Travel for Bitcoin has become much easier since 2013, when Bitcoin skyrocketed above $1,000 for the first time. Perhaps, you’ve seen a bitcoin sign hanging in the window of a streetside business. There are, to be certain, an increasing number of merchants accepting bitcoin, as well as individuals curious about using the first financial technology based on the blockchain. This is a Bitcoiner’s guide to travel.
When it comes to flying, there are several options to use Bitcoin. One can fly American Airlines for bitcoins via Gyft. In Europe, Asia and Africa, Abitsky accepts the digital currency for flights, as well as hotels and car rentals. Moreover, Airbaltic accepts bitcoins for destinations worldwide. The reputable service, Cheapair, represents one of the most recognized bitcoin-accepting merchants in the world. Btctrip caters specifically to the Bitcoin community, and Destinia has won favor for some bitcoiners. Gift off turns bitcoin into UK National Rail vouchers. Gasoline gift cards via Coinfueled.com can save you money on a road trip.
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Of course, once you arrive at your destination, it might be a good time to rest. Towards this end, Expedia accepts Bitcoin for one’s travel needs. As well, Hotelgo24.com. Through Gyft, one might search gift card offers on Bedandbreakfast.com or peruse Orbitz’s Globalhotelcard.com. Further, Egifter has offered accommodations at the San Luis Resort.
For dining, Bitcoin Restaurants maintains a comprehensive list of places where one could pay for dining with bitcoin. Restaurant options might also be found at Coinmap.org, Gyft, EGifter and AirBitz. If you’re looking to shop for groceries in bitcoin, and save a little money instead of dining out, you might find options at Coinmap or Usebitcoins. Whole Foods gift cards can also be found at Gyft.
Likely during the course of your travels, it might prove convenient to exchange bitcoins into the local currency. A robust network of 1,000 bitcoin transaction machines worldwide makes this possible, and indeed is perhaps an unsung hero of the Bitcoin ecosystem. On Coinatmradar one can find the closest so-called ‘Bitcoin ATM’ near them.
There are different types of ATMs, so ensure a machine you intend to visit does what you need. Some bitcoin ATMs only turn bitcoins into a local currency, while others vice versa. Two-way Bitcoin ATMs offer the most robust services of any machines, allowing customers to exchange bitcoins for local currency and vice versa.
Taking the time to find coupons relevant to your life saves money over time. And Bitcoin has even this covered. Groupon via Gyft is a great option, as Grapo.bg, which helped Felix Weis, a Bitcoin traveler, navigate Bulgaria. We’ll hear from Mr. Weis shortly.
Related: Rap Legend, Coinbase Investor Nas’ Favorite Bitcoin Charity is Watsi.org
Using a Bitcoin debit card won’t win you much (if any) cred among the cypherpunks in the Bitcoin scene, but they can be extremely convenient.
Bitcoin prepaid or debit card from Xapo, Coinbase, BitPay, Bitplastic, or others can make traveling on bitcoin much easier, as the debit cards allow for fast transactions and access to SWIFT, the global payment system used by MasterCard and Visa, via Bitcoin.
Directories like Airbitz, Coinmap, Cointerest, and Bitcoin Restaurants, Bitcoin.travel can help you find bitcoin merchants. Researching and joining localized bitcoin-oriented social media group can help you integrate into a local Bitcoin community for the time you will be a guest there.
Traveling on Bitcoin might not be as hard as it seems. More than 5,000 convenience stores in Taiwan accept Bitcoin.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if this could be done,” Felix Weis, who completed a trip around the world using mainly bitcoins in 2016, told GoldSilverBitcoin.com. Before he left for his trip, the Luxembourger lived in Berlin. He set out rules for his journey as such:
- No banks. And that meant no Western Union, no money exchanges, no converting USD to euros, no euros to yen.
- Bitcoin first. He had to use Bitcoin whenever possible.
- Cash only for bitcoin. Recognizing that there would be times when he would need local currency. He allowed himself to do peer-to-peer exchanges of bitcoin for cash, which, he says, led to some “fun adventures.”
The 28-year old used websites like Coinmap, a directory of Bitcoin-accepting businesses, to know where he could spend coins. He bought on Interrail pass with All4btc.com, a site which will buy something for you and you send them the bitcoins. He told GoldSilverBitcoin.com it would take between one afternoon and an entire day to research how to get around and find food in the next country. He often harbored uncertainties about how he would pay for things before departing for the next location.
He paid for hotels and flights via Bitcoin on the internet. People might use their credit cards at dinner, and he would repay them in bitcoins.
The hardest country for Mr. Weis was Bulgaria. He could not find a restaurant that would accept his Bitcoin. A man with whom he scheduled an appointment to make a Bitcoin transaction did not show. He ate nothing but his hotel’s continental breakfast – cereal, orange juice, and apples – for two days.
“Usually I was able to talk to people into accepting some Bitcoin, but in Bulgaria, few people spoke English, so the language barrier created a problem,” he said. He had a bit of cash at that point. He almost gave up.
“I spoke with a Bulgarian friend on the Internet and he told me about Grapo.bg, a Groupon-style website that accepts Bitcoins for vouchers.”
In Argentina, there was no Uber after the country banned the service. In other countries, Mr. Weis used the Bitcoin service Bitcoin Builder to pay for Uber in bitcoins. He reached out to the Argentina Facebook group, where he ultimately found a ride to the airport.
He sought out Bitcoin ATM’s, which were particularly helpful in places like Macau, Japan, and Mexico, but said there needs to be more in airports. He also noted how popular Bitcoin is popular in Venezuela.
His overall thoughts on the trip?
“The world is beautiful,” he concludes.