It’s no secret that travelling can be costly. Especially if you’re planning a fancy holiday to a hot destination, you might need to start saving up way ahead of that date and be prepared for lots of cash to flow together with your tears. If your main objective is exploring though, with no high standards and just a will to see what’s out there, I’m happy to inform you that you can easily do that in a number of ways, which we’re going to talk about very soon in this blog post.
When travelling, your main financial issues are three: transportation, accommodation, nutrition. How to get there, how to live there, how to survive there. Just like anywhere else in the world – easy peasy. So let’s start with the first bullet point in our list, which is transportation.
What does that mean?
Transportation includes getting to your destination and moving around and, fortunately for you, there are multiple ways to do that cheaply. So let’s get into it.
If you’re planning to fly or if you’d like to book a holiday but aren’t sure where, Skyscanner will be your best friend. This website allows you to not only look up for flights, but to filter them in very unique ways. Firstly, if you’re unsure or where to go, or would like to just unplug for a while but not spend too much, Skyscanner has the amazing ‘anywhere’ option. This means that, when looking up flights from a specific destination, the website will either make you select an arrival destination or let you select the ‘anywhere’ option, which will then show you the cheapest flights you can get, to any destination, from your specific point of departure. Pretty amazing right?
Secondly, you can also either choose a specific date or be broader, in order to be able to select the cheapest day possible to fly. Indeed, instead of selecting a date, the website allows users to either choose a whole month to travel, or ‘the cheapest month’, which will lead to the cheapest flights in a selected time of the year (in the case of Europe, these seems to be January, June and November most of the time).
If you’re travelling in Europe, Flixbus will be your best friend. Although planes can be faster and save up time, buses arguably have some distinctive advantages that can turn them into your means of choice. Aside from usually being cheaper, they also offer a proper look at the country you are visiting, rather than a plane which takes you up in the sky where hardly anything is visible. Secondly, if sleeping is easy for you, a longer bus journey can actually help you rest and pick up strength before starting your new adventure, as well as helping you save up on accommodation if travelling overnight. Flixbus definitely wins the medal in this field, offering trips across the whole Europe at very cheap prices – and a 10% discount for students sporting an EIC card.
Although Flixbus is only available in Europe, similar alternatives can be found elsewhere. In the UK for example, Megabus and National Express provide likewise services, whilst outside the continent buses are becoming a growing alternative to traditional means of travel. On a side note, you can read about my Flixbus misadventure here.
Not a fan of busy buses with barely any space to breathe or move? Then bla bla car is the choice for you. Developed as a way to increase collaborative mobility, this service allows you to hop onto someone’s car with a similar destination to yours. By simply signing up to the website, you can look up rides which go from your location to where you need to be, often at a fraction of the price compared to a train ride.
This service is cool because you can actually look up who is going to be driving the car, who will often have reviews from other users who have travelled with them before. For people scared of driving with strangers, this can ease out the worries by providing some sort of reference to who you will actually be travelling with. The website also allows you to write a bit about yourself and – most importantly – select whether you’re a ‘bla’, ‘bla bla’ or ‘bla bla bla’ kind of person, meaning how much you like to talk during your rides. This can help you choose someone that won’t hammer you with constant conversation for the whole trip, or will keep you away from creepy drivers who don’t speak a single word the whole way.
Would it be a complete traveller-on-a-budget checklist without the inclusion of good old hitch-hiking? Present since the dawn of popular cars, hitch-hiking is by far the most budget-friendly means of transportation: it’s FREE. Simply pick up some cardboard and a pen, write down your destination and hit up the road with a smile on your face, and be prepared to wait for some time as rides can take hours to show up sometimes. When they do though, it’s totally worth it!
Although sometimes tiring and definitely not the fastest means of travel, this form of travelling can be extremely cool as you get to meet tons of people on your way, who will happily share some stories while enjoying your company for the length of the ride. To really make the most of the experience, I always suggest bringing something – even as small as a pack of cookies – to share with your driver in shining armour, so that you can repay the favour even a little bit by offering them a sweet treat. Also, take a look at who offers you a lift before accepting – hitch-hiking with strangers comes indeed at the cost of safety and therefore you must always be sure that you are in control of the situation.
Definitely not for the faint hearted with distant destinations, bikes can also be a very budget-friendly choice when visiting a new place. If the weather allows it, why not rent a bike instead of using public transport, and move through the city with that instead? This will allow you a) to live the city more deeply rather than moving with the metro or the bus, b) be more environmentally friendly and c) have the freedom to move wherever you want and whenever you want, without the limitations of transport schedules or routes. Also, riding a bike is really really cool and it gives you the opportunity to workout even while travelling. What’s not to like?
The bike can either be yours or, especially in places like the Netherlands, Denmark but increasingly anywhere, you can easily rent one out for the length of your trip, or even use apps such as MOBIKE to be able to take it and leave completely hassle free. By signing up to the service, the app will indeed allow you to access a map of all available bikes in the area, which you will be able to unlock automatically through the app, and lock again once you’re done with it, with all expenses – which are very slim – going directly to your selected method of payment. It can’t get easier than that.
If travelling long way destinations, cycling can also be an option – albeit perhaps in the warmer months or with some heavy-duty clothing to protect you from colder temperatures. I have met loads of travellers who opted for this means of transport and, especially if you don’t have strict timeframes for your trip, it’s a nice way to live the country more fully by letting you stop in the most random places ever when you’re needing a break!
Pretty random, right? I found out about this when I was living in the Netherlands, and the price of return 1-hour ride to Amsterdam was over €30. How about no. I was convinced I’d only be able to visit when I had enough money to actually reach the place, until some local friends advised me to look for Facebook travelling groups. Basically, numerous groups existed on Facebook to organise ‘group travels’ around the Netherlands, at a fraction of the price. Whereas a single ticket was ridiculously expensive, group tickets for around 10 people came up to a sum that, divided per all participants, was much lower than the original one. Although this method only applies to countries which actually offer schemes like this, it doesn’t hurt to try and find out in your nearby area. If present, this will save you lots of bucks while still travelling in stylish trains across the region.
So there you have them, my best tricks to move around without having to spend your entire paycheck on it. Also, as an extra tip, be sure to check out VISA COSTS to wherever you are going and perhaps try to go to places where they are not so high (or non-existent) if you wish to cut down your expenses there too. Also, if you have any more advice, feel free to let us all know in the comments below! ❤
With that said, watch out next week for my tips on saving up on accommodation, followed by feeding your belly while on the road.
Until next time,
I wish you all an amazing day