How to travel
We all have those friends who post those awe-inspiring pictures being in a bikini at sunset, or walking with elephants and always seem to be on holiday somewhere beautiful and exotic. But you always know that you can't afford it or get the time off work... or can you?
2017; Romania, Poland, Corfu, Italy, Morocco
2016; Lisbon, Dubai, Gothenburg, Cuba
2015; Corfu, Copenhagen, and Edinburgh
2014: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and New Zealand
2013; New York
2012; France, Switzerland, Milan and Germany by road trip
2011; Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Rome, Venice, Barcelona and France
So yeah, a fair amount. And all (mainly) paid for off my own back. Now I'm not someone who has always had a lot of money, and apart from a small inheritance from my grandfather when I was younger which paid for my Inter-Rail pass, have managed to see all these countries mainly by myself. Over the years I've learnt the easiest ways to save to be able to travel with some pretty easy methods and travel tips.
Don't panic buy trends, mini beauty products, suitcases
It's easy to think 'holiday = new outfits and raiding the boots counter' but this easily becomes nearly half of the cost of the trip. Make sure you have little bottles that you can refill, or if travelling for a long time, you'll want your standard bottle of Herbal Essences seeing as you're there a while. If not fussy, even buy the stuff out there, depending if the country is cheaper. And with the wardrobe, stick with the classics; baggy cotton trousers, classic denim shorts, t-shirts, leggings, a nice skirt and trainers. Then have a small suitcase you can take as hand luggage (for small weeks away) or a standard backpack for travelling (no bigger than 50l, no matter how long the trip and get a front zip, not a top opening one). You can't go wrong. This graphic is perfect for having the essential pieces:
Use your birthday for flight tickets or hotels
It's hard having nothing to unwrap or to not ask for that cute dress you saw in Topshop, but I've realised the older I get, the more valuable experiences are than a nice bag or watch. So ask for them to pay for half of your accommodation, or your plane tickets, as you'll always remember that week you spent in a gorgeous city over the skirt that's out of style two months later. And makes it much more affordable when it's your money spent on excursions instead of the hotel and flights.
Scrimp on accommodation and travel
It's hard to go basic when the basic really is tough on the ol' bones. But don't be tempted to buy into that expensive pretty hotel or first class flights when it's such a small part of the holiday. Always see if you can get upgraded as sometimes you'll get lucky, but if you want to see the place itself, save your cash for the actual place, not where you lay your head. Which leads onto...
Share rooms through Airbnb and hostels
Depending on the experience, hostels are the way to go. Having been in ones as cheap as £1.20 a night, sure they're basic but you meet amazing people who may be your best friends along the way as well as finding a quirky place that has a house cat or a hammock zone. Look for a few certain things; cleanliness, safety and location (being central then saves you on bus and train fares obviously) but forgo style. For a place that you'll be staying in for seven hours only to sleep, don't waste the money. If you want privacy, Airbnb can offer you a bit more but even if you have to share with someone, they can usually give you the inside secrets of the locals.
Learn the deals
Learning the tricks of the trade is the way to reduce prices, and one is to travel in weekdays. Obviously Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are normally more expensive (my £16 flight to Copenhagen went up to £40 just one day later) so it can make a huge difference when you go, if you can get off mid-week. Even keep an eye out for buying flights either last minute or super in advance, as that's when you can find the offers. Whilst not experiencing it myself, I've heard that places like BA do amazing Christmas sales so take advantage of that too!
Find the free things to do
When they say 'the best things in life are free', they weren't wrong. In Europe especially, there is an abundance of cash-saving things you can do. Free walking tours are the way to go as you learn about the city as well as getting your bearings, and only pay a tip you think they deserve. Many museums have a free day of the month you can go, such as the first Friday, or even if you're a student or under a certain age for free/reduced prices. It's worth always speaking to people or even hopping on Google; I found a tower that was free to see the whole of the city, compared to people who paid £5 for one that was basically the same height. Score.
Shop for cheap money exchanges
Think the Post Office is a bargain when exchanging money? All I'll say is think again then head to Money Saving Expert, as I narrowly avoiding going to M&S which was a much worse exchange rate than a stall I found on the Shard.
Plan a daily budget
It can be easy to go mad but stick to a daily budget so you don't end up with your last few days miserable. Different places require different amounts, but I easily survived on £20 a day in major cities and much less for places in Asia (New Zealand and New York, was much more of a struggle). If you know of a few nice cafes, make them your splurge then head to the supermarket for some cheese, bread and ham for a much more affordable and authentic dinner. And hey if you have a cheap day, roll that money over to the next and live like a King for the day!
A few things I do recommend for budget travellers;
Ice Lolly (great for cheap package deals with flights, hotels and transfers to take the hassle out)
Cheap Flights (for finding the cheapest flights on the market)
Inter-Rail (for first time travellers wanting to see a lot of Europe with a bit of security)
Kiwi Bus (easy travel of New Zealand with great people to meet and activities planned)
and HostelWorld (the place to find hostels that are recommended from others).
Otherwise all you have to do is save, save, save! Sacrifice those meals out and expensive nights on the town. Whilst living at home, I managed to save £10,000 in one year, which a good chunk of went towards my three months around Asia and New Zealand. All I can say is travelling is such a priceless experience that it's worth more than the money ever will be.
Hit me up with any questions and I'd be happy to help, and happy travelling!