I love travelling. I've tried to visit somewhere new almost every weekend of my year abroad so far, and I'm always thinking of or planning the next getaway. Unfortunately though I don't have unlimited funds, in fact I have very, very limited funds, as I still haven't received my ERASMUS grant yet *cries*. Because of the fact I'm a student and pretty much perpetually poor yet I'm always experiencing wanderlust, I've picked up a few tips for travelling without breaking the bank.
METHOD OF TRAVEL
This is where you can save SO much money by shopping around if you're prepared to do a bit of research. The things that most affect the price of travelling are:
- Means (bus, train, plane, horseback etc)
- Time of year and days of the week
- Time of the day
- How far in advance you book
The first thing to check is alternative methods of getting to where you want to go. For example this weekend, I'm heading to Bavaria. First we looked at trains and it was around €80 for a single ticket (and this is with a 50% off railcard) which is crazy money. A coach on the other hand is €14, takes around 20 minutes longer, but has free wifi. In Germany, fernbus is a great website for price comparisons.
If flying is your only option, Skyscanner is the BEST. Check nearby airports too, as travelling a bit further to an airport can still sometimes be less than the difference in the price of flights. If you can be flexible with dates check whole months as there can be huge differences as well.
Another big way to save costs, if you're ready to do research. If I'm going to be staying in a hotel, checking cash back websites is definitely a recommendation. I always use comparison websites such as hotels.com or booking.com to scout out prices in the area, and have often found a bargain there.
If you're travelling with a group or can get a group together, AirBnB could save you money. I usually don't find it cheaper than hotels when there's just two of you, but more than that means you can split the cost of the place and it can work out cheaper.
If you're open to the idea of staying in a hostel, this is usually the cheapest way. I find often when I'm travelling that I usually only use accommodation for sleeping, so staying in a hostel doesn't bother me. If you're travelling alone (and even if you're not) it's a great way to meet people too!
The best accommodation for saving money though is a friend's place! For year abroaders this is especially relevant as it's likely you'll have friends all over the place. At the weekend we're staying at our friend's flat so it's not costing us anything (except a drink) for accommodation.
Chances are you will be doing something at your destination. Another way of saving money is by booking tickets before you arrive. Usually discounts are offered for bookings in advance so it's worth doing, and will often save you time when you're there as you won't be queuing for tickets. By doing this, you can also work out if something you want to do is in your price range and find cheaper things to do as well.
- Never pay for breakfast at a hotel. Chances are it's not anything special, and you can find something much nicer in a local cafe. Or if you want to save even more money, buy something from a supermarket.
- Likewise, don't succumb and pay for wifi. There will always be a McDonald's where you can update your Instagram and post those snapchats.
- If you're visiting a city and you'll be travelling around a lot, check out the public transport and see if it would be cheaper to buy a travel card (usually is) rather than paying single fares. Avoid taxis.
- For year abroaders in Germany - definitely look into getting a railcard. I have a Bahncard50 which means I save 50% on all standard price train tickets and I've already earned the money back for what I paid for it in savings, but for those who would only use trains for longer journeys booked in advance, get a BahnCard 25. You get 25% saving of all tickets, including the Sparangebote tickets.