Ahoy, Pirates! We're back with another Travel Tip Tuesday interview! This week, we spoke to Aelim Jung from Accounting for Travel, an Instagram account dedicated to chronicling luxury travel adventures on a budget. Aelim is a real-life accountant whose skills extend to, you guessed it, travel! By combining her career with her favorite hobby, Aelim is able to find the best luxury travel deals, and we couldn't be more jealous of her life. Her skills have taken her to 6 continents and 31 countries, and on luxury airlines, such as Emirates and Japan Airlines first class, for a fraction of the regular ticket prices!
So, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a 27 year old Korean accountant living in South Boston. While accounting is not the most thrilling job in the world (shocking, right?) it comes with plenty of vacation, which enables me to pursue my passion for travel. My goal is to encounter as many life experiences as I can. Since that is not going to happen just by sitting at my cube, I am all about finding awesome travel adventures on a budget.
Just like at work when I slide my pen to cross off something on my to-do list, there is nothing like the satisfaction I get from crossing things off my travel bucket list. In the past few years I have crossed off a number of things on my list including seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, exploring Victoria Falls by helicopter, riding a camel in a Dubai desert, going on a safari in Africa, and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, all while just being your average accountant! Having these memorable experiences and meeting so many inspiring people along the way motivates me to keep exploring the world every chance I get.
How did you get started as a travel influencer?
My boyfriend became a Boston food influencer (@accountingfortaste), and after seeing how he turned his passion for food into an Instagram account, it inspired me to start with mine!
Before I started, I followed a ton of other travel blogs, all of which posted gorgeous pictures with witty captions. While I loved seeing their adventures, I felt their posts lacked information about how much their experiences cost. There was nothing worse than seeing a really cool picture, wanting to do it, and then finding out it was way out of my price range--accounting pays ok, but not that much! Because of this (and because I can never think of good captions), I decided to focus my blog on "accounting" for what I thought of my travels and how much they cost. I thought people would be interested in following my journey of crossing items off my travel bucket list one step at a time, showing them that it's actually achievable for the average Joe, and a lot of times more affordable than they think!
I've been following your Instagram account for a while, and my first thought was: how? Can you let us in on your secrets to discount luxury discount travel?
I think the first step is to have the right mindset -
remember life is short and it’s important to make time for what you are
passionate about. If you want to travel then it is up to you to make it happen.
Personally, I love traveling because of all the unexpected joy it brings to my
life, so I find ways to do it as often as I can (without putting myself in debt
of course). When I do go for luxury, like first-class flights or five-star
I try to use airline miles
and hotel points from credit card sign-up bonuses
so I can have these
great, high-end experiences for little or no cost. When I am low on points
and don’t see any credit cards offering attractive enough sign up bonuses for
me to join I am always looking at deal sites (like Travel Pirates) to jump on
discounted flights or travel packages. For example, based on a tip I found on a
deal site, I realized booking a flight to Paris with a free stopover in Iceland
was actually cheaper than just booking a direct flight to Iceland. Booking
travel is one place where it really pays to shop around.
What is the craziest deal you've ever found?
First-class Emirates flights from JFK to Dubai to London, which was a ~$30,000 flight, for only 100k Alaska Airline miles. Even though I had a one-week "layover" in Dubai, which I used to check out the city and fly to the Park Hyatt Maldives (also on points), the award ticket was priced the same as a direct U.S. to London flight, making it the one time I was actually excited to not be flying direct. This let me fly first class twice, one of which was on a 13-hour flight, for the same price as a short flight from JFK to London. Usually, I wouldn't opt for two flights when I could take one, but if you are going to feed me caviar and let me shower on the plane, it is hard to say no!
Unfortunately, this deal was way too crazy to last, and Alaska has since changed their award chart so that the same exact flight would now cost 200k miles.
What is something that people think is expensive, but is actually affordable?
People think traveling often is expensive, but it really can be done on a budget if you are flexible. Flight deals are easy to find if you know where to look (like on Travel Pirates!), and there are all sorts of ways to save money on lodging when abroad. If luxury is more your thing, you can use credit card sign-up bonuses to stay at the Ritz for the price of a motel. If you have flexibility in your schedule, last minute deals can save you a ton of money. For example, I paid less than half of what passengers on my 8-day luxury Galapagos cruise paid because I booked it only a few days before departure. If you are willing to put in the work to find the deals, travel can be more affordable than you think!
Okay, lighting round questions! Other than finding a crazy deal, what is the craziest thing you've done while traveling?
Just having come back from the Galapagos last week, I can still remember the moment I went scuba diving with hammerhead, Galapagos, and white-tip sharks like it was yesterday! The last time I scuba dived, at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I saw a couple of large fish, but nothing bigger than me. The diving in the Galapagos exceeded even my wildest expectations--with so many sharks swimming around me, I actually spent half of my dive frozen in place, too scared to move. Even crazier than the sharks was the huge, ten-foot manta ray swimming around me. It had a certain beauty to it as it glided through the water, but its sheer size had me squinting at its tail to see if it was actually a stingray! Now that I am still alive, I can say I am glad I gave scuba diving a try and didn't just stick to snorkeling with the friendly sea lions, turtles, and penguins.
Craziest thing you've eaten on a trip?
Shrimp head at Gaggan in Thailand.
What is your one must-have while traveling?
My Priority Pass! I can't count the number of long layovers that have been saved by a comfortable airport lounge that my Priority Pass got me into. You would be surprised at how even remote airports like Maldives, Ecuador, and Bermuda have lounges that you can use to kick back, sip some wine, and relax.
Window or aisle?
Favorite person to travel with?
My boyfriend, because there is nothing like exploring a new place with the person you most enjoy spending time with. He also knows that when I ask him to take a picture, I am asking him to take the picture, which sometimes requires multiple shots and finding the best angle (he loves it).
Thank you, Aelim, for letting us in on some of your best travel secrets! We love Aelim's account, Accounting for Travel. It's full of luxury travel inspo and insider secrets on scoring the best deals on luxury travel! If you're curious about Aelim's latest adventures, and want to know how to travel like she does, follow her @accountingfortravel on Instagram!
all photos provided by Aelim Jung