Contrary to what most people believe, travelling on a budget is a lot easier than you think and no, you don’t need to sell your internal organs on the black market or re-mortgage your house to fund you dream adventure.
I began travelling at 16 and have been lucky enough to tick a few places off my bucket list without breaking the bank, and whilst still enjoying the best travel experience. A lot of people have asked me how I managed to do this whilst still have enough money left over to maintain a reasonably well-styled wardrobe. So, instead of repeating my well-rehearsed script of travel tips, I thought I would share a few of my secrets with you:
BEFORE YOU GO:
Search high and low for the best deal:
Don’t just accept the first, second or even twentieth deal you see as the best or cheapest option- there will always be a better one just a few clicks away. Make good use of price comparison websites such as www.travelsupermarket.com, www.gocompare.com/holidays/ – the adverts make me want to throw a live grenade at my tv but the website is actually very useful. www.skyscanner.net is also a great way to search for the cheapest flights and offers its customers a calendar view of flight times to make things a little easier. Finally, www.statravel.co.uk offer reduced flight prices and holiday packages to students and will even help you plan an around the world trip on a budget! Also, I would highly recommend regularly checking websites such as www.groupon.co.uk and www.wowcher.co.uk as they often have great deals on holiday packages in Europe and beyond, with flights included.
Clear your internet history:
Believe it or not, big brother is watching you…. and it can see all of the flights you’ve just spent 3 hours looking at so begins slowly and subtly increasing the prices. Clear your internet history and watch the prices go down a little, then slap yourself across the face for not doing this for all the other holidays you booked.
Book in advance or wait until the last minute:
Booking in advance is one of the best ways to cut costs, usually 4-6 months beforehand you will find flight and hotel prices lower, especially if you’re booking out of season. However, If living on the edge is your kinda thaaang then take a gamble and book just before you go, a lot of websites will offer drastically reduced prices just before take off in a bid to fill up seats. #thuglyfe #highflyaaa #notscared #liamneeson
Ring up and quote:
If you have found a good deal but you’re still holding out for something a little cheaper, ring up ring up! Inform any flight or holiday company of the deal you have found and ask them if they can match it or throw in some extras for a reduced price- every company wants to be seen to offer its customers the best so 9 times out of 10 and if you sweet talk enough, you might just get a better deal.
Form a group:
No I’m not suggesting you reform the new spice girls, although if you are then I call dibs on posh spice. The more people you travel with, the less you will end up spending in the long run. The cost of everything will decrease- from transport, accommodation to food (unless you’re like me and will single handedly decapitate anyone who comes within a 10 mile radius of my food, using only my baby finger). BACK OFF B*****, THE CHIPS ARE MINE.
Utilise Ebay gumtree and Facebook sales pages:
You don’t need to sell off your entire wardrobe before you leave but gathering together some of your old clothes, bits of furniture and that old sewing machine you never actually use- and sticking it on sites like eBay are always a great way to make a bit of extra money to fund your travels.
Chose your destination wisely
Although in comparison to the UK every other country in the world seems cheap in price when faired against the good old pound- most of europe is still quite pricey in the long-run. Try spending less time in Europe and more time in cheaper places such as asia where you can live like an absolute King/Queen for a very low price.
Having been in this situation myself I can tell you this for free: Being told you don’t have travel or health insurance whilst stuck in the operation theatre of a hospital because you broke your toe trying whist to twerk to beyonce is NOT a memorable travelling experience. Make sure you get travel insurance BEFORE you go and carry those documents (or photocopies) around with you, you never know when you will need them. Travel insurance doesn’t have to be expensive either, go check out: www.moneysupermarket.com
WHEN YOU GET THERE:
Couch surfing is a great way to save money whilst you’re abroad, simply go to www.couchsurfing.com, sign up, create a profile and search for people living in your chosen destination. Most users have recommendations from previous couch surfers along with photos and a little bio so you can be sure you’ll find the right person to stay with- and all for free! However, do still have some sense of caution- Valentine living in madrid’s bio might say she works for a top law firm, enjoys intelligent conversations and lives in a swanky apartment but why are all her photos of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber?!
Who lives in a house like this?
Does anyone else still remember that show?! Anyway, similar to couch surfing is house sitting, just type it into google and you’ll see lots of people asking for someone to look after their house (or multi million pound mansion) whilst they’re away. Just remember that it’s not ACTUALLY your house meaning you can’t throw a massive party inviting the entire neighbourhood and half the playboy mansion over. Be mindful. Kind of like house sitting is www.airbnb.co.uk which offers rooms, apartments and houses to rent from a few days to a few months- all over the world.
Do you really need to buy that starbucks latte for $4 or could you use that very money to buy yourself a three course meal at a local restaurant this evening? Staying in a 5* hotel is obviously a luxury that we all want to experience at least once before we die but they can often be way over our budget. Check out the local hostels instead, they are often a lot more glamorous and safer than people realise and they’re also a great way of meeting new people and fellow travellers- travel fwennndss!
Sell your skills
Wether it’s your native English speaking skills, teaching skills or you’re a dab hand at crochet -don’t under-estimate how valuable these skills could be to others or how much people will pay for them.
Keep track of your spending
Without trying to sound like your mum, keeping a note of your expenditures whilst travelling is important. Not only will it help you keep track of what you have spent and what you spent it on. It will also help you to plan financially for the rest of your trip and avoid any money mishaps.
Besides the above, obviously temp work is a great way to earn money whilst still getting the travelling experience, just be sure to check the company is legit and you’re not going to be entering into some kind of 12 years a slave scenario.
Some useful websites:
To finish I would just like to say don’t get too cocky. I once (after a particularly carb-heavy meal) decided to tell the assistant at check-in that I was in the early stages of pregnancy in the hope of getting an upgraded seat. That I got.. right next to a young woman who actually was pregnant. By the end of the 6 hour trip, I knew everything about breast-feeding, baby names and had the over-whelming urge to start making babies with the first male I saw who maintained eyesight with me for longer that 10 seconds