I travel quite a bit, I’ll be on my fourth holiday of the year in less than two weeks (A surfing trip to Bundoran) and I’m regularly asked how I can afford to do all these trips. When I reply to people that they’re not expensive, they don’t believe me, so I’ve decided to spill the beans on my top ten tips for cheap travel.
Cheap deals can often be found only at short notice, follow your favourite airlines and hotels on Twitter, be ready to book as soon as they announce a special offer. It is true too that booking miles in advance can be cheaper too and if you have your heart set on a destination, that could be your best option to ensure you get there for the best price possible. If all you want to do is get away though, just jump at last minute cheap unsold seats/rooms.
There are umpteen reasons to travel off-peak. If you can get a few days off work, or even just go on an off-peak weekend you’ll be greeted with a quieter city, smaller queues for attractions and even cheaper flights and accommodation.
Lots of people go to things just because ‘you can’t go to x and not do y’ but be wary of this way of choosing activities. Do some research, find out some lesser known attractions that you’d love to go to. We all have niche interests, why not satisfy them on holidays!?
Have a plan, but not a rigid plan. If you go somewhere with no ideas you’ll end up getting nothing done as you’ll have to do the investigations over there. Equally, if you over plan and go somewhere with a timetable, you’ll end up being disappointed when something runs over or when you can’t fit in something you find when you get there, striking a balance is essential.
Cheap accommodation outside city centre can be very tempting but think about the hour you’ll loose going in and out to it everyday and also about the cost of the transport. Often, when you add transport costs to cheap accommodation you’d be better off staying in the city centre. Also, all you’re going to do in a hotel/hostel is sleep, once it’s clean and quiet does it matter if it’s three stars or five?
Spending on holidays can very quickly get very out of hand. When you’re planning on going don’t forget to plan for food and other expenses before you book, just because the flights and hotels are cheap doesn’t mean you can afford to go! Also, keep an eye on what you’re spending, if you spend money without thinking you could find yourself struggling for food money on the final day of your trip.
Shop, or rather don’t. Avoid chain stores you can shop in back home unless you went on holidays planning on buying stuff in them. If markets or speciality shops are a part of the place you’re going, go there on the final day as you’ll know how much money you have to spend, and you won’t have to carry you’re shopping around for the rest of the holiday!
I’ve learnt this one the hard way, when you’re on holidays you tend to walk a lot more than when you’re at home and yet one tends to drink less. Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere and drink it through it the day. Buying a bottle in the airport is also a great way to get change for the bus/train to the city centre.
Students always know best for decent cheap food. If you search online for where the students go you’ll be bound to find a lovely dinner for a fraction of the cost of one in the tourist centre. Every city is different but a quick Google search will always point you in the right direction.
At the end of the day, you’re only going to be on holidays for a short time and if you spend the whole time thinking about money or trying to abide by tips you’ll end up having such a boring time. So above all make sure you have fun, you can worry about things when you get back home.