Travel Tip – Stay for a Month

I’ve had the same conversation hundreds of times.  It goes like this:

friend: So you’re travelling for a year, huh? Where are you going?

me: The Philippines, Japan, France and Germany

friend: That’s it?!

Then they go on to tell me that if they had a year off, they’d visit 120 countries in 365 days.  They’re completely flabbergasted that I would “waste” my time by only visiting four countries.

It’s not uncommon thinking – more than half the travellers I meet have ambitious itineraries like this.  I completely disagree with it.  When travelling, the QUALITY of your time is worth so much more than the number of countries you visit.

I advise everyone to stay at each stop of their journey for a month.  Here’s why:

You Make Better Friends

buddies for life!

One of the biggest reasons I go travelling is to make friends.  I’m not talking about those 1-night-party friends, I’m talking about the kind of friends you genuinely miss when you leave and are still in contact with years later.

I’m currently staying in the hometown of a friend I met over 10 years ago.  We’ve only seen each other one other time in the 10 years since we met, but our friendship is still strong.  Why?  It’s because we had the time to bond.  We’ve had shared experiences, stories and learned what’s important to each other.

Even if it’s 20 years before we see each other again, we’ll still be friends.  You can’t make that type of friend in a few days, it’s just not enough time.

As I travel, my only souvenirs are my good friends.  We always promise we’ll see each other again, and we always do – I’ve hosted and been hosted by friends like this.  These relationships wouldn’t be possible if I’d only stayed for a week.

You TRULY Experience the Culture

Hanshin Tigers!

What’s going on here? It’s Osaka culture, of course!

Ask a traveller why they travel, and often they’ll say something like, “I want an authentic experience”.  What’s authentic about hitting all the tourist spots in a weekend and leaving on the next flight?

This point goes along very closely with the idea of making good friends – if the friends you make are locals, then you gain a true insight into the culture.

This year alone, I’ve been invited:

  • to a 50th wedding anniversary
  • backstage of a bunraku show
  • to the stands of a perpetually sold-out baseball stadium
  • mountain climbing and cottaging in the French Alps
  • …and even to a funeral

These are just a small taste of the kinds of culture I’ve been lucky enough to experience because of the local friends I’ve made.

People feel more invested in you if you’re staying for a month rather than a week.  They feel responsible for you, and they actually have the opportunity to make you feel welcome.

If you want an authentic experience, stay longer.

You Save a TON of Money

money saved is money earned

Do you think taking a gap year is expensive?  It can be a lot less expensive if you stay in a single place for a month.  Housing, food, transportation and entertainment can all be reduced, and every dollar you save is a dollar more you can use to lengthen your trip.


Monthly rates are at 25-40% cheaper than daily rates.  Don’t take my word for it, spend 5 minutes on and validate this for yourself.  This doesn’t only apply to Airbnb  – most hostels offer the same type of discount.

In Tokyo, I saved over 30% by making a monthly booking (from $34/night -> $26/night).  So far this year, I’ve saved over $2000 by making monthly bookings.  It adds up.


It’s extremely easy to get lazy while travelling and eat out every meal.  It’s even easier to always choose the cheapest options and end up malnourished.  Easy, but not sustainable for long-term travel.

Monthly rentals usually mean having access to a kitchen, which means you can drastically reduce the cost and increase the healthiness of your food simply by buying groceries.

In France, breakfasts usually cost around $5.  I can make the same breakfast at home for less than $1.  That means even if you’re extremely lazy and ONLY have breakfast at home, you still stand to save over $1400.

The cost savings is even higher if you make lunch and dinner at home as well.  I usually save over $100/week by buying groceries. 


In Japan, transportation is expensive.  Every time you step on a subway, it’s going to be $2-$3.

What did I do?  I bought a cheap bicycle for $100, and sold it at the end of the month for $60.  This saved me $120 worth of commutes to my co-working space, so it was well worth it.

In France, the inexpensive access to bike-sharing systems makes it even easier.  A yearly membership to bike share is only around $30.

Also worth noting – since I only take a flight once every 3 months, my flight costs are MUCH lower than many others who are travelling for much less time than I am.


Want to have fun but don’t want to spend a ton of money at a bar or club?  Invite people over to your place.  Even if you’re just pre-gaming before a night out, it’s a lot cheaper than meeting at a bar and paying 2-3x more for drinks and food.

Travel the Way You Like

Another thing I always hear when I talk about travelling: “I wish I could do that!”

I always reply with the same thing, “You can!”

A gap year doesn’t have to be expensive.  It doesn’t have to be a whirlwind of travel.  It doesn’t even have to be a year!  The reason I travel the way I do is because it works for me.  I like making friends and experiencing culture.  I like saving money and having less to worry about.

Don’t let you assumptions about travelling stop you from having your own adventure!  Find a way that works for you.