Searching and trying out new tips and hacks how to travel low cost is one of my most favourite activities (hence the name of this blog) but the biggest problem I find in the whole travel hacking is, that it’s mostly restricted to those, who are either willing to spend a lot of time tweaking open-jaw airfares or those, who can earn frequent flyer miles.
Or for those, who are willing to travel literally for free by sleeping on benches, someone’s couch, moving from place to place solely by hitchhiking and feed themselves by dumpster diving. (Ok, maybe it’s a bit too much, but you get the idea)
But most of the ordinary people don’t want to do all or any of the above. Some people cannot earn flyer miles because airlines who offer frequent flyer programs are simply too expensive to use. And some people want the comfort of their own privacy and don’t want to sleep with strange people in the same room, or, in the same flat.
So I’ve written these tips for those, who want to spend less on their travelling without sacrificing the comfort. For those, who can afford to book a hotel room or a modest apartment but don’t want to spend hundreds on economy class in British Airways (especially on short-haul flights). For those, who want to get the most for their buck and still have lots of fun.
Below you can find small, simple tips and tricks that anyone can do without a deep knowledge of how complicated airfares work. Use these actionable (I know it’s such a buzzword but it says it well) tips to make the most of your next trip and any visit that awaits you in the future.
I hope you’ll enjoy them!
1. Be flexible
The very first rule – be flexible with your dates as well as your destination. This approach leaves a plenty of options when you can plan a trip that would totally suit your budget and needs.
2. Mind your travel snacks
Replace sandwiches and sweet bars bought at the airport for home made snacks.
3. Compare prices
Always compare the prices of accommodation before booking. My favourites are Booking.com and Agoda.com
4. Book your accommodation on Airbnb
If hotel prices are still over your budget and hostel isn’t an option, book a flat or room on Airbnb. Here you can find how to choose wisely.
5. Forget travel sized toiletries
Don’t let fool yourself by travel toiletries at the airport – those tiny little things are ALWAYS overpriced… Hell, sometimes you don’t even need to buy a smaller size of your favourite product! Think about toothpaste. It took me quite a while to realise than normal toothpaste is around 75ml which is still way less than the 100ml limit so you can take your regular tube instead of buying the cute looking miniatures. The same applies to many other cosmetic products. So instead of stocking up travel sized toiletries next time try to just look carefully at the packaging. You can also buy empty 100ml bottles and pots and just fill them with your favourite products that you use at home. It will still be cheaper than buying travel sized products again and again!
6. Choose low-cost airlines
If you can, always choose low cost airlines and don’t fear smaller and second tier airports.
7. Go by bus
If time doesn’t present an issue for you, enjoy travelling by super-cheap buses such as Megabus, Eurolines or National Express.
8. Go by a high-speed train… if the deal is good
From time to time, check high speed train services for special offers and deals. With special offers, a train journey can be cheaper and more comfortable than flying. Eurostar, Thalys and Trenitalia should be the main ones among your bookmarks.
9. One day trips
If your trip includes a smaller, compact city such as Brussels or Bratislava, consider just a one day visit instead of staying over a night. Save your budget for sleeping in bigger cities that require more time to explore!
10. Self-guided tours
Free, self guided tours are incredibly easy to do these days with tons of information you can find on internet. Scout websites like Wikitravel (my personal favourite), Tripadvisor, Spotted by Locals and Lonely Planet for tips. With apps like Tripomatic you can put all points of your tour into a personal, customized guide and download it on your phone.
11. Go on a free city tour
12. Eat cheap, eat local
Avoid flashy restaurants in tourist areas. Instead, do a research of cheap, local places with help of sites like Spotted by Locals or Yelp.
13. Seek free attractions
It always amazes me how many great things you can see entirely for free. Think museums in London or Louvre. The latter is free only on chosen days, but still… you have plenty of options to see so much for free. Just search beforehand.
14. Optimise your travel outfit
If you’re not big on fashion, optimise your travel outfit. Make it as practical as possible and wear materials that are comfy, functional, don’t wrinkle and dry quickly. Travelling only with a hand luggage should go without saying. The good thing is, the optimised outfit will help you fit in strict hand luggage limits.
15. Fly mid-week
If you can, plan your flights to be in the middle of the week rather than on weekend. From my experience tickets are most expensive (sometimes it’s more than twice the price) on Friday outbound and Sunday/Monday inbound. Everyone loves a good weekend break which might be quite annoying but on the other hand, you can save quite a bit if you go against the flow. Not to mention smaller crowds at the airports.
16. Go off season
Choosing shoulder & low seasons is a similar strategy to beat to crowds and have lower prices for everything – starting with flights and ending with local accommodation. Of course, not everyone can genuinely enjoy a December trip in Northern Europe with temperature circling zero, but for example October and April can be still very pleasant in Mediterranean countries.
17. Don’t book breakfast
If breakfast isn’t included in your hotel bill, don’t book it separately. For the extortionate price hotels charge you can have two or three breakfasts in some nice cafe around the corner. The worst case scenario is McCafe or a similar fast food chain with a cup of coffee and croissant. And that still doesn’t sound very bad, does it?
18. Invest in day tickets
When you’re travelling for a short time, it makes sense to choose accommodation as close to major attractions as possible. But with extremely high prices in some cities, it makes even more sense to book a flat farther from the centre, especially if it’s a progressive city with good public transportation. Scandinavian cities are a great example – they possess both, very expensive accommodation and great transit options within the city. If you choose a hotel/apartment in zones that are a bit farther from the centre and invest a bit of saved money into a day ticket for public transport, you’ll have much better standard of accommodation that you would have in the centre for the same price and, and this is equally important, after a long day you won’t be tired from walking on foot everywhere because you will want to use your day ticket to the max. These tickets can be most of the times used on various types of transport so you can choose whatever suits you. And speaking of Scandinavian countries, for example in Stockholm you can use your day ticket even for a ferry and do a little island hopping!
19. Holiday Pirates
Holiday Pirates was one of my biggest finds in 2014 and I still can’t praise them enough. This website gives you plenty of tips for low cost holidays, last-minute offers and even notifies you of error flights and promo fares! Sign up to their mailing list and keep an eye on them in social media, they are really worth it.
20. Earn credits for accommodation
By now you know that booking through Airbnb can be a more affordable and comfy alternative to hostels and hotels. But you can make Airbnb work for you even more – you can earn credits for referrals (ie people who book their stay through your link) which you can then use to book your stay! Potentially, you can book any apartment for free, or almost. Isn’t that cool?
Use crowdfunding to fund your travels if your itinerary involves some kind of a higher purpose. Trevolta is probably most known and popular crowdfunding site for travellers so if you haven’t yet, register yourself and get tons of inspiration on how you can market your trip to make others pay for it.
22. Home sitting
Apart from Airbnb credits, there are some other things you can consider to find free accommodation – home sitting is probably the most appealing option and also becoming very trendy lately.
Or, if you’re a more adventurous type, volunteer for food and a roof above your head!
These were 23 things you can do to travel more for less. Do you have any favourite tips you could share? Let me know in the comments 🙂
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