Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Anybody can Travel. Yes, You too.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
"Do you ever work?" ask people on my social network pages. Yes, I do, most of the time, actually. But it's a legit question because they see trip reports posted every two or three months. At the moment of writing this post I have two trips lined up: one to Prague in December (Christmas market \(^_____^)/ ) and one to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in January. And who knows what will happen in between! The aim of this post is to shed some light on how one can afford to travel without breaking the bank. Basically speaking, there are two ways to travel.

The first way is to compile a so-called "bucket list" of your desired destinations and research each of them carefully. Make a budget for travel, accommodation, sights, transport, food, extras, save up and start looking for good deals. I jump at the chance to tick off a destination on my list as soon as I see a good deal on either travel arrangement (flights, buses, trains) or accommodation because they erode most of the trip budget. For me, a good discount on either of these two is a catalyst to go.

The second way is to choose one big trip and save for it until you have a desired sum. For example, last year I went to Provence. I had been saving for a year before I actually went putting about 20 EUR a week to my bank savings account. If you want to go scuba diving to Australia, you might be saving for longer than that but eventually every dream trip is achievable-isn't it great?

I do not advocate spontaneous last minute trips because they are hardly the cheapest-airport transfer is expensive, budget hostels are dumps, eating out is unreasonable, etc etc. 

Now let's move onto breaking down some of the expenses.

Means of travel include some good cheap flight operators like Rynair, Wizzair, EasyJet and some  search systems like Azuon or Skyscanner help you locate the best deals. Also, if flights are not for your budget, there are buses and trains as an option to air travel-they might be slower but more budget friendly, which means you will have money to spend on better accommodation, perhaps.

Accommodation is probably the biggest burden on budget travel. The cheapest way to stay in a foreign country is usually in hostels, which can be booked at such websites like Hostelworld or Hostelbookers, also good deals can be located on AirnB. If you decide to make a booking, the best way is to do that directly with the place because other third party bodies sometimes take a commission on your booking. I also read the reviews of the places I'm thinking of staying at and many people complain that they book through third party websites but the places don't receive their bookings, so I advice, in case of making a booking through a booking website, to contact the accommodation place to check if they got it.

Food can be cheap if you know how to behave. I always take a small kettle with me to boil water and pre-packed food like instant noodles, coffee and tea, biscuits to last for the start until I locate a supermarket or a market nearby. Cafes and restaurants can be good value for money if they offer business lunches for a fixed price. Ideally, look for accommodation that includes breakfast and carry your own refillable water bottle.

Public transportation is the cheapest way to travel in the city. I usually buy day passes because I never need to worry about changing buses, which happens quite often in a new place. Also, some countries have timed tickets for public transportation and if you are new in town it's difficult to figure out how much time you need to get to places- a needless worry with a day pass. 

Sightseeing is the third most expensive thing after travel arrangements and accommodation. The most budget-friendly way is to use city cards, especially if they include public transportation. However, I advise to do your homework and calculate the entrance fees separately because it might be cheaper to pay for the sights individually than buy a city card. Also, make sure you hold a valid ITIC or ISIC card if you are entitled to it because some museums might offer discounted tickets. Try to plan your itinerary so as to include some of the main sights on their free of charge visiting day. Do use the opportunity to join a free city tour (and do leave a tip for the guide). 

Finally, remember that

Fail to plan-plan to fail :-)

This post mentions some brand names but it is not sponsored and all opinions are mine. I did not include any links in it because I don't want to clutter this into a useless SEO post, which it is not.

Feel free to add your point of view in the comment section.

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