How to Travel the World Using Nothing But Bitcoin

Carrying cash may become a thing of the past for tech-savvy travelers.

Ever wanted to travel the world without spending any money? Tech fan and computer programmer Felix Weis did, and in 2015 he made his dream a reality. After hearing about the virtues of an online currency, Bitcoin, with no physical form, Weis decided to learn everything he could about it.

Known technically as a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin was invented in 2009 by an unknown programmer(s) operating under the moniker of Satoshi Nakamoto. Aside from the intriguing mystery of who the creator was, Bitcoin hit the headlines because it was essentially a new monetary system. Governed by a series of strict mathematical codes and procedures, Bitcoin is made, controlled, sent and received online.

The concept of a virtual currency not under the control of any government and highly secure thanks to its internal structure was something that appealed to Weis's tech passions. After a few years dabbling with the currency in a professional and personal capacity, Weis wanted to see if it really was a universal way to pay for goods and services. With that, he embarked on a round-the-world trip with one caveat: He could only spend Bitcoin (although in some cases he could exchange Bitcoins for cash).

The trip, for all intents and purposes, was a success and has since served as a source of inspiration for other tech-savvy travelers. With this in mind, we've picked out some of the Bitcoin basics you'll need to cover if you're thinking of traveling the world without any cash in your pocket.

"bitcoin accepted here" sign on a glass window
(©Francis Storr/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Essential Bitcoin Travel Basics

Tickets: Every journey starts with a single step and if you're going to get off on the right foot then you need to start spending Bitcoins from the outset. Fortunately, a number of travel companies and airlines now accept Bitcoin payments. British Airways, Virgin and LOT are all Bitcoin-friendly airlines, while the likes of Expedia, WebJet and offer their travel agency services to those with a penchant for virtual currencies.

One of the biggest benefits of using Bitcoin to book your flights is that you can do it from anywhere in the world and the price will be the same. This is great if you're looking to avoid any potentially costly currency conversion fluctuations and charges.

Entertainment: When you're on the road, in the air or floating on the sea, time can pass very slowly. To this end, finding a way to keep yourself amused is crucial. Fortunately, thanks to the rise in popularity of Bitcoin, you can now play casino-style games via your mobile device using nothing but the cryptocurrency. VegasCasino has become early leaders in this emerging market space and now offers more than 100 games, including Bitcoin Roulette.

On top of its real money options, such as Zoom and Common Draw roulette, VegasCasino also offers practice tables. So, if you need to entertain yourself in between destinations, make sure you've got your phone, some Bitcoins and Lady Luck on your side.

Food: Back in 2015 there was a lot of social media buzz surrounding the use of Bitcoin at McDonald's and Walmart. Although the chains are yet to fully embrace the cryptocurrency for meal payments, they did link their reward programs with the wallet service Snapcard.

By pairing the Ifeelgoods reward system with Snapcard, Walmart and McDonald's made it possible for loyal customers to earn free Bitcoins based on their spending. So, if you manage to nab some local currency, you can technically increase your Bitcoin balance by shopping at these outlets.  

Emergency Back-up: Much like Weis did, it's important to have an emergency back-up plan when you're in a country where technology isn't that advanced. Fortunately, even if there aren't any local shops, bars or restaurants that accept Bitcoin payments, there will probably be at least one local who will trade some for local currency.

Naturally, in some cases, you'll have to be a bit creative. For example, Weis managed to find a Bitcoin-based, Groupon-style site in Romania where he could buy vouchers for goods and services in the area.

Traveling the world using nothing but Bitcoin isn't easy. However, Weis has proved it's possible if you use your initiative. In fact, as more people start to broaden their horizons without spending traditional money, the market will naturally react. Which means we should start to see more Bitcoin provisions for travelers in the coming years.

Article by Edward Roche for TravelPulse. Reprinted with permission.