Brian Spigel wants to take you on an adventure — for no more than $1,000.

Spigel, a senior English major, recently returned to school after several years of working various jobs while traveling around the world. He said he came back to school to further his education.

Spigel is a traveler at heart, but how he travels is what makes him unique. Spigel has been planning and taking trips that all cost under $1,000. So far he has traveled to St. John in the Virgin Islands for $815, Alaska for $881 and he plans to visit Montreal, Ireland and Costa Rica. Spigel said he doesn’t travel to escape the domestic reality of home, but rather “to remind myself of life for a while.”

He said he will help you plan a trip free of charge if you are willing to abide by his four rules: Destinations must be outside of the contiguous United States; it must cost $500 or less in actual transportation fees and the entire trip must cost no more than $1,000. This is strictly a volunteer effort by Spigel, as he said he wants to see Americans travel to far away destinations in a non-traditional manner.

Spigel said his philosophy is simple: to “travel down, not up.” He said most people’s trips are done as a vacation where accommodations are luxurious, as opposed to his style of travel where comfort is sacrificed for the sake of the experience.

For example, Spigel recently journeyed to St. John where he enjoyed daily morning swims in the Caribbean, went scuba diving, hiked and kayaked around the coast while and living out of a campsite rather than a hotel room.

You can go almost anywhere for under a grand but this type of adventure is not for the faint of heart, said Spigel He said not to expect poolside pampering at a resort. Instead, you would be enjoying yourself in exotic locales while committing to a challenge to keep expenses under $1,000.

Spigel, originally from western New York, attended SUNY Geneseo, where he attained a bachelor’s degree in geography. He then spent two and a half years as a dishwasher in Antarctica and Australia, and then an English teacher in Thailand, before returning to hike the Appalachian Trail. Spigel said his experience working at and living on national parks such as Yellowstone and Acadia increased his desire for adventure. He said it was a natural progression for him to roam internationally.

Spigel said he’s always loved Maine, so when he got to the end of his Appalachian journey, he said it made sense to stay here. When he got from Nothern Maine down to Portland, his only possession was the pack he had carried on his Appalachian journey.

Despite all the trips he’s taken, Spigel said his favorite adventure was hiking the Appalachian Trail. “On the trail everyone is on equal ground. Life is simple and there is this constant challenge.”

For more information, go to Spigel’s website.


  1. Oh boy… a campsite…how “non-traditional”.

    Until you’ve spent a week living out of a dumpster behind a train station in a third world country for a vacation after traveling there via hitchiking thousands of miles, I don’t think you can promote “traveling down, not up.”


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