Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A Guide to Budget Travel

Most people think of travel as an expensive hobby, but this needn't be the case when you follow a few simple steps.  The bad news is that budget travel often means cutting back on luxuries, but you can still have a good time without digging too far into your pockets.  I’ve put together a list of some tips to help you save money next time you go away.

Seeing the world doesn't have to be expensive!

Stay in hostels

Okay, they may not be the height of luxury, but they are very cheap.  Although hostels are basic, most are clean and pleasant.  There is usually the option of sleeping in a shared dorm or a private room.  Private rooms, however, will be a lot more expensive than dorms (although cheaper than a hotel).  Dorms in hostels usually have bunk-beds and numbers in each dorm will vary; the more people sharing the room, the cheaper it will be.  A hostel will provide you with bedding and sometimes a towel, but you will generally be expected to make your bed up yourself.  Hostel accommodation can cost less than £10 a night, although in more popular locations, particularly large cities, can be a bit more than this.  I really enjoy staying in hostels, it can be a lot of fun.  It is usually very easy to meet other travelers when staying in a hostel - you’ll speak to so many people from all over the world.  Many hostels will offer perks such as free city tours, which are a great way of getting to know people, and allows you to get a feel of the place you are staying.

Book direct

Travel agents come with fees.  It can often be cheaper if you book direct with the airline and your hostel or hotel, as it cuts out agents’ fees.  It takes time, but book each section of your trip separately, so that you are able to shop around to find the cheapest options.

Travel with budget airlines

This one goes without saying.  The only thing I would say is that budget airlines tend to give very little leg room, so it is worth paying more for comfort on longer flights.  However, when travelling around Europe, I always fly with EasyJet or Ryanair.  As budget airlines are growing in popularity, there is an increasing list of destinations they fly to, with more exotic locations becoming more accessible.  Spend some time shopping around for flights - it really pays off.

Travel outside of the peak season

Because there is less demand for flights outside of the summer season, airlines often sell tickets at lower prices.  The cheapest flights are always found outside of the peak season, and although the weather isn't likely to be as good, the flights and accommodation will be very cheap!  Particularly with budget airlines, some of the winter flights go for pennies!  Places also tend to be less crowded.

Only take hand luggage

If I’m going away for a few days, I only take hand luggage with me.  Checking in luggage can add a lot onto the cost of the flight and heavy, bulky suitcases are a nuisance once you arrive.  Only take the essentials, and a good backpack.

Have picnics!

Once you arrive at your destination, the most expensive thing then is likely to be food.  Especially in large cities, or near tourist attractions, food can be expensive.  An alternative to this is picnics!  Many hostels will have a kitchen where you will be able to prepare sandwiches.  Supermarkets will be a lot cheaper for food and drinks than restaurants or cafés.  You also get to eat in the fresh air with a nice view!

Eat and shop off the tourist trail

Wherever in the world you visit, you are likely to be ripped off buying food in main squares or near the tourist attractions.  Instead, why not try the smaller cafés in the backstreets?  These are usually much cheaper, and more authentic.  You can really find some hidden gems in the most unlikely of places!

Walk everywhere!

In a lot of cities, public transport is expensive.  In cities which have underground metro systems, you miss out on so much of the city when you travel underground!  Walking is healthier and enables you to see more of the city.

Avoid tourist traps

The more popular the destination, the more expensive it is likely to be.  Places which are 'off the beaten track' tend to be a lot more reasonable, but also give you a much more 'authentic' experience of what life and culture is really like in that country.  For example, in the UK, London is very expensive, but as you head out into smaller towns, things become cheaper, and you get to see the 'real' UK.  The price of a lot of things will be doubled in London, compared to Cardiff.  It is also worth pointing out, that when travelling in Europe, the north and west tend to be very expensive, whereas the south and particularly the east are significantly cheaper.  Prices for accommodation will generally give you a good guide as to how expensive a place will be in general.

Free walking tours

Most major cities have will have a number of free walking tours in different languages.  I'm a big fan of walking tours - they give you a good insight into the place and allow you to meet people along the way.  Details of times and places to meet are usually available in hostels, but can also be found with a quick Google search. 

I hope you have found these tips helpful.  Just remember, traveling doesn't have to break the bank!  I hope you've found this useful.

Elis Griffiths. x

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