Three tips for the starting (budget)traveller!
Updated: Nov 9, 2019
We travel cheap! But we aren't always budgettravellers. Sometimes we like to splurge too ... with the next saving tips so can you!
We don't have a big bankaccount nor do we get all of our trips sponsored ... still we manage to travel a lot. From all of the questions I get , 'where does the money come from' is asked most often.
Travel is for everyone
From all of the questions I get, 'where does the money come from' is asked most often.
People often think they need a big bankaccount to travel, but actually just a few little tips can make an enormous difference.
Accomodation can be the biggest cost of your holiday but also the smallest. The secret lies in the choices you make.
First of all you need to determine what you expect from your accomodation. How much are you planning on using it? Just to sleep? Or to relax at the place itself?
We only use more expensive accomodations if we are staying mostly in the resort and hardly ever for longer than a couple of days.
Simple principle: we rather don't pay for stuff we don't use.
Since we are mostly travelling to explore we stay in (very) cheap places.
From time to time we do stay in a luxurious place for about 3 nights, preferably in the beginning of our trip, just to unwind and get fit to explore.
2. Be flexible
We are often imprisoned to travel during the busiest and most expensive season.
Time is money or so they say. But when it comes to travelling, nothing is more real. With kids in school we are often imprisoned to travel during the busiest and most expensive season; something we see as bad value for money.
But what to do about it?
First of all, determine what you want to do! Do you want to go to Thailand to enjoy the beaches and savor yourself on the delicious food or do you want to explore the jungle, inland and mountains? Are you going to France to visit Paris with his musea and culture or are you planning on strolling Brigitte Bardot style on the Côte d' Azur?
You can see me coming ... not every type of vacation needs sunny warm weather. When your choice of vacation doesn't require a specific kind of weather or season, things are already much easier. You can simply search for the cheapest dates.
But from time to time you cannot be flexible regarding season. For example: nobody can take a skibreak in the Alps during the high of summer.
So when it comes to these holidays during schoolbreaks, try to leave slightly earlier or stay slightly longer. This often makes so much difference.
Be honest and friendly with the school, explain your situation. Keep in mind they will never approve but it is only nice to let them know in advance. If you want to keep your kid out of school for a longer period of time there are solutions (for readers living in Belgium: check https://onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/nl/hoe-organiseer-ik-huisonderwijs).
A couple of days never is a problem and doesn't ask for special measurements.
Great tip when it comes to skiing or a citytrip is to search for non-official long weekends (every school has days off different from other school) or just create one yourself, leave on Thursday early morning for three full days of city-tripping or skiing and come back on Sunday. That way you might even manage to go on holiday more often than you are used to and feel more relaxed during the year.
Also try to be flexible regarding destinations. Make sure you have some options in mind when searching for a holiday and take the cheapest option. Especially if you travel for recreation you 'll be happier when you are paying less.
Also remember: the less you spend on your accomodation and transportation the more money you have left to do the epic stuff (horsebackriding, catamaran sailing, ziplining, a private mountainguide, hot air balloon ride, ...)
When talking transportation most people just think car/plane/train. Yet there are some in-between options too and even in the basic ways of transportation we can save money.
Again it is important to consider in advance what your holiday will be about. If you are planning a roadtrip somewhere within 2000 kilometres it is advisable to take your car with you. You are used to it, you won't need to put down money for expensive insurance (double paid, since you also have a car at home), you don't have to pay for extra plane tickets, and you don't have to run around with you luggage.
But if you want to relax on a beach 2000 kilometres from your house I would advise to just take a plane and rent a scooter, car or driver for a day if you want to get around.
Lets start with the most used transportation: our car.
Roadtrips are hot and let's be honest: They are old school fun! Picknick lunches, down-the-road hotels and surprising stop-overs.
They also might look like the cheapest option, but nowadays this isn't always the case. Often you can fly really cheap to a far-away destination and rent a car at a good rate too.
Important again is to consider about what you want for your holiday. You dream about taking a roadtrip somewhere? You feel like your holiday starts the moment you leave your house? You love travelling down the touristic roads and discovery little villages?
Or you just want to get in your car and arrive as soon as possible. Maybe take a nights rest in between but you prefer to exclude any distractions.
If you want to do a roadtrip, do a roadtrip. Try to use toll free roads and drive around 100 km/hour what reduces the use of fuel. Take a picknick with you or get away from the big roads to eat. Take stops to visit little villages, go for a swim. Simply make sure to start your trip at home.
If you just want to get somewhere far away, consider flying or using busses or trains.
Calculate the cost of your trip: https://nl.viamichelin.be/web/Routes
For longer distances or shorter trips: airplane
If you want to go to a further-away destination without travelling around too much and there is an airport in the area, taking the airplane probably always is the best idea.
However, for every destination below 500 kilometres I personally never consider taking an airplane.
For every destination between 500 and 2000 kilometres I do the maths and check what is the cheapest option. Ofcourse I also consider the amount of time we have.
For example: Driving to München usually is cheaper than flying, but if I want to do a 3 day citytrip, it might just be better to just fly.
Airline fares can get messy and there is absolute no order in it. My best suggestion is to use apps like http://tiny.cc/adyffz to compare flights. If you get a reasonable price out of it, go to the airline website and check the prices over there, don't immediately use the direct link these apps offer.
If you don't like the price; compare flights from different airports. Living in Belgium I have discovered flying from Frankfurt, Paris, sometimes Amsterdam or Weeze is often way cheaper (even if you take the transfer into consideration).
A great tip that really works is to use the incognito mode while surfing, algorithms are often designed to raise the price of flights you often search for. If you want to up your game even more, use a VPN from another country to search for flights. Sometimes it will be low saison in another country while it is high saison at your own. Booking the flights from that country can significantly lower the price of the tickets.
If you don't really care about where you are going use apps like on the ryanair website (https://www.ryanair.com/be/nl/), where you can just enter your dates and budget and they show you were you can go to.
But apart from that I also noticed that plane tickets are often way cheaper early morning and late evening and during weekdays.
And last but not least, when it says 'flight unavailable' don't give up and just call the airline to make sure. Sometimes you will be on hold for some time but better safe than sorry and it is a good excuse to just relax a bit while you wait on the phone.
National or shorter trips: trains and buses:
Travelling by train is great: usually there are great connections, it is environmentally friendly, you will definitely meet new people and there are no traffic jams.
Personally I don't always find it easy to know how to get around by bus or train when we want to do a longer trip. I always use the google maps app for that. You can easily put in your destination and it counts the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. When using trains and buses they give you a detailed description and which transport to use at what time.
The prices for national tickets are usually fixed. Sometimes it might not only be better for your inner zen but also your wallet to travel away from rush hours though. In many countries there are special rates for the more quite hours.
The prices for international transportation often fluctuates. Best is to travel really early in the mornings, late evenings or just during daytime. I also found out you often get better rates when calling to book a bus or train ticket, they go and search for the best price.
Apart from cars, planes, trains and busses there are also some other (often cheaper) ways to travel.
Lets start with walking or biking. When you talk sustainable travel, that is about as sustainable as it gets. But it also makes great fun! It is when transportation becomes your holiday. You have time for talking and can do as much stops as you like.
We haven't tried this kind of travelling ourselves but we've rented out our Airbnb room a couple of times to people travelling like that.
Even when it rains they seem to come in happy and content. Some of them do a trail by foot or bike and are return by train or bus.
If cheap, yet off the beaten track is what you are looking for, you should definitely try it out. You can combine it with camping to keep the prices really low.
Handy are little trailers for your bike (shorturl.at/xBCH0).
If you are travelling with just two persons, hitch-hiking might also be a solution. Now, I do understand it is a tricky one. Nobody wants to get picked up by some sort of serial killer and nobody wants to pick up a serial killer either. (But I have a surprise for you ... I actually have an whole article ready on hitchhiking.)
More safe options are apps that allow you to share a car together with others. You pay a small fee which usually is just a fraction of regular transportation.
We really hope you will be able to save some money out of these tips. If not! Don't worry, we still have many more tips to go!