I have had a few people ask me how I manage to afford to travel whilst living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Let me tell you, it is not easy and by no means always glamorous. I have spent uncomfortable nights on sleeper buses without a shower for more than 24 hours and have spent 8 hours on a flight without purchasing any meals or drinks. But I made it work just so I can go where I wanted to.
I’ve got a better job now and way better salary but even when I first started out at work, right at the bottom of the ladder, I refused to let that stop me to explore. I am going to start off with a few tips on how you can save up to travel, I promise this is not rocket science and anyone can do it. Then I’ll give a few points on what I consider when booking a holiday, in order to make sure it is as affordable as possible.
Some tips to save for travelling:
- Make your own lunch – do your food shopping on the weekend and meal prep for the week so that you have lunch to take in with you to work. In london a meal costs £5 on average, which means in one month you would have saved roughly £100 ( minus your food shop)
- Cut down on alcohol and stick to happy hours at Simmon’s where you get a gin and tonic for £2.50 instead of the usual £6
- Budget your expenses each month. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. So plan your expenses each month and stick to it. I find it easiest just having an excel sheet that I fill out and if you can’t afford that meal out with friends, then politely turn it down. You won’t regret it while you’re soaking up the sun on the other side of the world.
- Get a British Airways American Express Card. If you are going to spend money, you might as well get avios points for it which you can later use to redeem flights, however, make sure you keep an eye on those expenses 😉
- Sell unwanted items. If like me, you probably have a lot of clothes or shoes that you have worn once and then forgotten about, get yourself on ebay, Amazon or facebook and sell it off. It will all add up to something, maybe enough to get yourself a short haul flight.
- Save for your flight first and then book it. This is what usually gets really expensive if you wait. Once your flights are booked you can start saving for the rest.
It is also worth noting that for the first two years of my working life all my savings were spent to travel, I made the decision that I wanted to live my life now instead of saving for the future. That mindset hasn’t changed too much but I have started saving (celebratory dance). Now time to give you some of the travel hacks I have learnt along the way that could help you save on your trip.
Budget Travel Tips:
- Book your flights on Skyscanner or Momondo and delete your cookies. These sites always increase their prices if you’ve searched for that route and date before. These sites both use travel agents as well as the airline directly. Sometimes travel agents do give a much cheaper option, make sure you check the reviews of these agents before booking however they are legit. They will be much cheaper but probably lacking in customer service if you want to for example change your flight details etc.
- Book your flight during the week, Tuesday’s are usually the cheapest day. I also found out from a travel analyst that prices do tend to go up when the weather is bad in England, so book a flight on a sunny day.
- Use either booking.com or Airbnb for accomodation. And if you use booking.com make sure you enter via the cashback site – quidco. This site lets you earn cashback on purchases from certain sites and retailers. Make sure you check the reviews on Airbnb before booking to avoid being tricked or disappointed.
- If you are going for a short trip, stick to hand luggage and save on checking luggage in. You can do it! Buy a few 100ml bottles that you can fill with your toiletries ( my main issue is my hair products) and wear your comfy shoes. I have done many 4-5 day trips with just hand luggage or a big backpack, it is also less hassle! If you really can’t live without 2-3 outfit options, then think about sharing check in luggage with your friend.
- If you are flying with a budget friendly airlines like Norwegian airline, save by not adding any meals and bring your own meal on the plane instead. Most of the time you spend in the air will be sleeping or watching movies, so save yourself the calories and mula.
- Choose public transportation when travelling within your destination. Make sure you check first that this is safe, but in many countries it is and straightforward to use, especially around Europe and Asia and it also means you’ll not get ripped off as much.
- Uber Everywhere. If getting a taxi is the best option, then check if Uber is available. In the USA, using an Uber is so much more cheaper than normal taxi’s!
- Eat like a local. There are always going to be tourist traps everywhere you go and food is a big one. Avoid eating around any tourist attractions and instead ask locals where they usually eat. This way you get to really taste the cuisine and experience the true culture of your destination. Street food is always a good one to try too, especially in southeast Asia.
Let me know if you have any other questions but for now, it’s time to start saving for your next trip..