I want to go everywhere. Chances are, if you’re reading this then you do too. For me, travel comes right after paying the bills and there’s very little exception to this. As you know, I don’t have a well paying job, I haven’t won the lottery (yet) and I haven’t found some crazy way to make loads of money online. All I do is budget so I can still go abroad as much as I can!
In the last few years I have spent my time travelling round the world and then visiting a number of cities in Europe, so I know how much money can rack up before you’ve even made it to lunch time. Having breakfast, getting here, getting in that place, snacking on this blah blah blah. Before you know it, you’re up shit creek and no one’s going to bail you out with a wedge of cash.
So, I am going to share with you some tips on how to never blow your budget ANYWHERE YOU GO! I genuinely use each of these to help budget for all my trips, so these are tried and tested and dead simple!
PRE-PLAN AND SPREAD THE COST
This can really help take the strain of having to chuck all your money into your trip in one go and leaving you with nothing until pay day. If you know you want to go somewhere in a few months time, buy the flights, the book the hotel then anything else you need like visas or excursions you want to do. I did exactly this with my trip to Iceland in January this year and it helped me big time, especially with Christmas around that time.
Booking flights and accommodation in advance should mean more availability, and hopefully more bargains. If you are planning to do any excursions, contact the company you want to go with directly. Again, with Iceland I knew I wanted to go on the Northern Lights Tour and the Golden Circle Tour with SuperJeep, so I contacted them and got a discount for booking both. Winner!
Obviously, not everything can be booked in advance. I knew that when I was travelling I was going to do a skydive in either Australia or New Zealand but I didn’t know where or when. But if you have something like this that you really want to do, then you can budget around it. Chances are something will need to be cut back somewhere else but you would have done something that you wouldn’t normally have done!
STAY IN THE RIGHT AREA
This all depends on what type of accommodation you want to stay in and what you want to do. In general, it is cheaper to stay a bit out of town but this of course means factoring in travel costs to get back in. Ahh the good ole’ travel balancing act! It’s left me going round in circles many a time. Don’t book somewhere just because it’s mind-blowingly cheap – there will be a reason why! Location is everything especially when you’re only there for a short amount of time. I find that by doing the following you can end up with a place to stay that’s the best of both worlds:
- Choose the type of place you want to stay in – I look at AirBnB, a hotel comparison site like Hotels.com, and hostels on Hostelworld. You can filter these sites by price and reviews so you get an idea of what you’re getting for your money. Find a happy medium for you.
- Look at the location. I have found that looking at Google Maps and a tourist map online with sites marked on to be the best way to judge a location. Also, look for nearby transport stops and how long each journey will take you. Within reason, this is just a bed. Be honest, you’re going to be out and about most of the time! For me, as long as it’s clean, quietish and not in a dodgey area, I’m happy.
- Find somewhere that has Breakfast included. As nice as it is to eat out for Breakfast, getting hangry is not the best start to the day, so and included breakfast is always handy.
- Search for somewhere that’s out of town but within walking distance. I say this but I feel that I’m happy to walk further than is reasonable for most. When I was backpacking I used to be happy to walk for over an hour to get to where I wanted to be. But this probably (ok definitely) isn’t realistic if you’re on a quick visit with loads of stuff to tick off your list. HOWEVER, a mile out of town is not far! It’s no more than a 20 minute walk. So don’t be put off by the distance.
DO A FREE WALKING TOUR
I cannot shout enough about how much I love a free walking tourGet on the Free walking Tour! They are AMAZING and you can find one almost anywhere. Sandemans are fantastic and always hosted by a local or someone who has moved there. They are free but the guys and girls who do the tours rely on tips as they do not get paid any other way. BUT I am yet to go on a bad one, so it’s always worth it. It also gives you the perfect chance to pick their brains to find out where the cheap eats, drinks and general tips for your stay. It’s a good way to get to know your way around more (unless you’re like me and have no sense of direction) so I would recommend doing these on the day you arrive.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
It can seem a bit like you’re fighting a loosing battle when you’re in a new place and you’re looking at transport maps just thinking ‘WTF?!’, BUT it’s so worth having a go! There is no way that using a private taxi is ever the cheapest way to get around. A good place to start is going to your hotel/hostel website where they often say how to get there from airports or main train stations and how to get to main attractions. Also, have a look at the local tourist board’s site for information for tourists. You will find information about ticket pries here too so you can work out what type of ticket is best. Usually tickets that are valid for multiple days are cheaper than buying a bunch of day tickets.
One thing that I have noticed increasingly is that you have to careful when you use tickets. In Prague there are plain-clothed ‘inspectors’ who will frog-march you off the train if you haven’t managed to validate your ticket. These guys are not officials but there is no way you will get out of paying it, and it can be HEFTY. Berlin also has a similar set-up to this, so make sure you know how to use public transport properly or it can really cost you!
TRY YOUR LUCK
So this is a bit general, but it generally falls around the ‘if you don’t ask you won’t get’ moto. Or at least if you don’t drop a hint then you won’t get. If you’re away for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, let your accommodation know. I know soooo many people who have done this and they often get something thrown in. It has ranged from a free box of chocolates up to room upgrades. So why not!
GET COOKING AND GET PRE-DRINKING!
As nice as eating and drinking out all night long is, depending where you are, it can become a quick way to blow your budget. Or, if you have already blown your budget, then eating out is the easiest thing to cut out. Shopping in super markets is the cheapest way to go and if you buy dry foods like pasta (yes, surprise surprise) it will sort you out for a few meals. Look out for deals on booze and just put up with having to lug it back to where ever you’re staying.
These tips are easy changes to make to the way you travel without having to sacrifice experiences. I use these EVERY time I go away and it helps keep my budget on track. If you have any other tips and tricks you use I would love to hear about them!