Travel big on a budget? Tempe contest winner says it's so - East Valley Tribune: Travel

Travel big on a budget? Tempe contest winner says it's so

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Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 5:37 am | Updated: 2:33 pm, Sat Oct 13, 2012.

A Tempe small-business owner and recent Arizona State University grad will embark Saturday on a 30 day adventure to China sponsored by CheapOair as a finalist in its Traveler of the Year contest.

Todd Van Duzer, an avid traveler who has visited more 29 countries, will document his travels through weekly videos, blog posts and Facebook updates.

Receiving free airfare and $7,500 in spending money from CheapOair, Van Duzer has the opportunity to win an additional $5,000 worth in travel from the company if he can prove it’s possible to visit amazing destinations while on a budget.

“I haven’t done much research yet,” Van Duzer said in a phone interview from New York Wednesday. “What I like to do is plan as I go on my trip.”

By not planning it out, he has the opportunity to organically meet local people, experiencing the local culture through those he meets, Van Duzer said.

“You can get by on $50 a day,” he said. “I try to tell people that even $2,000 can get you a really cool trip.”

Van Duzer recommends a few tips for traveling on a budget.

“Stay at hostels,” he recommends. “People spend a lot of money on hotels; it can be a couple hundred dollars a night. It allows you to use funds for other things, fun things.”

Search around for airfare, Van Duzer said. Use websites to find cheaper flights, such as CheapOair, Hipmonk or Kayak.

Don’t be afraid to use discounts, Van Duzer said.

“If you’re younger, use your student card,” he said. “I use mine all the time.”

And instead of eating out your entire trip, Van Duzer recommends using the hostel kitchen to make your own food.

“I always buy food at grocery stores,” he said. “That way, you can meet some locals. Then go home and experiment.”

He’s saved $500 from buying groceries instead of restaurant entrees during an extended trip, he said.

But Van Duzer’s adventure isn’t his alone; those who follow his story will be able to impact his journey.

“We’re flying in to Beijing and then we’ll just let our followers tell us,” he said. Van Duzer is travelling to China with a friend. “I’ll probably post a poll on Facebook asking if we should do one thing or the other.” Such as bungee jumping, rock climbing or white water rafting.

“I’m looking to do the most extreme, crazy things possible,” he said. “I’m looking to create a really cool story.”

If Van Duzer wins the additional prize money, he doesn’t plan to use it himself. Instead, he wants to split it between two of his friends, he said.

“I’d give half to my business partner, Laura Petersen,” he said. “She’s very accommodating in allowing me to leave for a month.”

Peterson and Van Duzer — a double major in computer information systems and marketing from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and Barrett, The Honors College — co-own Student-Tutor, a K-12 tutoring service in the East Valley. They employ ten tutors who work one-on-one with students.

The other half would go to a friend who helped him win the contest, but couldn’t make the trip to China, Van Duzer said.

“I’ll give them the funds to travel and let them have the chance to go somewhere else,” he said.

Readers can connect with Van Duzer on his trip in a number of ways:

Blog: www.20secondtraveljournal.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheapoair?ref=ts&fref=ts

Twitter: www.twitter.com/cheapoair

CheapOair Blog: http://blog.cheapoair.com/

Traveler of the Year Website: http://contests.cheapoair.com/traveleroftheyear/

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