Travel Hacks: 6 Tips for Budget Travel
I think everyone will agree that going away on holiday is great, whether you are looking to relax, explore or even just escape the routine of everyday life. But holidays come at a cost and not all of us can afford to hand out our hard-earned cash and jet off whenever we please.
As a student, it certainly seems to be a case of having the time, but not the money, to travel and the money I do have has to be carefully budgeted to get me through the term at university and also to keep me occupied during my spare time and the long holidays.
However, for students or any budget travellers, there are a number of ways that can help to reduce the amount you spend. I have compiled a list of my top 6 tips below, hopefully they can also help you to get the most out of your money and take the stress out of stretching the budget.
1. Plan In Advance
Whilst last minute holidays are fine and usually pretty cheap, if you have a specific destination or trip in mind, it is important to plan your trip well in advance. This allows you to find the best deals on hotels and travel, and would save you potentially hundreds of pounds. Many hotel chains, as well as, train and airlines, offer cheap deals when booked as far as six months in advance. For example, a Eurostar ticket to Paris or Brussels can be as low as £69 instead of £120-150 when booked at short notice.
As they say, the early bird catches the worm!
2. Research Your Destination
Understanding your destination is a key part of travelling on a budget. Knowing what there is to see and do can help you plan where your money goes and can help form some sort of action plan once you are there. Having an idea of what you want to see, where these sights are and any directions (see Google Maps) between the various locations (either on foot or taking public transport), will prevent you from wasting time and money. Before setting off, I always check out the Independent’s ‘48 hours in‘ guides which help give me an overview of my destination, tips on where to eat and drink, as well as suggested itineraries to make the most out of your visit.
3. Do As The Locals Do
Although there have been times where this has come into question, I stick by the motto ‘do as the locals do’. In my opinion the best way to experience a city, or in fact a country, is to go to the places popular with the locals rather than the tourists, as not only does it give you a better insight into the country’s culture and traditions, but it also tends to work out better for the purse strings! Finding out local hotspots, for example, where the locals eat and drink, will give you a more authentic experience and usually save you from expensive surprises! From past experience, I’d advise you to avoid restaurants and cafes in the main tourist areas as you will pay a premium for the pleasure.
4. Getting Around
I would recommend finding out how the local transport networks work – many places have 24/48 hour travel cards which give you unlimited travel in and around the city. Some even include reduced rates for various tourist attractions or discounts in high street stores. It’s always worth checking out the boundaries of these tickets to see how far out of the city they will take you. When I was in Rome last Easter, we were able to use our city travel cards to travel up to half an hour outside the city to the ancient Ostia Antica, seaside ‘resort’ of Ostia Lido, and in the other direction, the hillside wine town of Frascati.
5. Suburbs or Dormitory Towns
If you are willing to compromise a slightly longer ‘commute’ to sights in the morning, you could consider the surroundings for cheaper accommodation. A few years ago I visited Florence but on researching the hotel prices I nearly changed my mind. However, as I was determined to stick to my ‘plan’ I began to search for accommodation in the surrounding area and eventually I came across a town just outside the city called Prato. The price for a room there was considerably lower and the journey into Florence took only 15 minutes. Another example is consider staying in Padua for trips into Venice. Padua is a delightful city in itself and well worth a visit, but also offers a cheaper place to stay for those wishing to visit the tourist centre of Venice. The train journey between the two cities is roughly half an hour and is not at all expensive.
6. Join Loyalty Schemes
My boyfriend likes to tease me about the number of loyalty schemes I belong to, points cards that I have and vouchers I collect, but this is all part and parcel of being money savvy (or so I like to think!). Most of the big hotel chains now run loyalty schemes which involve earning points which you can then redeem against future stays. Some examples of these reward schemes include Le Club Accor and Hilton HHonours. A number of airlines also offer similar reward schemes such as Avios (British Airways), Miles & More (Lufthansa) and AAdvantage (American Airlines). If I can get something back for spending my money, why wouldn’t I want to be part of it?
Do you have any tips for travelling on a budget? I would love to hear from you!