8 of the Best First & Business Class Aircraft Seats

8 of the best First & Business Class aircraft seats
Author: Fiona Harper
reports – Double beds and plush suites are replacing First and Business class aircraft seats at the pointy end of the plane!

The latest trend in First and Business Class has aircraft seats that are more like mini-suites.

1. Etihad Airways A380 The Residence

The only three-room suite in the sky, Etihad’s luxurious suites, known as The Residence, operates on select A380’s. Designed as a sophisticated, tranquil retreat for couples, The Residence comes with a living room, ensuite bathroom and bedroom.

Seats: The living room has a Poltrona Frau leather sofa for two, ottoman, two dining tables, 32in TV and chilled drinks cabinet. A separate bedroom contains a double bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and pillow menu. The ensuite bathroom has a private shower, toilet and vanity.

Personal Butlers trained at the Savoy Butler Academy in London attend to every need while a VIP Travel Concierge is on hand to customise inflight cuisine and amenities, as well as attend to on ground travel arrangements.

Cabin features: Occupying the forward upper deck, enjoy mobile and Wi-Fi service here. The mood embraces the individuality and exclusivity of a bespoke boutique hotel incorporating modern Arabian aesthetic with contemporary design. Muted Arabian elegance sums it up best.

Need Cheaper Business Class Flights? Find Them With FareBuzz

Photo courtesy of Etihad
Photo courtesy of Etihad

 

2. Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class

Luxurious private suites ensure total privacy for either singles or couples travelling together.

Seats: Ergonomic seats with a generous 22in width that convert to a full-flat bed with mattress, duvet, pillows and an ottoman. Sliding doors and adjustable dividers between middle suites control privacy. The seats come with 23.5in LCD touch-screen TV’s and noise-cancelling headsets, personal wardrobe and storage.

Loungewear is styled for men and women’s fit, and includes slippers, Lowe amenity kits plus the exclusive stationery to record inflight musings are de rigeur.

Cabin features: Fine dining from a choice of Indonesian or International cuisine prepared by on board Chef – expect caviar and vintage wine before take-off, lobster souffle and pan fried wagyu tenderloin mid-flight.

Compare flights on Garuda

Photo courtesy of Garuda Indonesia
Photo courtesy of Garuda Indonesia

 

3. Qantas A380 First Class Suite

The Qantas A380 First Class Suite picked up a Good Design Award thanks to smart features concealed within understated luxury.

Seats: Individual suites with electronically adjustable positions and multi-zone massage function. Converts into a fully flat bed with foam mattress, sheepskin overlay and cotton sheets.

Amenities are supplied by Payot Paris and luxurious pyjamas should help induce dreamy slumber. There’s an Edelman leather guest seat and a dining table for two. A 17in LCD widescreen monitor, noise-cancelling headset port, PC power, USB and internet ports take care of entertainment. Aurora Spa is located in Sydney and Melbourne First Lounges, offering signature 20-minute treatments focusing on muscle relaxation and skin hydration pre-flight.

Cabin features: Mood lighting, enhanced cabin soundproofing, tableware by Marc Newson. An 8-course tasting menu created by Qantas Chef Neil Perry is served by silver service trained cabin staff. Qantas Rockpool Sommeliers and mixologists have been tasked with keeping travellers hydrated, providing onboard tasting notes and recommendations.
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Photo courtesy of Qantas
Photo courtesy of Qantas

 

4. British Airways A380 First Class

British Airways carries their renowned British efficiency and impeccable manners into the sky in a no-nonsense sort of elegantly refined fashion. Expect understated style.

Seats: British Airways provides a generous 31in width and 6ft 6in length bed (when fully reclined at 180 degrees) with quilted mattress, cotton duvet, the bed uses latest technology with a sprung diaphragm significantly increasing comfort levels. Two concealed tables include a writing desk with leather trim that allows travellers to work while snacking and a private wardrobe and shoe compartment keeps belongings neatly stored. A 15in TV screen, USB and RCA ports allow your own digital content to be viewed on the main screen.

Soft cotton pyjamas and an exclusive collection of Aromatherapy Associates for women and The Refinery for men essentials are presented in a bespoke BA washbag. If flying in or out of New York or London Heathrow, you’ll get to enjoy Elemis Travel Spa treatments.

Cabin features: Signature a la carte menu designed by some of the world’s top chefs or indulge in a mile high English afternoon tea as only the British know how.

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Photo courtesy of British Airways
Photo courtesy of British Airways

 

5. EVA Air B777-300ER Royal Laurel Class

As you’d expect from technologically advanced Taiwan-based EVA Air, the airline utilises the best high-tech systems to enhance passenger inflight experience.

Seats: Retractable armrests and cocktail table adjust to create a 2m long lie-flat bed at the touch of a button. Passengers can make phone calls and send SMS messages via an on board communication system. Touchscreen entertainment screens, power sockets, USB and iPod ports complete the high-tech setup. Space and privacy are maximised, utilising a reverse herringbone configuration with fixed panels enabling passengers to create their own private space.

Recent collaboration with RIMOWA includes amenities such as balm from Thailand’s top spa and skincare brand Harnn. Comfortable pyjamas, Fiji water and noise cancelling headsets up the comfort levels

Cabin features: Mood lighting, including glittering stars on the ceiling during overnight flights, enhance a restful sleep. Fine dining branded ‘Story Island – Round the World’ rivals the best five-star restaurants with cuisine served on the same tableware, Noritake, used by the Japanese Royal Family.

Compare flights on EVA Air

Photo courtesy of EVA Air
Photo courtesy of EVA Air

 

6. Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

Singapore Airlines is renowned for impeccable, elegant service and facilities and their Suites are no exception. The epitome of grace and hospitality, the Singapore Girl has become one of the best known icons of the airline industry.

Seats: Sliding doors and window blinds allow passengers to control privacy of Suites furnished in soothing leather and wood finishes. Armchairs hand stitched by master Italian craftsman Poltrona Frau and a standalone bed (not converted from a seat) feature. A turndown service with fine linen and plush full-sized pillows virtually guarantee restful slumber. If you’d prefer to remain awake the 23in LCD screen and non-stop on-demand entertainment system should help while away the hours.

Cabin Features: Book the Cook has been Singapore Airlines’ successful signature dining experience for eons. Travellers peruse the menu before boarding to ensure a specialty meal is prepared to individual tastes. For flights out of Singapore, expect a choice of over 60 dishes!

Compare flights on SQ

Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines
Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines

 

7. LAN Airlines B787 Premium Business Class

With the commencement of long haul trans-Pacific flights from South America’s leading airline network, LAN became the first airline to introduce the latest Boeing 787 on the Sydney-Santiago route.

Seats: 100 percent fully flat seats with six way adjustment for optimum rest, lumbar massage and privacy barriers between seats. Fine dining created by a panel of highly-credentialed South American chefs and a wine list handpicked by South America’s only Master Sommelier.

Cabin features: Larger auto-dimming windows, dynamic lighting and vast storage space at foot level circumvent the need to keep opening overhead lockers mid-flight. Improved aerodynamics reduce the impact felt by turbulence and new air humidification techniques reduce fatigue and dryness associated with long-haul flights.

Compare flights on LAN Airlines

Photo courtesy of LAN Airlines
Photo courtesy of LAN Airlines

 

8. Emirates A380 Business Class

Operating one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world, Emirates knows a thing or two about passenger comfort.

Seats: Send an email or update your online profile, choose a beverage from your personal mini bar, write up a business report or kick back and enjoy award winning entertainment from the comfort of Business Class seating. If all that is too much, recline the seat into a fully flat bed on one of the airlines industry’s most advanced aircraft.

A gourmet menu inspired by Emirates global routes come with Royal Doulton tableware and Robert Welch cutlery while a Sommelier-selected wine list is matched to each course. 2,000 entertainment channels show the very latest new releases along with breaking news to keep travellers updated in real time.

First and Business class passengers have access to complimentary airport chauffer-drive service as well as being fast-tracked through immigration.

Cabin features: The A380 Onboard Lounge is the place to unwind in the sky and is for the exclusive use of First and Business passengers. Canapes and cocktails, coffee and cake are all on offer in a convivial lounge area where guests can stretch their legs or socialise.

Compare flights on Emirates

Photo courtesy of Emirates
Photo courtesy of Emirates

The Worlds 5 Most Dangerous Airlines

After reading this don’t say you weren’t warned!

The past couple of years have not been good for aviation, at least not from a PR perspective. From the botched landing of Asiana flight 214 in late 2013, to the fatal crashes of not one, but two Malaysia Airlines 777s in 2014, to the tragic loss at sea of an Indonesia AirAsia plane just a few months ago, it seems like there’s a major plane crash every time you turn on the news.

The good news is that in spite of how dangerous flying might seem to be, global aviation safety continues to improve, overall, year-over-year. The bad news? None of the world’s most dangerous airlines make headlines, which means you may inadvertently board one of their planes without knowing.

1. Lion Air

Although Indonesia AirAsia has come under a great deal of scrutiny since flight QZ8501 crashed in late 2014, it is not Indonesia’s most dangerous, even if its overall safety rating prevents it from ever flying to the United States or European Union, a ban shared by fellow Indonesian carriers Garuda Indonesia, KALstar Aviation and Sriwijaya Air.

No, that dubious honor goes to Lion Air, who has suffered many hull losses during its time in operation, although only one of them ever made major headlines.

2. Nepal Airlines

It’s difficult not to have empathy for pilots who land jets in Nepal, what with the Himalayas being there and all – some planes are bound to be less lucky than others. This is unfortunately true not only anecdotally but in reality, with Nepal Airlines in particular being dangerous.

Having experienced nearly a dozen fatal accidents in the past three decades, in spite of a relatively modest flight schedule, Nepal Airlines gets just one star (out of a potential seven) from AirlineRatings.com, a site which ranks airline safety using a number of metrics.

3. Kam Air

The only thing less likely than having heard about Kam Air is having the opportunity (or need, as it were) to fly it – based in Afghanistan, Kam Air is not an airline the average backpacker would fly these days, unless that backpack is owned by the U.S. military. Kam Air has only been in operation for a decade, but has already experienced fatal accidents resulting in more than 100 passenger deaths.

4. Tara Air
Tara Air maintains just as low a profile, internationally speaking, as Kam Air, although it operates in Nepal instead of Afghanistan. Although only one Tara Air flight has resulted in passenger fatalities, the airline has only existed for six years, which raises serious questions about its overall safety.

Tara Air is relatively easy for most travelers to avoid, since it operates exclusively to rural destinations in Nepal, but if you want to explore the foothills of the Himalaya, and don’t have the time to endure the long overland journey from Kathmandu, you may find yourself with little choice but to fly Tara Air.

5. SCAT Airlines

Kazakhstan-based SCAT Airlines’ name doesn’t do it any favors, even if you except the fact that its name is an acronym for something rather innocuous: “Special Cargo Air Transport.” Unfortunately, SCAT’s air record is just as smelly as what you think of when you first hear its name, but not because of how many fatal crashes it’s suffered (just one) since it began operations in 1997.

Rather, the European Commission’s decision to blacklist SCAT stems from an overall lack of confidence in its regulatory processes, which has spilled over onto other Kazakh airlines.

Traveling And Want to Flirt With a Girl at a Bar? Here’s How

If you’re on vacation and in a bar, you want to flirt with a woman you’re interested in doing sex stuff with, oh boy there are a million ways to screw up that encounter. You could be creepy. You could forget to buy her friends a drink. You could accidentally attribute a poem about love to Rilke when it was clearly John Donne! Ok ok probably not going to happen but to find out how not to totally blow it when talking to members of the fairer sex, we consulted a group of women who’ve collectively been romantically flailed at by thousands of hopeless men. Here’s their advice, in their own words.

Don’t stare
“Do not stare from across the room. Little glances and quick smiles work much better. Blatant staring is just creepy and uncomfortable.”

But eye contact is very important
“Aim for the thrill of a sub-conversation held only with the eyes.”

Buy her a drink, the right way
“Don’t send over a light beer, especially if I’m not drinking a light beer. Ask the bartender what the girl is drinking and send that. When in doubt, a glass of something sparkling never hurt anyone.”

Buy her friends one, too
“Be nice to my friends. If they are right next to me, you offer them a drink too. It’s so tacky when you don’t.”

Or try buying songs, not drinks
“When a guy asks me if I want a drink, I sometimes ask for a song instead. Time at a jukebox can be very telling and definitely a turn-on.”

Don’t expect anything in exchange for that drink
“Wait for a response. Guys nowadays think that buying the drink gives you permission to talk to and even harass that person. You should always think of buying the drink as a selfless gesture. It deserves no more than a ‘thank you’ if accepted.”

Ask the bartender to introduce you
“You don’t really know if the lady is having a bad day and just wants to be alone, or is having a great day and is hunting. The bartender will know 99% of the time. Plus, a guy steps into unknown territory, while the bartender has already been talking to this person.”

Don’t worry about your friends
“Guys are dicks in bars mostly because they roll with a bunch of other dudes and it shifts into a pack mentality. They’re not trying to impress the girl, but their friends.”

Be careful with compliments
“Honestly, superficial compliments are a pretty great way to get me to shut down. It instantly makes me uncomfortable. I don’t believe anything they say and try to get away immediately.”

Just be normal
“Say hello, introduce yourself, and have a normal conversation. It’s amazing how far being normal can take you.”

Remember that it’s not that big a deal
“I feel like having the right mindset going in is key. That person you’re going to approach is just another human. And if they don’t want to talk to you, it’s okay, you will find someone who does. They’re not a bad person or a bitch or an asshole just because they’re not interested in having a conversation with you.”

Don’t neg her
(Editor’s Note: “Neg” is a pick-up artist slang term for an insult in the clothing of a compliment, as made popular by that book The Game by Neil Strauss, which no one admits they’ve read. Including this editor.)
“Tell her that her titties make her ass look smaller! Girls love a complim-insult! Just kidding.”

Don’t rush the hook-up
“… unless its obviously on. The more pressure, the more I get turned off. It’s the basic common sense rule of knowing your audience. Some women may love that Mystery pick-up line/negging shit (Editor’s Note: Mystery is one of the main pick-up artists in that book The Game that we never read.) — the guy just needs to figure it out before the tactics are deployed. If she’s not that kind of woman, then approach her as if she was a friend, find some common ground, hopefully get in a laugh, and make a real connection beyond the obvious ‘how fast can I get her in bed?’ challenge.”

Come up with a distracting activity
“Challenge her to a game of pool. Or ask her to be your pool partner. Erotic Photo Match may not be the best, but who knows. I’m partial to distracting activities around strangers though [so it doesn’t get awkward or whatever].”

Be nice to the bartender
“Major turn-off when a guy approaches, offers to buy a drink smoothly, and proceeds to snap or shout for the attention of the bartender. Patience and kindness is seductive.”

Don’t try too hard to be funny
“Things that are not funny include: comments about the bar/the service, politics/religion (this isn’t your stand-up show), my body, or my friends. Sadly there’s no blanket for what does land, but still-confident-and-a-little-self-deprecating is usually a solid approach that can be really charming when used well.”

No means no
“Take no for an answer.” There’s plenty more fish in the ocean, move on and focus on the next lucky gal.

Tourist Scams

Scam artists come in all shapes and sizes. But if you’re cautious and not overly trusting, you should have no problem. Here are some clever ways European crooks bolster their cash flow.
Such a Deal!

If a bargain seems too good to be true…it’s too good to be true.

The “Found” Ring: An innocent-looking person picks up a ring on the ground in front of you and asks if you dropped it. When you say no, the person examines the ring more closely, then shows you a mark “proving” that it’s pure gold. He offers to sell it to you for a good price — which is several times more than he paid for it before dropping it on the sidewalk.

The “Friendship” Bracelet: A vendor approaches you and aggressively asks if you’ll help him with a “demonstration.” He proceeds to make a friendship bracelet right on your arm. When finished, he asks you to pay a premium for the bracelet he created just for you. And, since you can’t easily take it off on the spot, you feel obliged to pay up. (These sorts of distractions by “salesmen” can also function as a smokescreen for theft — an accomplice is picking your pocket as you try to wriggle away from the pushy vendor.)

Salesman in Distress: A well-spoken, well-dressed gentleman approaches you and explains that he’s a leather jacket salesman, and he needs directions to drive to a nearby landmark. He chats you up (“Oh, really? My wife is from Chicago!”) and soon you’ve made a new friend. That’s when he reaches in his car and pulls out a “designer leather jacket” which he’d like to give to you as a thank you for your helpfulness. Oh, and by the way, his credit card isn’t working, and could you please give him some cash to buy gas? He takes off with the cash, and you later realize that you’ve paid way too much for your new vinyl jacket.

Money Matters

Any time money changes hands, be alert, even when using ATMs. (See my tips on keeping your cards safe.) When dealing with the public, keep your cards in your sight, or much easier and safer, pay cash. But even paying with cash can have its challenges.

Slow Count: Cashiers who deal with lots of tourists thrive on the slow count. Even in banks, they’ll count your change back with odd pauses in hopes the rushed tourist will gather up the money early and say “Grazie.”

Switcheroo — You Lose: Be careful when you pay with too large a bill for a small payment. Clearly state the value of the bill as you hand it over. Some cabbies or waiters will pretend to drop a large bill and pick up a hidden small one in order to shortchange a tourist. Get familiar with the currency and check the change you’re given: The valuable €2 coin resembles several coins that are either worthless or worth much less: the 500-lira coin (from Italy’s former currency), Turkey’s 1-lira coin, and Thailand’s 10-baht coin.

Talkative Cashiers: The shop’s cashier seems to be speaking on her phone when you hand her your credit card. But listen closely and you may hear the sound of the phone’s camera shutter, as she takes a picture of your card. It can make you want to pay cash for most purchases, like I do.
Meeting the Locals

The Attractive Flirt: A single male traveler is approached by a gorgeous woman on the street. After chatting for a while, she seductively invites him for a drink at a nearby nightclub. But when the bill arrives, it’s several hundred dollars more than he expected. Only then does he notice the burly bouncers guarding the exits. There are several variations on this scam. Sometimes, the scam artist is disguised as a lost tourist; in other cases, it’s simply a gregarious local person who (seemingly) just wants to show you his city. Either way, be suspicious when invited for a drink by someone you just met; if you want to go out together, suggest a bar (or café) of your choosing instead.

Oops! You’re jostled in a crowd as someone spills ketchup or fake pigeon poop on your shirt. The thief offers profuse apologies while dabbing it up — and pawing your pockets. There are variations: Someone drops something, you kindly pick it up, and you lose your wallet. Or, even worse, someone throws a baby into your arms as your pockets are picked. Assume beggars are pickpockets. Treat any commotion (a scuffle breaking out, a beggar in your face) as fake — designed to distract unknowing victims. If an elderly woman falls down an escalator, stand back and guard your valuables, then…carefully…move in to help.

The “Helpful” Local: Thieves posing as concerned locals will warn you to store your wallet safely — and then steal it after they see where you stash it. If someone wants to help you use an ATM, politely refuse (they’re just after your PIN code). Some thieves put out tacks and ambush drivers with their “assistance” in changing the tire. Others hang out at subway ticket machines eager to “help” you, the bewildered tourist, buy tickets with a pile of your quickly disappearing foreign cash. If using a station locker, beware of the “Hood Samaritan” who may have his own key to a locker he’d like you to use. And skip the helping hand from official-looking railroad attendants at the Rome train station. They’ll help you find your seat…then demand a “tip.”

Young Thief Gangs: These are common all over urban southern Europe, especially in the touristy areas of Milan, Florence, and Rome. Groups of boys or girls with big eyes, troubled expressions, and colorful raggedy clothes politely mob the unsuspecting tourist, beggar-style. As their pleading eyes grab yours and they hold up their pathetic message scrawled on cardboard, you’re fooled into thinking that they’re beggars. All the while, your purse or backpack is being expertly rifled. If you’re wearing a money belt and you understand what’s going on here, there’s nothing to fear. In fact, having a street thief’s hand slip slowly into your pocket becomes just one more interesting cultural experience.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

The sneakiest pickpockets look like well-dressed businesspeople, generally with something official-looking in their hand. Some pose as tourists, with day packs, cameras, and even guidebooks. Don’t be fooled by looks, impressive uniforms, femme fatales, or hard-luck stories.

Fake Charity Petition: You’re at a popular sight when someone thrusts a petition at you. It’s likely a woman or a teen who, often pretending to be deaf, will try to get you to sign an official-looking petition, supposedly in support of a charity (the petition is often in English, which should be a clue). The petitioner then demands a cash donation. At best, anyone who falls for this scam is out some euros; at worst, they’re pickpocketed while distracted by the petitioner.

Phony Police: Two thieves in uniform — posing as “Tourist Police” — stop you on the street, flash their bogus badges, and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or “drug money.” You won’t even notice some bills are missing until after they leave. Never give your wallet to anyone.

Room “Inspectors”: There’s a knock at your door and two men claim to be the hotel’s room inspectors. One waits outside while the other comes in to take a look around. While you’re distracted, the first thief slips in and takes valuables left on a dresser. Don’t let people into your room if you weren’t expecting them. Call down to the hotel desk if “inspectors” suddenly turn up.

The Broken Camera: Everyone is taking pictures of a famous sight, and someone comes up with a camera or cell phone and asks that you take his picture. But the camera or cell phone doesn’t seem to work. When you hand it back, the “tourist” fumbles and drops it on the ground, where it breaks into pieces. He will either ask you to pay for repairs (don’t do it) or lift your wallet while you are bending over to pick up the broken object.

The Stripper: You see a good-looking woman arguing with a street vendor. The vendor accuses her of shoplifting, which she vehemently denies. To prove her innocence, she starts taking off her clothes — very slowly. Once she’s down to her underwear, the vendor apologizes and she leaves. Suddenly all the men in the crowd find out that their wallets have “left,” too, thanks to a team of pickpockets working during the show.

Travel The World For Free

We know, we know. You can’t actually travel the world without paying for something along the way. But we’ve got a few ideas to help cut down on costs and ensure you’ll have a more authentic adventure.

Barter your time and hard work for a place to stay

Christine Maxfield, founder and editor of CompassMag.com and producer of the When In Roam: Conversations with Travel Writers podcast on iTunes, recommends work-exchange programs like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), HelpX.net, and WorkAway.info as a way to immerse yourself in new culture and make local friends quickly. “Work exchange is a little different than volunteering because you barter your time for food and lodging with a host rather than spending money for the opportunity, said Maxfield. “I’ve learned the most interesting jobs that way, from black-pearl diving to working at a sea-turtle hatchery, and it only cost me my hard work! It was a very fulfilling way to travel, and I also made lifelong friends with my hosts so I was never lonely.” Another option is to pitch in at a local hostel you plan to stay in, as oftentimes owners can use the extra help and may be willing to offer you a free bed for the night as payment for a day’s work.

How to get started: In the case of WWOOF, the hardest part is deciding where you want to go. Some countries have their own WWOOF organizations, websites, and programs, so visit the link listed above, choose a country, and browse through the farm lists. Sign up to be a volunteer—as long as you’re over the age of 18—and follow the instructions. In some cases, you may have to pay a fee of up to $72 to view the final listings for a country, but it’s well worth the money you’ll be saving on accommodations in the long run. Pack sturdy work boots, prepare to pay for your travel expenses to and from the farm, and set aside some extra cash for day trips while you’re off. The program is available in more than 60 countries worldwide including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Ireland, Italy, the United States, and Canada, so take your pick!

House-sit your way around the world

You’ve heard about pet–sitting, but what about house–sitting to save money while traveling? Dalene and Peter Heck are one Canadian couple who did just that: four years ago, they sold everything for the sake of travel, started a website, Hecktic Travels, and wrote a book about how they saved over $30,000 in accommodations costs by house–sitting their way around the world. The basic idea is reciprocity: keep an eye on someone’s home while they’re away, and you get to stay in it for free. It’s a win–win since the owners get the peace of mind in knowing their houses (and sometimes pets) are safe, and you get to take the price of accommodations out of your vacation budget. (You’ll also save money on food, since your lodgings now include a kitchen.) Jobs can last anywhere from two weeks to six months and give new meaning to the term culture immersion. “The best part about the whole experience has been the ability to really dig in to a destination and get to understand the culture. We get to know people and visit places that regular tourists never would,” said Dalene Heck.

How to get started: A number of websites, such as TrustedHousesitters.com, House Sitters America, The Caretaker Gazette, and Mind My House among others, provide listings for a fee (ranging from $20 to $60 depending on the membership), but consider this an investment. The couple recommends creating an account on multiple websites to increase your chances of being chosen for a coveted house–sit job. Planning ahead is the key, since it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to fully flesh out the details of a contract. House–sitting hopefuls from the U.S. should remember to check Visa requirements for countries they plan to apply for, Dalene warns. “In 28 countries of Europe, Americans are only allowed 90 days total at a time, so the dream of bouncing around from house–sit to house–sit indefinitely isn’t really an option there.”

Crash on someone’s couch

Websites like GlobalFreeloaders.com and Couchsurfing.org aim to bring together like-minded travel-worshippers and promote a more authentic, cultural exchange between them. The other perk of course is that free accommodations are more than likely part of the equation, with hosts offering an extra bed, couch, futon, or other temporary place to crash while you’re visiting a new city. Participants get in contact with each other and can interact as much or as little as they want: if you’d rather just meet a host for coffee or lunch, that’s fine. If you decide to host someone in your home (or are hosted at someone else’s home) and want to cook for each other, even better. The whole point is to leave your comfort zone behind and get to know someone new from a different environment than your own, so take this free opportunity to make a new friend and embrace a new culture.

How to get started: Both sites require you to create a free profile—GlobalFreeloaders only lets you do so if you’re able to host someone in your own home within six months of signing up, as there are two sides to this travel coin, visiting and hosting. Couchsurfing, however, is more flexible and gives you the option to create an account so you can participate, and lets you list “Not Right Now (but I can still hang out)” if you’re not ready to host someone in your own home but are still open to the idea of meeting new travelers, whether for a quick drink or to show them around town.

Embrace the art of travel hacking

The idea behind travel hacking is simple: work the system to score enough free rewards points on hotel and airline loyalty programs to earn free accommodations and transportation. Sign up for any credit card that offers ridiculous amounts of miles just for joining, enter contests that give away free miles or points, and basically jump at anything that offers free travel benefits. Keep up with special promotions and always be on the lookout for more point-earning opportunities, whatever they may be. With a little time (okay, more than a little time) and creativity, Matt Kepnes of NomadicMatt.com explains how it’s possible to hack anything from airline costs and accommodations, to transportation, restaurants, and even attractions—he even has a new e-book about it, on sale now for $37 through his website with a money-back guarantee if you don’t earn enough miles for at least one free flight within six months!

How to get started: Register to receive emails from The Points Guy, a website founded by road warrior Brian Kelly that is dedicated to tracking and sharing the best ways to make the most of your travel rewards points. Either purchase the book mentioned above or sign up with the Travel Hacking Cartel to learn more about this gutsy new travel frontier. (Try a $1 14-day trial subscription to the Travel Hacking Cartel, or opt for more in depth packages starting at $15 a month).

Teach English in a foreign country

This has always been a really popular way to see the world and make a little money in the process—several of my college friends actually went on to teach English in Japan, China, South Korea, and in one case, Romania. While you will receive a steady paycheck and a place to stay, it’s important to remember that you will basically be expected to work the equivalent of a full-time job, teaching students of varying ages the art of the English language at least five days a week with a full level of excitement and enthusiasm. Prepare to be exhausted, yet fulfilled, if teaching is your passion, and try to do a little exploring on weekends and holidays when you and your class have some free time. Or better yet, try to save up a little money for day trips or other regional travel from your new location if you can.

How to get started: First, you’ll need to work on getting TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification—basically you pay for and take a course online or in person (options vary), and learn everything you’ll need to get started in your new classroom. Once you’re certified, decide which country you want to live and work in and how long you’re willing to sign a contract for. CIEE Teach Abroad offers options for teaching assignments in Chile, China, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic. Apply through programs like JourneyEast.org for teaching opportunities in China, The Jet Programme or AEON for options in Japan, or search for teaching job openings around the world via ESLcafe.com.

Crazy Travel Selfies

I started taking selfies long before selfies were even a thing. But the craziest travel selfie I’ve ever taken was probably when I swam with sharks in Bora Bora and that wasn’t even that dangerous – especially when you compare it to these daredevils below. Here are some of the craziest travel selfies I’ve seen on Instagram:

 

 

 

 

 

Jin Mao Tower. #Shanghai #jinmao #jinmaotower A photo posted by Ivan Kuznetsov (@beerkus) on

 

 

#UAE#Dubai❤️ #fly#sky#skydive#dubai Thx @faz3 😌 A photo posted by Nasser Al Neyadi (@fazzasky3) on

 

“Balloons fly by” back in Turkey last week😳 A photo posted by Luigi Cani (@luigicani) on

 

 

Voo Livre no Rio

 

A photo posted by Voo Livre no Rio (@voolivrenorio) on

No topo da cidade maravilhosa! 👊💀🙏 A photo posted by Gustavo Palombini (@gpalombini) on

 

Quem tem amigos, tem tudo!! Heli jump Day, um salto mais animal que o outro… A photo posted by Fernando Navarro (@navarrotv) on

 

 

You are very attractive in blue. Mavinin icinde cok cekicisiniz.

 

A photo posted by Murat Binici (@yppilot35) on

Which one of these do you think is the craziest? Do you have any travel selfies that you want to submit for a future post? Include the URL in the comments section below!

Johnny Jet