I think travel is something that appeals to most people and recently I’m seeing that it’s only becoming more popular. A lot of people who want to travel are only young and may still be in college or only have a part-time job like me, so it’s important to know how to budget your travel. I’m not claiming to be an expert at all, however, I would like to share with you a brief summary of how I myself travel on a budget.
Flights can be very, very expensive depending on where you look for them and where you intend to fly to. Personally I use a website called Skyscanner and don’t have to go anywhere else. It allows you to compare the majority, if not all, of flight suppliers and see which is cheapest for a certain place. Obviously the more flexible you are the more options have and therefore are more likely to find cheaper flights. There are a number of ways that you can use Skyscanner…
If you just want to get away and go anywhere– To find the cheapest of all flights you can select the airport you wish to fly from and then when it asks for a destination just type in ‘everywhere’. When asked for a departure/return date, you can click ‘whole month’ and then ‘cheapest month’. This will then search for the cheapest flights going anywhere throughout the whole year. For example, from Manchester I found that in November I could fly to Nuremberg, Germany for £18 return. Bargain!
If you know your destination but are flexible with the dates– You can select your from and to airports and then follow the same departure/return process from above! This will show you the cheapest flights to a certain destination throughout the whole year. For example, I found flights from Manchester to Helsinki, Finland in January for £122 return.
If you know your dates but are flexible with the destination– Simply select your chosen dates and then your departure airport and then search ‘everything’ for your destination. This will show you the cheapest flights available for your dates. For example, flying from Manchester on 14th-18th February, Brussels, Belgium was the cheapest flight available at £21 return.
If you know both your destination and dates– Easy. Select your airports and dates and the cheapest flights on those days should show.
By budget travel, I don’t mean staying in dirty hotel rooms in the middle of nowhere just because it’s cheap. There are a number of websites available to compare standard hotel prices such as Tripadvisor, Trivago and Expedia.
However, I like Booking.com.
With Booking.com, you select your destination and dates and it shows all hotels available for your search. What I tend to do is sort the hotels by ‘lowest price first’, then work my way through them from the lowest priced until I find one that is in a good location, near transport links and one that suits my needs.
I’m not fussy at all when it comes to hotels and will stay in hostels and places with shared bathrooms etc, after all you are only going to be sleeping in there however I do appreciate that some people just don’t like this option, which is fine. These type of places usually come first when sorted by price. If you can stay in a place like this that either has a good location or good transport links, save the money you’d spend on a better hotel and just stay there. It’s so worth it. Honestly, it’s not that bad anyway. Especially if you’re a solo traveller; you tend to meet more people this way and people are often travelling on their own too.
Lastly I’d just like to mention the fact that on this website you can book your hotel and have free cancellation on most places. Meaning that if you like the look of a hotel and would be happy to stay there but are worried you may find a better hotel, you can still book it and then cancel it if you find a better one. Be careful to read the terms of the cancellation policy though because if you cancel after a certain date you could be charged. Hotels usually allow free cancellation up until a few days or even 24 hours before you are due to stay.
Another option to consider when thinking about accommodation is Airbnb. This is a website where people list accommodation which they are happy to rent out. This can be a shared room, private room in a shared space or a place entirely to yourself. Using Airbnb is generally a lot cheaper than hotels and you can find some amazing places on there like retro trailers, cottages or even an island to yourself(obviously this wouldn’t be for a budget traveller but it’s a nice thought and is still cheaper than I expected it to be!).
Lastly, I will mention Couchsurfing. This is a website where individuals open their homes to travellers and let you stay there for free, unless stated otherwise. However it is nice to bring a small present from home or take them for dinner to say thank you. If you are travelling alone this is a good option as it is usually preferred that only one person stays at a time and more often than not, your host will be happy to show you around and join you on your adventures. Great for making new friends around the world!
Don’t forget when planning to travel that you have to factor in all other extraneous costs too. You need to ask yourself many questions before booking anything. What is the cost of getting to and from both airports? What is the cost of baggage if I take more than hand luggage? How much will I spend on food? What sight-seeing do I want to do and does it cost anything?
There is so much research to be done if you want to budget travel. For example, I recently travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark and took my little sister with me because the flights were cheap. I bought the tickets on impulse but I didn’t factor in food costs and let me tell you, it was expensive. For the two of us together we paid around £25 for a KFC which would have cost us less than £10 at home. As we wanted a budget travel we decided to live off McDonald’s which was a cheaper option at around £15, still expensive though! I looked it up and they have a higher minimum wage over there which is probably why food costs etc are higher.
That is just one example of why it is so important to do your research before booking any flights or hotels.
That’s it for how I travel on a budget. I hope I have helped in some way and if anyone has any questions, suggestions or comments then feel free to comment below!