So many people dream about escaping the 9-5 and jetting off to paradise, and you may be closer to achieving that than you think. You just need to know how to go about it, learn the tricks of the trade and prepare for the trip of a lifetime.
Step 1 – The journey
Flights are probably the main expense in most trips, my return ticket to Thailand cost me more than 8 days of accommodation and trips all put together. There are a few ways you can avoid hefty prices by being organised and crafty with your searches.
Be an early bird
Book your flights in advance but ensure it’s not too early. The optimum time is supposedly 5 months – 3 weeks before you fly. I recommend getting them in the bag as soon as possible, that way you can pick your seat on the plane and save on last minute charges.
Saturday isn’t always the best day of the week
Make sure you’re travelling on the right day of the week. The cheapest day to fly is a Tuesday or Wednesday, with Monday, Thursday and Sunday sitting pretty in the middle and prices shooting up on social Friday and Saturdays. Sometimes I have seen prices as much as double from a Tuesday to a Saturday despite doing an identical route so try and organise you trip wisely.
Always compare flight prices as different airlines will offer very different deals. Skyscanner is a great tool for this. Bookmark the website and check it often as flight prices change daily! Book your journey when you see the cheapest price or it will be gone the next day.
Take a detour
Booking a non-direct flight is a really good idea. Not only will you possible half the cost of your journey but it’s nice to break up a long flight so you aren’t sat down without moving much for 15 hours or more. You will also get to see even more beautiful locations on route and may even have the opportunity to site see or take a nap during your stopover.
Ask for a top-up
Hydration on long haul flights is very important. Take an empty water bottle on board with you and ask a flight attendant to fill it up during the flight to save you buying countless bottles.
Also remember to pack snacks with you to avoid airport premiums. When I was arriving in the early hours I took a takeaway cup full of instant oats and asked the flight attendant to add hot water, it was really filling and great for energy after hardly any sleep. You can also buy the instant quinoa or noddle pots for a healthy snack during the flight, just add hot water.
Step 2 – Staying at your destination
So you’ve landed in paradise and by this point hopefully you know where you’re staying. Although the idea of walking into a hostel or guest house on a street is idyllic and often cheap after a long flight you should have somewhere booked.
Don’t be homeless
Travellers have been known to leave it too last minute and end up sleeping on the beach – it may sound nice, the reality isn’t so much.
You can get some great last minute deals through websites like lastminute.com and get some bargains when you book a few days/the day before arrival however Airbnb almost always beats your average guest house price and sometimes you can end up in a beach-side villa! When splitting the bill with your travel buddies you can really get some great accommodation so it’s always worth a look on there. If you’re travelling alone and planning on staying in a room of someone’s house just read the reviews and make sure they’re nice hosts.
Keep it local
From there on I would recommend looking on trip advisor for accommodation in the area when you get an idea of where you’re moving next and booking over the phone or online a couple of days before then you can pay in the local currency when you arrive and save a ton compared to booking at home.
Alternatively the cheapest way to get around is overnight travel. You might not catch as many zzz’s but you will be affectively getting a free bed for the night and will wake up in your next destination!
Step 3 – Getting around on your adventure
Travelling means seeing some amazing sites and gorgeous spots of the planet incomparable to anything you’ve seen at home but to see everything means lots of moving about and all the journeys can add up.
Discover the unknown
Travelling to lesser known places means not only will they be much cheaper to see and stay at but they won’t be flooded with tourists with cameras, they will wow your friends at home more because you will be getting a real taste of a country that isn’t what backpackers typically see and you will find some absolutely stunning untouched locations. I experienced this when I visited Kaoh Sok National Park in Thailand.
Our group had almost every floating bungalow booked out and for the most part we were alone on the lake so we had the freedom to jump in a kyak or splash around as much as we wanted. Yes, the journey to the remote locations may take you off the beaten track but sharing the cost of a taxi or minibus ends up costing minimal amounts in your home currency.
Get there first
This tip doesn’t just go for lesser known sites and attractions but also countries. People always tell me Vietnam is Thailand but 30 years ago before the tourists found it. And for that reason it’s so much cheaper to eat, travel and site see over there. You have all the time in the world to see New York or Paris, they were discovered and had their price tags increased years ago but get to the undiscovered wanders like Ha Long Bay before everyone else does.
Don’t be too organised
Don’t book all your onward journeys at home before your trip, you never know when you could fall in love with somewhere and want to stay longer, plus paying in the local currency almost always beats paying in advance from home. Unless you’re going somewhere where the exchange rates mean you lose out on some money.
Mix and match
Mix it up. Don’t just fly everywhere or get a taxi, look into your cheapest option. Often I would take a car, train, boat and plane just to get from A to B. This not only took the price down compared to direct transport but it meant I could stop off and see more of the country I was travelling round. In some countries you can buy a ticket for a train that you can hop on and off any time, any day and anywhere you like.
Step 4 – spending whilst you’re there
Keeping an eye on your spending whilst you’re away can often be tricky. If you’re away for a short trip and can afford to then go wild, I hate the cliché but you really do only live once. If you are away long term then it’s time to get budgeting.
There are Apps to help you budget such as Personal Capital’s Financial Tools. Alternatively you can set yourself a budget and withdraw the cash you will need for that week only and carry it with you without spending over that amount. This is less secure but means you can visualise exactly how much you’re going through.
Get an overseas bank account or international credit card – do a comparison and get the best rates. I recommend the Halifax Clarity for 0% interest on purchased anywhere in the world and very minimal charges for cash withdrawals. Set up a direct debit before departing so it will be paid off automatically and won’t charge accumulate interest whilst you’re gone.
Use TopCahsback or similar sites to gain rewards on your flight bookings, you never know what you could save money on. If you’re booking a lot of journeys don’t forget to collect air miles and you could gain a free flight or two!
Talk to people everywhere you go. You never know who you could meet or who could have a beach side villa that they’re renting out! You may even pick up some new travel buddies who are going somewhere dreamy that’s on your bucket list and you can tag along. Sharing the cost of taxis, accommodation and other costs makes life much more affordable.
Thank you Personal Capital for inspiring this post.
You will never regret the money you spend travelling and it will buy you memories that will last for a lifetime but making your pennies last means you will get to see more of the amazing world we live in so travel smart.
Do you have any budget travel tips? Where was your last adventure?