If you’re like me, exam studying comes with a side of daydreaming about summer. I cannot wait to recycle all of my notes, pack up my suitcase, and get on the road. But as much as I would love to jet off to the other side of the world the second my prof says “pencils down,” my budget won’t allow it. If I want to travel this summer, it’s necessary that I find ways to do it for less.
So whether you’re going overseas or to the nearest national park, these tips will help you make the most of the summer sun and your dollars.
I fell in love with travel through my family holidays, when my Dad planned intricate European trips and printed out detailed itineraries. (I swear he thinks he’s Rick Steves.) He gave me one simple tip that helped me plan my solo travels in Europe — spend more time than money.
Spending money is an inevitable part of travel, but everyday it’s becoming cheaper to travel as the demand for affordable accomodation and flights is higher than ever before. In Europe, budget flights can cost as little as $15. The budget airlines charge added baggage fees and try to sell products nonstop during the flight, but other than that, budget airlines aren’t much different from WestJet or Air Canada. As for accommodations and food, if you’re willing to spend time looking for deals and settle for less than posh conditions, it’s totally possible to travel on $50 a day or less.
The easiest way to minimize these costs is to spend more time doing things that are free, like going to museums and scoping out street art. Local blogs and Facebook event pages are awesome for finding free things to do in any city. You can spend plenty of time at a free museum, which will result in you automatically spending less money elsewhere without even trying.
I always go for a walk or run on the first morning in a new city. Getting lost while running is a great way to accidentally get fit and explore new areas that might be off the beaten tourist path. But before going out in any city, do yourself a favour and download the offline map on Google Maps. It’s a simple thing, but it saved me so many times, especially when I was travelling in areas where language would have been a barrier.
Eating on a budget
Food will quickly eat up your budget, so skip the restaurants and instead eat picnic-style everywhere. Scope out a beach or scenic park, grab some basics from a market, and attempt to get a tan. Grocery stores and markets always have the cheapest food and give travellers the best array of local food — wandering down the aisles will be a cultural experience in and of itself.
Cheapest way to travel
The cheapest way to travel anywhere is by bus or train, and sleeping on a night bus is a backpackers’ rite of passage. On my first night bus, I slept beside a guy that had two things in his carry-on bag — a two litre bottle of coke and a six pack of bagels. It was definitely not an ideal night and I hardly slept, but the bus got me from London to Paris for $40.
When a budget airline says they are flying to a major city, chances are they’re actually flying into a smaller suburb nearby. The airport “Paris Beauvais” is actually an hour and a half outside of Paris. The airport “Milan Bergamo” is an hour and a half outside of Milan. The budget airlines also fly early in the morning, which means public transport might not be able to take you to your intended destination. I didn’t realize how far Beauvais airport was until the night before my flight, the cab and shuttle to the airport wound up costing me $50. So, save yourself the hassle and look up the airport’s location and how to get there long before take off.
All you need…
When I first started travelling, I would nervously hug my bag everywhere I went and quadruple check my itinerary details. The fact is, you could read articles like this for hours on end, but you’ll never be fully prepared for the unexpected challenges that inevitably come up abroad. If you’re nervous and need a sign to book that flight to your dream place — this is it.
Just know that as long as you pack your passport and wallet, you’re good to go.
Blogs to check out:
KateKorte.com – My blog focuses specifically on student travel, I help students travel during their degree and offer my personal tips for travel on a student budget.
Wheresmollie.com – Mollie works hard on her blog and travel business and it shows, her posts are thorough and personal. She also offers small group trips for young travellers.
StudyHardTravelSmart.com – Katie has the most thorough student travel blog I’ve found and I use her blog as a resource often.
RhiannonTravels.com – Rhiannon is an aussie blogger keen to help first time travellers.
ScottsCheapFlights and Chris Myden’s YVRDeals—these are my favourite sites for flight deals; the owners scavenge the internet for the best deals. I booked a $540 return flight from Vancouver to Bangkok, Thailand on Chris Myden’s site!
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