I hate daily routine. Who doesn’t? Waking up early in the morning, slogging your way to work either with zombies in public transport or in a traffic jam. And then you get to your job and there’s a huge amount of work so that you have no time to live, everyday cooking or cleaning or paying bills or solving problems and problems and problems… and there comes the time that you get fed up with all of this and you decide to take a vacation.
So what to do on vacation? The answer is obvious – travel! Only traveling clears your mind, changes your philosophy and helps you to “reboot”.
You have million places you want to go to, but browsing the regular flight costs or prices for travel packages you just become horrified and amused, thinking how the hell that girl from Instagram, that teases with her photos all the time, works to get so much money on traveling around the globe?!? Relax. There is one truth I want to share with you – You don’t need to be rich to travel. Just accept that and let’s repeat again – You don’t need to be rich to travel! But you need to have some guts, to be enthusiastic, outgoing and open to new experiences. Still don’t believe me? Here are some tips that will turn your world upside down and will make you jump from your couch and beg your boss for vacation.
Before discussing some essential tips remember the rule that works the best – browse and do the research
The key to a great trip is being prepared. Spend some time to find out everything about your destination. Read blogs, forums, travel guides, ask your friends, relatives, that girl from Instagram.
Tip #1 Fly smart
As soon as you’ve decided to fly to your destination pay attention to these timely tidbits of advice:
- Planning everything in advance will save you lots of money. The earlier you book your ticket the cheaper it will cost.
- Flights with departure dates in the middle of the week are always cheaper. Friday is the most expensive day for flying. Tuesday and Thursday are the cheapest
- Tickets for strange curvy routes are cheaper than tickets for direct flights
- Use low cost airlines like Easyjet, Wizzair, Sas, AirBaltic, Ryanair, etc. If you are traveling to Europe from the States, choose the cheapest flight to any country and make a change of flights on low cost airlines. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the deals they offer; e.g. It is possible to travel from Spain to Germany for $32 via Ryanair. And it’s not the cheapest deal!
- Sign up for travel cards, watch out for the deals and collect miles. Also look through the list of their member stores – shopping at those stores will give you 2-4 miles for every dollar spent
Save up to 10% on the flight cost paying in unusual currency. Check the latest rates for different currencies. That may sound strange but you can win on the currency rates paying for example in Czech crowns using your $ credit card.
Tip #2 Hitchhike and carpool
Choosing a car as the means of transport for traveling have many positive sides. It is convenient, you can carry lots of baggage and discover great local scenery. To make it cheaper find people traveling to the same destination as you. Hitchhiking is totally free way to explore the world but it may seem dangerous, as you are never sure what’s on driver’s mind. If you are afraid to hitchhike the best solution to hit the road is to share your ride with people traveling the same way. It’s easy to find numerous sites on the net with profiles and offers of drivers.
Tip #3 Accomodation
- Hotels. The earlier you book a hotel the cheaper it will be; the hotel can be even cheaper if you book it at the last moment (today for today); the hotel can make a free upgrade of rooms (standard to comfort one), if you arrive closer to the night
- if you are going to stay for a long time in one place – book private apartments, rooms or houses – Airbnb.com is a perfect service to find really accommodating owners whom you can trust
- If you are traveling by car – consider motels on the outskirts of the city as an option or camping sites (they have all the facilities the hotels have, but they appear to be way more cheaper)
- if you are open to new acquaintances and are not afraid of living with strangers check hostels. Initially designed to host students hostels are gaining popularity thanks to the prices and designs. One might think the hostel will end up as just a regretful experience, but after a good search you will be pretty shocked from the variety of hostels and sometimes exceptional designs they have. So if you ever dreamed to spend a night in a haunted house (in Bangkok) or jumbo jet (in Stockholm), on a tree house (Turkey) or in a castle (Scotland) go ahead and book a room in a hostel!
Tip #4 Volunteer
Have you ever considered helping people for free? Great! You can combine volunteering and traveling as many volunteer organizations can provide you with free accommodation or even flights. If you possess certain skills you may even be paid for like; for example for teaching kids English or babysitting. If you are willing to do some gardening or farming out in the fresh air you may consider WOOFing. Farmers provide you with free rooms, board and sometimes food in exchange for help.
Tip#5 Couch Surf
If you are not still acquainted with this service you certainly should be! It is a global community where people provide shelters to travelers for free. You won’t believe the number of users of this service. The only thing you have to do is to sign up and tell others about yourself. In addition to free room the host can tell you more about their cities and give you some tips on transportation and dining out.
Tip#6 Check last minute deals and bid
There are plenty of websites that operate on a bidding structure like skyauction.com or priceline.com. They work as any typical auction. You simply choose the location(if it is hotel) or destination (if it is a flight) and name your price. The system then chooses the deal for you. You can actually save over 60% on hotels, and 40% on flights and renting cars, but there is always risk of overpaying. Well, no guts, no glory, right? Sign up for last minute deals also. You can save a whole lot, because hotels and airlines are desperately willing to be fully filled up. However, last minute deals work only for people with flexible vacation schedules, as sometimes you will have to fly away the same day you catch the deal.
Tip#7 Sign up for Groupon/Scoopon offers
Groupon, Scoopon or any other local equivalent works good for budget travelers. Companies pay with the discounts to be promoted. Except for discounts for holiday packages you can also look through the restaurant and attraction deals in the city you are heading for. Simply sign up for their promotions and receive daily e-mails with offer. But be picky, pay some time to read carefully the description of the deal and check reviews and evaluations of resorts on other sites like tripadvisor.com or booking.com.
Tip#8 Cook your meals and pregame
You won’t ruin your holiday by cooking yourself, especially doing light breakfasts and making sandwiches for lunches, but you can certainly ruin your budget eating out several times per day. If cooking on vacation is not for you follow the next tips:
- avoid tourist places. Even if the restaurant is great and famous you better find the place in the shadows. As soon as places become attractive for tourists they typically jack up their prices and start cranking out fast food and forsaking the food that made them famous to begin with. If you see the green Trip Advisor sticker run out from there immediately. It doesn’t mean Trip Advisor advises you incorrectly. Rather the problem is that those restaurants becoming extremely popular among the tourists get excessive recognition for a deteriorating product.
- eat local food. You can always eat hamburgers and french fries in your country. So be open to try local food in small local places, rather far from the center of the city
- pregame. If you want to socialize but have a tight budget, buy something to start with in the grocery store and simply end up having a drink in a bar or restaurant. It won’t change the effect, but will save you a lot of money.
Tip#9 Entertain yourself
You are not obliged to see the city from the top of a double-decker bus. Exercise walking all day long, simply watching regular people working or dining out or buying food. Enjoy free walking tours. Volunteers from almost all major cities all over the world will show you the city for free just to practice their English and to make some friends. Browse internet also for free festivals, museums and other attractions in your destination city. Sometimes free attractions appear to be even more intriguing and entertaining that the ones you have to pay for; e.g. Walk alongside art streets in Buenos Aires, be a part of a studio audience of your favorite TV show in LA, visit a bunch of free museums in Washington D.C., step into the French history with the free English language tours to Notre Dame de Paris or haggle in Grand Bazaar in Istanbul which is one of the largest markets in the world.
Tip#10 Watch your money
Pay attention to the exchange rates, check all the rates and prepare money beforehand. Remember, the highest rates are always at the airports and hotels. You can check the forums and blogs first in order to find the best places to exchange the money, because sometimes such places appear to be in very unusual places, e.g the best exchange rate in Sri Lanka is in jeweler’s shops.
Minimize your expenses while booking hotels and renting cars. You can always refuse paying for certain insurances, fees for credit cards, additional services like breakfasts in the hotel, or permission for additional drivers in car rental companies.
Don’t forget to haggle! Haggle always and everywhere! Haggle as soon as you exit your plane. You can actually cut the price twice if you are a good actor, but don’t overplay, salesmen will notice this at once and you will loose your bargain.