The 12 Golden Rules of Affordable Travel in 2016

I thought I’d start the new year with a Travel Confession/Advice post, since so many people have asked me how it is possible to travel “so much” (even though I don’t consider myself travelling that much at all) in 2015 (HAPPY NEW YEAR by the way!). They usually ask about how can we afford such travels, and mistakenly suppose we’ve robbed a bank or something. Truth is, we didn’t rob a bank or win the lottery, merely followed a couple of simple rules to ensure that we have affordable, low-budget vacations/holidays/travels wherever we go. The good news is that YOU CAN TOO! How? By following these simple steps which ensure affordable travel on the long run:

1) Have Time and Energy for Research

I think that this is the most important thing. You should know beforehand, that if you’re on a tight budget you need to work for it! You need time to do your research, to read a lot and browse on the internet for a while until you find the accommodation/flight/train/service that fits your budget.

research

2) Be Flexible

Another important factor is that you can’t just pick a date in the middle of the most popular season and say: oh, I want to go on the 20th of July to the beach and stay a week! I mean, you can, but you can’t expect it to be cheap as well! Peak seasons are most expensive, although great deals do occur even in the most in-demand seasons everywhere. (where to find these deals? jump to nr 3!) When I decide that I want to visit a place, especially when I want to fly in (and not drive), it’s always in the Spring or in Autumn. Flights get even cheaper during winter, but then you might need to compromise because of the weather (depending on the destination), and sitting in the hotel room because it’s raining extensively outside is NOT why you decided to take a trip, right?

3) Subscribe to Flight Deal Sites

What if I told you, there are sites (and even Facebook pages) which do the dirty work for you, and come up with extremely cheap flights, and even Error Fares which are waaaay below the price of a regular flight ticket. Personally I often feel like a hunter, waiting eagerly for the best offer so that I can but the cheapest flight tickets ever. Did I mention I bought round tickets for 2 people from Bucharest to Milan for 8 euros? (Yup, crazy, right?) The catch is, these seats are usually limited, so you’ll have to have money on your card so you can book immediately. The best deals occur usually during December and in the Black Friday season, but there are plenty of offers year-round. The sites I follow religiously are The Flight Deal, Rushflights, Pelikan (for flights from Hungary) and Tedoo Deals (for flights from Romania). Keep in mind that you can find the cheapest flights midweek and not during weekends!

IMG_1674

4) Wait it Out

When I browse for offers, I don’t have only one destination in mind, but quite a few. And even then, I often end up buying for someplace totally different than I initially intended, because it’s for a good price and why not? So you need to consider being patient with offers and flexible with them at the same time. Some great offers take time, and after more than 2 years of “hunting” after a dream destination of mine, Portugal, which could only be reached via a 180+euro return flight from Romania/Hungary, I finally found the perfect tickets, for merely 85 euros for the return flight!  So I think it’s good to have more than 1 destination in mind when you go hunting, and be flexible with your choice, choose the cheapest one!

5)Book Ahead

Don’t hesitate to browse 2-3, even 6 months in advance for your ideal offer. I personally purchased the Portugal tickets 9 months (!) prior to departure, and even since it’s been the best offer for that particular time period.

IMG_1676

6) Rearrange Your Priorities & Don’t be Picky

What I mean by this is, that you should always remember the fact that you’re traveling for the DESTINATION, and not for THE HOTEL (except when you deliberately travel only to stay in that exact hotel, which is a different story). So don’t go around booking luxury apartments and wondering where all your money went. Be smart about booking your accommodation, and always try to find places close to the city center/sightseeing area. Believe me, you’ll spend the 5 dollars you saved by booking a hotel in the periphery of the city in no-time, using it on public transportation!

7) Know where to look for Accommodation

If hotels are your thing, Hotelscombined is just the site you need: comparing various booking sites to each other, offering you the cheapest on the market. Although I don’t usually stay in hostels, I still take a look at what Hostelworld has to offer every time – perfect for a group of friends who want to stay in a room together! My go-to site, however, is without a doubt Airbnb. It offers amazing accommodation at a local’s place, and if you’re lucky you can even get a whole apartment for yourself with your own kitchen and bathroom! You can even take advantage of a head-start, and get a $25 coupon for your first stay with Airbnb by clicking here!

8) Get a Place with a Kitchen

Yeah, I know, you’re not on holiday to cook, right? Too bad, because you can save big bucks by booking a place which comes with a kitchen or a kitchenette. I also prefer eating out when in a new place, but I do enjoy a big breakfast and a huge cup of coffee before I head out. And having a small kitchen which allows me to prepare my own copious breakfast along with a fresh coffee will certainly put me back merely a couple of euros, instead of an expensive Eggs Benedict with an Espresso in a place in the city center.

9) Do Your Research about the Area

After you’ve booked your accommodation and flight tickets, don’t hesitate to read along about best ways of getting around in the area, sights to see, opening times of museums, best restaurants/cafes/pubs/nightclubs/bars, etc. Don’t overdo it, just allow yourself a little sneak-peek!

10) Study the Map

This could save you tons of time once you’re at the destination. By studying the local map and figuring out the most important areas/districts, along with how to get to them easily will go a long way while you’re sightseeing. I know the romantic thing is to just get lost without a map, but believe me, it’s not all that fun after a while.

maps

11) Use Public Transport instead of Renting a Car

We’ve only rented a car once during our travels. It was in Greece, on the day we climbed Mount Olympus, and we didn’t have to pay any insurance fee, nor give them our card number – everything was in plain cash, just how I like to pay on holiday. We always use local public transport, because it can get you almost everywhere (we only rent if the place we want to get to is out of reach to trains and buses). Why? Because you don’t have to pay for local tolls, you don’t have to purchase fuel and nobody will lock a sum on your credit card for “insurance”. It’s much less stressful. But if you do want to get to some places where you can’t by public transport, the next best thing is a scooter and if you just want to stroll around a bicycle is your friend in need.

12) Pack Something for the Road

When you finally get there, and are ready to get out and explore, always take some snacks with you! That way, if you happen to get hungry right in the middle of your sightseeing trip, you can take a few bites of your favorite energy bar to help you get through until you get to a nice restaurant/fast food place with moderately-priced meals!

Now these are merely my own suggestions based on personal experiences, but do contribute and share your own tips!

Have you found this article helpful?

Are you a fan of affordable travel?

PIN this article for later:

pin2

10 Responses to “The 12 Golden Rules of Affordable Travel in 2016

  • Great tips! I didn’t know about Tedoo, now I’m a subscriber! 😀 I got such a lovely apartment on AirBnb in Italy, I’m super excited about it. I always look for places with kitchen when I travel with my parents, we end up saving a lot of money. Sadly, my friends always prefer places that come with (sometimes very pricy) breakfast. 🙁

    I don’t necessarily agree with #6, in some cities (especially the more expensive ones like London, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen) staying near the center will leave you without money for anything else, haha. That’s why I always look for hotels close to a public transportation stop 😉 In Oslo (the most expensive capital, supposedly), we had a lovely hotel for a great price at 20 minutes from the city center. But the tram stopped right next to the hotel, so it wasn’t a problem for us. 😀

    • Thank you for your comment Vlad!
      I know, breakfasts can be so overpriced for what you actually get, right?
      I agree with you disagreeing, since I haven’t really meant one should stay right next to the Eiffel Tower, but within reasonable walking distance or merely a couple of bus/metro/tram stops away, not like we did in Madrid, when we needed to change 2 buses in order to get to the city center, haha 😛 It was a learning experience for sure!

      • Haha, I almost booked a place like that in Rome. Well since in Oslo we had such a great breakfast included in the room price, they wanted breakfast at each hotel we stayed in Scandinavia. We had to pay extra for the one in Helsinki and it was such a huge disappointment! We barely had anything to choose from.

        • I saw some awesome apartments on Airbnb in Rome really cheap, close to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum!
          I guess in Scandinavia a breakfast is OK, since from what I’ve read, food in the supermarket is expensive as well!

  • Great tips, Adri! I am all for being flexible and wait out the best offers. You can’t just pick a date and expect to get the greatest deal! As we mentioned in Instagram, searching regularly for flights is a must 😉

    • Thank you Maria! Yep, searching for great deals is a must for us as budget travelers. But it’s a bit more interesting like this, than if we were millionaires and could buy a ticket to wherever, whenever, right? 😛

  • mikor mentek Portugaliaba? 🙂

  • Great list of tips ! My main problem when we are travelling is that my bf only knows his timetable 3 months in advance.. which makes it difficult if you want to find cheap flights or accommodations sometimes…

    • I know the feeling! We also had this problem.. And consider ourselves very lucky that we currently have jobs which allow planning in advance and also flexibility 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: