Travelling has never been so easy or so cheap.
Airfares and hotels, although the most expensive part of your holiday, have stayed relatively cheap over the years in many destinations.
Taking inflation into account, the average airfare is the same or cheaper than it was 10 years ago.
Saying all of that, costs do pile up and your holiday budget can disappear quicker than you’d like.
But as a well seasoned traveller, I have several tricks for making my holiday money go further while at the same time having all the fun. I know. I’m just clever like that.
So without any more rambling, here are my cheap travel tips.
Go Self Catering
This one is kinda a no brainer. Having the option to cook at your holiday digs can save you stacks of money.
The average meal out in, for example, France – is easily €20 per person. Then you end up having a few drinks, maybe grabbing an ice cream.
Sure food is part of your holiday expenditure and part of the pleasure of travelling but you don’t need to eat out for EVERY meal. You can save a lot by just having a few meals at home.
This is a lot easier with things like AirBnB where you usually have access to a kitted out kitchen. However, many hostels, hotels and apartments also have at least a kitchenette so make the most of it and save a good wedge of cash.
When shopping for flights you can find a massive difference in price with just a few days leeway. Yup, sometimes you gotta go on a certain date and come back on a specific other, but if you can tweak it some you may save yourself a few pennies.
Take a look at SkyScanner, put in your destination but on the dates put ‘whole month’ or ‘cheapest’.
Another option is to check alternative airports. For example, flying from Stanstead or Luton in London is often cheaper than Heathrow or Gatwick.
Also, flying into airports such as Venice-Marco Polo may be more expensive than flying into Treviso or Verona (both just down the road).
Hotels in these outlying towns can also be cheaper than being in the centre, especially in places like Venice, Barcelona, New York etc.
Bear in mind transport costs to and from the airport though which can sometimes invalidate any savings.
Moving Around Costs Money
If you’re zipping around trying to see everything that’s when costs add up. Transport is expensive, especially taking long distance trains or buses.
Try and enjoy the place you’re in, soak up the vibe. Ask yourself do you really need to run off to another town down the road when you could just relax?
Backpackers will benefit from staying put in places for a few days longer rather than just rocking up, taking a few pics and running away again. You’ll find you connect much more with the locals and see more than just the standard sites.
Get Off Yo’ Butt…
Public transport is often best avoided for numerous reasons. First of all it costs money. Second, you see so much more if you walk around. And a bonus third, it’s free exercise and it’s good for you.
Walking isn’t always do able, some cities like New York, Hong Kong or London have far flung areas that need to be linked by using the tube or ferry.
Saying that, places like London and Hong Kong definitely benefit from an aimless wander. Both of these cities have a centre which can be discovered on foot as can places like Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Sydney, Auckland etc.
As the saying goes, you need to take time to stop and smell the roses. Get out and about and you’ll discover way more.
CouchSurfing is a great way to save money by staying at peoples houses for free.
The thing with that though is you can’t really treat the place like a hotel, you have to realise your staying with someone. For free. Take them a present at least.
Done right, its a great way to meet the locals and have an entirely different travel experience.
However, there are quite a few horror stories about people not respecting their hosts or people using it as an opportunity to be a sleazebag.
Don’t be one of them. It ruins CS for the rest of us.
Plan Your Budget
Although we all like to travel as cheaply as possible, we still gotta have some fun. Why go all that way abroad just to count the pennies?
By working out your average daily spend you can work out where you can afford to splash out.
On a beach holiday? Pay for a scuba trip or go on a kayak tour… Seeing a new city? Splash out on the big attraction and find a cool bar for a sundowner.
When you look back you’ll remember what you did, not how much it cost.
So even if you’re trying to travel cheap, don’t be a cheapskate. Travel smart and enjoy your hard earned break!
If you want to read more of my travel writing head over to Gone Travelling Magazine where you can read all my worldy wisdom about travel.