I learned a few years ago about Chris Guillebeau’s $10 Rule, and realized that I had already been using a similar approach myself.
It only took me about 100 countries—I’m a slow learner—but I finally created a $10 rule for myself that has been rocking my world. The $10 rule is that when I’m traveling, I deliberately avoid worrying about most things that cost $10 or less. As I said, this makes a big difference. I actually eat three meals a day now. If I can’t find free WiFi, I’ll walk into a hotel and pay for the connection. SO MUCH LESS STRESS.
It makes perfect sense and much like a brief nap, buying a small bite to eat can have outsized results. Except I take it further, and my recent trip to Singapore reminded me of that.
The Back Story
My wife and I have traveled a lot even before we got married. But the thing that inevitably happened was that we would be hungry, or need to get from point a to point b, and I was to cheap to eat the cost of a slightly more expensive snack or a cab.
Cut to our first trip around the world, back in 2010, I was able to find a round the world economy ticket on Singapore Airlines for about $1,750 per person. It was the most I’d ever spent on a plane ticket, and I wasn’t as big into travel hacking to figure out a better way. I was, however, able to bake in a 5 day stop in Hong Kong, another 5 day stop in Phuket, a 3 day stop in Singapore and an overnight in London.
The trip went particularly well until we found ourselves dragging out carry-one through the Singapore MRT (subway). There was that awkward silence as we stood on a packed train trying to maneuver our bags to make room. I flashed back to that time we took the Picadilly line from London-Heathrow to our downtown London hotel a few years earlier. There has got to be a better way, right?
We came to find out, there was! For roughly 20 Singapore Dollars we could take a cab to the airport. Yes, it was like 3-4x the cost of the MRT, but well worth it.
And so the $20 rule was born!
It’s not just about grabbing a bite to eat if you’re hungry, or a beverage, it’s also about hassle-free airport transfers, and grabbing a cab if you’ve walked yourself out exploring, or would otherwise spend 20-30 minutes waiting for cheaper transportation.
Ever since, travel has been happier, and less stressful. In fact, my wife hasn’t given me any of those awkward looks, or worse, those periods of awkward silence. I’ve built the rule out further when we travel with parents, we pay a little more for someone to meet us at the airport, like we did on our trip around the world with my mother in law.
In the miles and points world, we often focus on reducing out of pocket costs to extremes, sometimes flying circuitous routes to get one more premium cabin leg (thus extracting maximum value from our points), or staying at a less convenient hotel because it’s available on points and has a lounge (aka free breakfast or evening drinks), but sometimes you can get more true value by going for efficiency, the faster and easier option rather than the cheapest.
Do you have your own version of the $20 rule?