Ok so if you have clicked on the link to read this blog, you are probably one of the many people I have encountered in my life that asks me “are you rich?” or “how does your job let you travel so much?” or (and this one really annoys me) “how do you have the money to do this, do you have a sugar daddy?”
The short answer is no. I have always had to work, definitely wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. In fact, I grew up in what is considered the most deprived area of England, to a single mother. As I got older the jobs I had wasn’t particularly special either, still had the standard of 28 days holiday a year, like most people. So, to be honest I’m sitting here wondering how I manage as well.
I am so grateful to have had so many nice experiences and adventures at only 20 years old, but I wouldn’t say I’m lucky. Travelling is my absolute passion and you care about something that much, you have to make sacrifices. I’ve worked hard to be able to afford these trips and I’ve had to compromise on other things (for example, I still don’t drive, and I know that both learners and drivers will agree that driving is one of the most expensive things out there).
So no more messing about, let me just write what was it was you actually came for.
- Budget airlines are your best friends
If you want to start colouring in your scratch map but you’re on a budget, then don’t be choosy. Have the RyanAir and EasyJet apps downloaded on your phone and sign up to their regular updates. They will email you letting you know when they have their seat sales (I have managed to go to Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark and Italy for like £9,99 return because of this). Be flexible with your dates (leaving on a Tuesday or a Saturday tend to be the cheapest in my experience) and you can most likely get a weekend city break in Europe for twenty quid.
Side Rant: When you think about it logically, your taxi ride from the club to your house on a Friday night will likely cost more than your flight to Rome. People that tell me they want to travel with me but can’t afford it are usually the same people I see heading out to the same shitty club, to see the same shitty strangers to listen to the same shitty music Every. Damn. Weekend. If you want to go on a break, just ditch the nights out for like a month and I guarantee you that all the money you would’ve spent on drink, entry and a taxi home will accumulate to a full-blown holiday somewhere nice. As I said, compromise.
People always talk badly about budget airlines, but you do get what you pay for. If you want to have maximised savings on your flight, don’t pay extra for priority boarding (you’re going to get on the plane eventually anyway), don’t pay extra for a massive suitcase (learn to pack light) and don’t pay extra to sit with your friends (most European flights don’t take longer than 2 hours so I’m sure you will survive).
2. Apps are there to help you get good deals
If you’re planning on venturing out a bit further, then use apps to your advantage. Skyscanner will pull all the prices of different flights sold on different websites and rank them from the cheapest or the most convenient. If you’re unsure on where to go, Skyscanner gives you the option to just type in ‘Everywhere’ and it will show you the destinations that are the cheapest at the time you wish to travel. To save more money, look at indirect flight options rather than direct. If you could have a long stay over in a different city – that works too as you would have enough time to leave the airport and explore somewhere else. Another app that is amazing is Hopper. It is a lot like Skyscanner except it actually predicts for you when is the best time to buy a flight and will notify you when they think the flight is about to increase in price.
3. Hostels and Air Bnbs are the way forward
Other than if I am on a family vacation, it is rare now that I will be staying in a hotel. Hostels are cheap, normally full of young people with loads of activities to do and they are a great experience. For example, my hostel in Berlin cost £8 a night, and it had facilities such as a tennis court, sauna and morning yoga classes, as well as pub crawls in the evening, where we ended up partying with a bunch of Australians into the early hours of the morning. You normally have to share a dorm room with a few other people and share toilets/showers, but if you have a good bunch of people then it is the perfect set up. If you don’t fancy doing that then you can always upgrade to a private room.
Airbnbs are a good option as well. You can rent out whole apartments/houses or just rent a room for a fraction of the price that a hotel would be and to be honest they are way closer into the city than a hotel would be anyway. The airbnb charges per night rather than per person, so you can get more bang for your buck by renting an air bnb with a couple of friends. I have stayed in some really modern, stylish apartments in Milan, Bucharest and Prague for literally £15 a night because of Airbnb and they have just been a stone throw away from the all the citie’s highlights. They also have some really interesting properties, for example, you could stay on a boat, treehouse or beach house.
4. You don’t have to be boujee with food
I don’t personally do this but I thought I would throw it in the mix anyway. If you have decided to stay in a hostel or an Airbnb, you will notice that both options typically have a kitchen and dining area. If you are staying an expensive city (like London where salads are like £20), then there’s no reason why you can’t go to a local supermarket and cook a couple of meals back at your room. You’re on vacation so you probably want to go out and try the local cuisine in nice restaurants, which is perfectly fine, but at least you have the option to be stingy.
5. Use public transport instead of flying
If you want to visit multiple cities in one trip, especially around Europe, then I really do recommend looking at buses and train rather than just flying everywhere. Even with the budget airlines, the prices are hard to match. Flixbus is my favourite bus company in Europe and I’ve never had a bad experience with them. You can get to one country to another for as low as £4. They may take longer (like the overnight 15-hour ride from Barcelona to Paris), but you meet people along the way and it’s not that bad. I ended up making friends with a German girl that I then ended up going out to bars with in France. Flixbus also have a pass you can buy which is 5 countries for £99, which is an absolute steal. They have branched out over to the States now, but I would only really recommend taking the buses in Europe. Trains are also a good option, Eurostar has good deals from London to Paris and Brussels but you can look at all the options on goeuro.
So there you have it, this is how I mainly do my travelling around, and although it may not look or sound as glamorous as the gram makes it seem, I have had some of the best memories doing it this way. I have met a lot of people and became way more mature and independent. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to do it properly and with certain trips, I would rather save the extra money to do it all properly but I’m just saying it doesn’t have to be as expensive as people make it out to be. I would hands down rather have the extra cash to be able to do all of the nice activities and excursions whilst I was in that destination rather than focusing on having business class flights and an all-inclusive hotel.