Woah what, it’s April?
That means a couple of months have passed since the Chinese New Year holidays. By now, you might be finding yourself caught in a routine and in need of a break. But with flight tickets, accommodation and the myriad other travel expenses, who can afford it?
Don't cry just yet!
Well, thankfully, we have some serious wanderlusters in the Twenty3 office and they’re super eager to share their best advice on how to save your hard-earned cash when travelling.
Here are six ways you can make the most of your big break, without breaking the bank!
1. Do Your Research
Before the fun and relaxation begins, a little research is necessary to ensure you’re not spending more than you need to.
Given that flights can take up the biggest chunk of your travel expenses, finding cheap tickets can make all the difference! Start with noting down when low and peak seasons are. For example, during the summer months in Europe, it is possible you’ll pay up to double the price for flight tickets! Some of our favourite tools to find the best deals are GoogleFlights, Skyscanner and the lesser known Skypicker, which searches through budget and major airlines to come up with ‘unofficial’ routes that are often a lot cheaper. Don’t forget to also sign up for price alerts to be notified when prices drop!
Another big slice of the pie is accommodation. Websites like Agoda and Booking.com are great when looking for the best hotel rates, but if you’re up for a little adventure, try HostelWorld for well, hostels, Airbnb for local homes and apartments, and Couchsurfing for absolutely free hospitality with a friendly local (it doesn’t always have to be a couch even)!
Once you’ve got the big two spenders out of the way, make a rough estimate of how much other expenses such as food, transport and activities will be. For overviews, check websites like Wikitravel and Budget Your Trip, which provides costs estimated from the budgets of other travellers.
For more reliable information on specific cities and tried-and-tested tips, try consulting travel bloggers. These people know what they are talking about and offer first-person experiences and lessons learned from their many years of roaming the world. Some of our favourites are World of Wanderlust, Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate and Bren on the Road.
At the end of your research journey, give yourself a realistic budget to stick to. This way, you won’t spend more than you intend to.
2. Only Use Your Credit Card When Needed
To stick to your budget, it would be wise to pay for flights and accommodation beforehand and use cash or a prepaid card when you arrive. To ensure your money stays safe in the midst of all the fun and adventures, remember to keep them in separate and secure places, such as hidden in an old lip balm tube or in your dried out marker.
Do bring your credit card with you in case of emergencies, but leave it locked somewhere safe. Not only can they round up high transaction fees without you knowing, it is possible you will spend more with it by your side. Why? Because, you know, there’s the option of having more to spend!
If there’s something you really want to do but costs a lot, go ahead and do it! There’s no point going all the way to New Zealand with skydiving being on your bucket list and backing out just because it’s expensive. Some experiences are worth splurging on! There could even be great deals hidden somewhere you just have to do a little digging for. Websites such as Bookme, specific for Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, or more internationally, Groupon, would have deals on various activities, including skydiving! If you’re into theatre, TimeOut and Lastminute offers last minute tickets at discounted rates for London West End shows.
4. Look For Free Things To Do
Like they say, the best things in life are free! Whether it's getting lost in the laneways of an unfamiliar city or attending a public concert with local performers you hadn’t heard of before, most places will have an abundance of free and fun activities for you thrifty travellers. For example, Free Tours by Foot offers pay-as-you-wish (or don’t-pay-as-you-wish) walking, food, bike and bus tours of American and European cities, from New York to London.
5. Do What The Locals Do
To avoid falling into tourist traps, do what the locals do! Stay at local homes you can find on services like Airbnb and Couchsurfing instead of hotels, walk, bike or take public transport instead of tour buses and taxis, eat at local restaurants instead of tourist-targeted establishments with hiked-up prices and, usually, less authentic and tasty food.
Not only will these keep you from being seriously overcharged, they will give you a fuller experience of the place you’re visiting!
6. Forget Shopping for Souvenirs
There’s a wise saying that we should collect experiences, not things. But sometimes, we need more than just photos and fuzzy memories to remember our holiday by.
Instead of settling for generic snow globes and keychains, try collecting items of significance along the way. For example, a business card from some cool café you stumbled upon in a back alleyway, a pretty ribbon from a bag of cookies you bought in a famous bakery, or even a leaf that’s fallen onto the street you were staying on.
These items will mean much more and best of all, they are completely free!
If a holiday’s been on your mind for a while, the ‘right’ time to make it happen is now.
Do you have other ways of cutting expenses when travelling? Pray, do share with us!