Now, I may not be the most traveled of anyone out there, or indeed even out of my friends, but my various trips abroad have taught me a thing or two about holidaying on a budget.
I’ve been a student for nearly all of my life – in fact I’ve only joined the ‘real world’ in the past few weeks – so I’ve had to learn how to manage my money and acquire budget-saving travel tips.
With young people now set to be the first generation who will be worse off than their parents, the need for cheaper travel seems only set to increase. We want to know about and see more of the world, but will have remarkably less money (and more debt) to do so.
So, as a small helping hand for those fellow young wanderlusters out there, I’ve compiled a list of my most effective, honest, and cheap, travel tips.
Hope it helps!
Many guides out there show the importance of a Tuesday. Time and time again it comes up as not only the cheapest day to book a flight, but also the cheapest day to actually travel This may be awkward for all those working classic the Mon-Fri and seeking to take advantage of the bank holiday weekends, but unfortunately it may work out cheaper to bite the bullet and use some of those holiday days.
For me, this has usually always been true – my flights on a Tuesday do come out cheaper. However, there is now some shifting debate about whether or not Tuesday is still the best day to book on…some are even now saying it’s the which weekend offers the cheaper deals. Watch this space.
Those ‘bargain breaks’ may not be so ‘bargainy’
Wowcher and Groupon may be great for fueling your wanderlust, but definitely do your research before you book one of their ‘unmissable’ deals. They advertise prices with 60% off, but in fact you may be able to find it much cheaper elsewhere anywhere. I constantly see city breaks around Europe for about £80pp, which yes OK, is cheap. But it’s not the cheapest. Furthermore, read the small print: the flights can be crappy, meaning you don’t get a lot of time in your destination, and legally they’ve not mis-sold you anything.
I actually booked one of Wowcher’s city breaks – a trip to Berlin for 2 nights for £69pp. Bargain, right? Wrong. When I called up to book the break after purchasing my voucher, I was told the flights would mean I leave the UK at 10pm, and then return at 5am….so I get pretty much a day in the city. I ‘upgraded’ to get better flights, but for an extra £30pp. The hotel too wasn’t great. Although it was clean and nice-enough, it wasn’t ideally located and it took as a while to get to everything we wanted to see, again wasting both time and money.
Safe to say, I haven’t booked with Wowcher again.
That said, you can get some amazing package deals
Although my experiences with Wowcher aren’t great, there are fab holiday companies out there which will deliver some great deals to your email inbox on a regular basis. Don’t just delete them or mark them as spam. Some hold valuable bargains. Our trip to Bali and Kuala Lumpur this year is an example of this. I must admit, when I first saw that this company were offering a 10-night multi-centre trip for £495pp which INCLUDED return flights, luggage, and breakfast, I thought there must a catch. The flights must be crappy, the hotels basic, you would have to go over winter, something like that. Thankfully, you didn’t have to book online beforehand, so I rang up and inquired. Nope. Everything checked out, and the guy even let me have time to think about it. He also extended the time in which you had to pay off the holiday, meaning we only had to put down a small deposit that day and again meaning more time to save.
So yes, we got a trip to Bali, and Kuala Lumpur, in May, with return flights, and luggage, and breakfast, in two amazing hotels (upgraded in both when we got there) for just £495pp. There are good people (and companies) out there.
If you’re on a budget, you unfortunately can’t go everywhere. Everyone has their own personal bucket-list, so stick to it. I’m guilty of doing a Skyscanner search and just looking for the cheapest flight out there, kidding myself that I can spend a week in a relatively unknown town in France because the flights were £10 return. Thankfully, I’ve never followed through.
Those flights are probably cheap for a reason – there’s nothing to do there, the accommodation is expensive, or the airport is actually in the middle of nowhere.
Instead, save up for that ‘bucket list’ trip. Don’t spend that £50 you’ve got left over at the end of the month just because you have it. Save it. Wait till next month and spend a little more on somewhere you actually want to go to. It will be worth it and you’ll be more excited for the trip.
This kind of ties into all the other tips so far, and is probably obvious to most. However, it’s actually something that quite a lot people overlook…including occasionally myself. We see a cheap flight, or a cheap hotel deal, and we get all excited and convince ourselves we’re going, that’s that all we’ll have to spend.
Do your research; how much will it cost you to get to the airport, both in the UK and abroad? How much are attractions in said destination, and is there enough free stuff? How much is food, and transport around the city? Make a clear, detailed, and concise budget, then decide if you can really afford to go or if a little more saving is needed.
There’s nothing worse than ‘excited-booking’ a trip then realising you can’t afford the coach to the airport and you don’t have any money to spend once you’re there….believe me, I’ve been there.
The travel community are awesome
Finally, on a happier note, make use of the travel community. There are literally tons of people out there looking to offer advice, tips, itineraries, lesser-know places to see, etc. From my short-time in the travel community on Twitter, I’ve learnt that everyone supports one-another, and everyone loves recommending things to do. Most respond to Tweets straight away, and using a simple hashtag or two will soon engage the community if you are looking for any insider knowledge/advice.