tuk-tuks instead of taxis and Uber, the couple said.
But renting a car can also be worth it.
The couple spent the most on transportation in the Middle East, at an average of $14.00 per ride, they told CNBC.
“If anybody’s traveling to Jordan in particular, rent a car — it’s a great way to meet local people,” said Hudson.
The couple spent $85 on a harbor cruise in Sydney that went past the Sydney Opera House. “We prefer to spend a little less money on housing and food and more on experiences,” said Emily.
They spent the most on activities in Australia, with an average of $42.50 per experience. Transportation, however, was the second-least costly, at an average of $3 per ride.
The cruise was also an example of how the couple create content on the road, as they partnered with a company to promote the experience, said Hudson.
By saving a little bit in every category, the couple save a lot of money in the long run, they told CNBC. They did the same in Europe, which was the second-most expensive for housing, food and transportation.
It helps to spend less time staying in the more expensive areas, said Hudson. Compared with Paris, cities like Prague and Budapest are “equally beautiful” but have housing that is “half the cost,” he added.
To get around, the couple used the Eurail unlimited pass to travel to as many places as they wanted within a booked time period, said Hudson. Budget airlines like Wow Air and Ryanair were also “amazing” options, he said.
“We would get a €12.00 flight and spend more on getting the Uber to the airport,” he quipped.
They used Google to find accommodations based on budget, then booked using Airbnb or Booking.com for the “best deals,” said Emily. They typically did a “really cheap hotel or motel” in Europe as it was often less expensive than a hostel, she added.
Although New York consistently ranks as the most expensive city in the U.S., it is a popular destination for travelers who visit North America, said Hudson.
The couple got around by walking or riding on New York’s “amazing” subway system for $2.75 per trip, he said. They used Google Maps to access bus and metro times in almost every major city they visited, they said.
They also said they use blogs and Facebook groups to find suggestions for public transportation too.
Hudson and Emily try to strike a balance between “comfort and cost” when picking accommodations, they told CNBC.
That often leads to a choice between air conditioning and Wi-Fi, said Hudson. (They rarely compromise on the Wi-Fi.)
Reading an accommodation’s newest reviews gives a “current update of someone’s experience staying there,” said Emily.
“We don’t book places without reviews within the past four or five months.“
Bonus points on credit cards also help to save money, said Emily. “Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards are our favorite because those can be transferred to a lot of different hotels and airlines,” she said.
The couple plan for future trips by using Google Flights to notify them if a flight price drops below a certain amount, said Emily. Instead of being fixed on one specific destination, pick five places you want to visit and set notifications for them, she recommended.
As for Hudson and Emily, they have set their sights on more places than that.
They are headed to West Africa next, they said.