If those online lockdown shopping sprees have left any survivors in your bank account, then you’ll no doubt be in need of some money-saving tips – especially when dreaming of the day when you can finally escape Boris for a few weeks. Lockdown or not, money has always been an obstacle when travelling and, as students, we know better than anyone that money does most definitely not grow on trees. Spending a small fortune on travelling is therefore out of the question. To make travelling both more affordable and more accessible, here are my top tips on how best to be a savvy traveller.
Wave goodbye to over-priced hotels! Accommodation is certainly one of the areas where hundreds can be saved, with the price difference between hotels and hostels almost astronomical. Hostel World is a brilliant website where you can find hostels and accommodation for reasonable prices, and you can also read reviews from past guests to make sure that a hostel is safe. However, if like many you’re horrified at the prospect of sleeping in a room full of strangers – or worse, snorers – then do look into private rooms. Whilst more expensive than dorms, they’re still much cheaper than hotels, and often just as comfortable. In addition, hostels are fantastic social hubs where you’ll be sure to meet an array of interesting and like-minded people. If you’re looking for affordable comfort, then Airbnb is another option with which you can often get entire apartments or houses to yourself. Or, if like me, your stinginess overrides your comfort standards, then I’d suggest looking into campsites. It’s often possible to find places on campsites for under €10, and I can honestly say that the nights I’ve spent camping have been some of my most memorable! Alternatively, if it’s free comfort you’re after, then certainly consider Couchsurfing. This organisation connects hosts and guests from across the world, and you can stay with them for free!
If travelling in Europe, then Flixbus is your new best friend. Whilst travelling by coach may take a small age and sitting next to sweaty strangers isn’t exactly ideal, it is guaranteed to save you a fortune in the long run. Also, do make sure to check out BlaBlaCar, a car-share company that links drivers and passengers travelling in the same direction for very reasonable prices. BlaBlaCar offers a women-only service and requires all passengers and drivers to be verified, making it a much safer option than hitchhiking. That said, however, I wouldn’t rule hitchhiking out entirely. Arguably one of the most environmentally friendly ways of travelling, hitchhiking can also lead to brilliant conversations, new friends, and a much happier bank account! However, it’s important to hitchhike safely; always note down the number plate of the car you get into and never hitchhike alone.
The issue with exclusively staying in hotels is that you don’t have any cooking facilities, which inevitably leads to spending eye-watering amounts on eating out. However, food does not need to be expensive. If you instead opt for a hostel or an Airbnb then you’re more than likely to have access to a kitchen, meaning you’ll spend no more on food than you would at home. But don’t forget, you are on holiday after all – so don’t feel guilty about treating yourself to the odd meal out, perhaps just don’t go for the lobster!
Whilst some activities can be expensive, in every city and country there are countless inexpensive (and even free!) things to do. One option that I couldn’t recommend highly enough, is free walking tours. Walking tours operate on a donation-only basis, meaning that you simply give what you can at the end of the tour. However, while you’re not obliged to give anything, it is only fair to at least donate a little bit, as the volunteers who run them depend on these donations. In addition, before going to a country be sure to read up on any places offering student discounts – museums and galleries are brilliant for this and some may even let you in for free. Or, if you’re travelling more rurally then hiking is another good option – all you need is a map and a sturdy pair of trainers, and you’re good to go. And, of course, when abroad it is very important to sample the local beverages… there really is no avoiding the price of alcohol, but I would suggest asking locals for recommendations so that you don’t get overcharged.
With somewhat of an interesting name, WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a mutual exchange where you work for bed and board. It is the perfect way to explore a country or region without spending any money! Usually, you’re expected to work for 4-5 hours in the morning, but you have afternoons and weekends free to explore or travel. I couldn’t recommend WWOOFing highly enough; not only is it a cheap way to travel, it is also an incredible opportunity to learn more about agriculture, the environment and sustainability – not to mention having a local host with extensive knowledge and suggestions about the area. There are also other initiatives with a similar premise, such as au pairing, Work Away, and volunteering.
Featured image: Dr._Colleen_Morgan on Flickr.