Ever wondered how bloggers your age are able to afford to spend seemingly every weekend in a different country, when you can barely save enough money to pay the bills and also buy Christmas presents for your loved ones?
Our 20s are the best time for discovering the new parts of the world and the new parts within, so traveling is an absolute must. You can spend your youth believing that you don’t have enough time or money, or you can create a mindset that allows you to see that you do. Traveling today is not what it was ten years go and with this article we aim to paint that picture for you.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel more in 2018, here are a couple of DO’s and DON’T’s when planning your next luxury but totally affordable trip on a budget!
DO the planning yourself!
The first step is to figure out your destination. Whether that’s Austria or Portugal, do the research, take your time, check different websites, different offers, compare and contrast. Before you proceed to buying your tickets, put the numbers down and see what is the best time for you to travel.
Let’s say you want to travel to Amsterdam in March. Check out the prices in March, and then compare them with the prices in February and April. Sometimes dates closer to the booking date are cheaper and sometimes the further the date that you’re interested in booking, the cheaper the price. There are last minute deals, but usually planning in advace is the cheapest option.
What’s more, if going to a particular city from your country is expensive, traveling from another country might actually be really cheap. Look for further destinations you can reach from point B (your destination), that would otherwise be really expensive from point A (your city or country).
Websites such as Skyscanner offer the opportunity to select ‘Everywhere’ if you’re unsure where you want to go, which can be quite useful. Plus, you can compare the different prices for a whole month.
DON’T dismiss the hostels
Once you have booked your flights, it’s time to start thinking about the accommodation, where the principle is almost the same – the sooner you plan, the cheaper the prices!
In the past decade, the word ‘hostel’ has acquired a couple of new meanings and a couple of new synonyms, some of which ‘B&B’ and ‘Airbnb’. Hostels are the alternative to hotels and most often than not they signify traveling on a budget. With the many affordable and trendy places Airbnb offers, it’s hard not to mention it.
Just look at this gorgeous flat in Amsterdam that costs €90 per night and requires no additional fee for extra guests.
If you do a quick search for the rest of the available accommodations, you’ll find single rooms at that price and above, which offer the same ”exclusive luxurious style”. Research is essential before booking, because you can easily miss such an amazing little spot!
DO keep in mind unexpected changes
Sometimes prices change, places are closed, and people act in unpredictable ways. If you keep checking flights without booking, for instance, their price will most certainly increase as you keep refreshing the website. Keep in mind that restaurants are occasionaly closed for a private hire, museums every now and then close in order to set up the next exhibition, or change their opening hours depending on the season, and some attractions are always busy so you need to prepare with extra patience.
Book your tickets as soon as possible, but be prepared for unexpected changes along the way.
When I first visited Venice for a day trip, for example, it was impossible for me to go back. The workers at the train station went on a strike without any warning or explanation, and there was no other transportation available to reach the rest of Italy. This, however, gave us an excuse to wander through the streets and canals of Venice, and ultimately have an unforgettable autumn story to tell!
DON’T forget to include transportation in your budget
Speaking of transportation, whether you choose to rent a car or use the public transportation, make sure you put it in your budget. If you’re traveling to a cycling country, like Denmark or Italy, travel like the locals and rent bikes. Also try to keep the taxis to a minimum.
Always check where your accommodation is located and what available transport there is nearby.
This will not only provide you with a better sense of the city you’re visiting, but it will also help you find your way around to the city centre, the main attractions and back.
DO check the prices for museums and other attractions in advance
Did you know that the Italian state museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month, that the National Museum in Oslo is free on Thursday, and that you can visit Paris For Free for some good deals and free activities? Plus, most museums usually have special discount when you book tickets online, even if you miss the free entry.
It’s worth researching the must-see places once you’ve booked the flights and accommodation. This will help you plan your days better. Some of the best Insta-photos come from the interiors of museums and the attractions that provide the opportunity for unforgettable sightseeing.
If you use the name of your destination as a hashtag on Instagram, you’ll find plenty of images to keep you inspired for your upcoming trip!
The Botanical Garden in Copenhagen is one mesmerizing gem hidden in plain sight, which also happens to have free entry.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to have an amazing time, create unforgettable memories and take some beautiful photos!
DON’T ignore online reviews
If a place looks attractive but has really low scores and bad comments, then that’s a sign that something’s wrong with it. This, in fact, applies to both accommodations and places to eat. There’s no better place to trust strangers than in their online reviews!
No one is more sincere than when they are truly satisfied or truly disappointed with a particular place.
The sign of ‘food poisoning’ in the comments section of a restaurant is usually a reason enough to simply skip it!
DO visit the must-see bars, restaurants and cafés
During your research, you’ll probably discover some popular spots that everyone is posting pictures of. My advice is, even if these places seem pricey, go for a cup of Joe or share a dessert – it will give you an excuse to take a picture, indulge in a tiny treat, have a memory to show off with to your friends, and remember the taste of a particular country!
Italy’s known for its pasta, pizza and Aperol spritz. One must certainly eat a paella in Spain. Belgium is famous for its waffles. Ah, Germany and its würstels, and the Czeck Republic with its beers! But let’s not forget that it’s always tea time in Great Britain! Yet it’s one thing to have heard all about the traditional food in the different countries, and to have actually tried them. Restaurant food might be expensive, but you can certainly find some lunch deals, street food markets, and even allow yourself one fancy dinner.
Remember that it’s worth investing some time and money into getting to know a country’s traditions and culture.
DON’T plan a long trip
Here’s a common belief amongst people who perceive traveling as an expensive hobby: there’s no point in doing it if it’s not at least week-long.
There’s no arguing about the fact that the longer you stay abroad, the more you’ll have to pay. But I can assure you that even a weekend-long trip will have you return a different person.
Heraclitus once said, ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’ Every trip, no matter how small it might seem to you, carries a different meaning, that you will discover only when you take it. Last January I took a four-day long trip to Alicante and managed to find myself on my birthday on top of the Santa Bárbara Castle doing a little dance, being absolutely dazzled by the amazing view!
Consider the possibility of taking smaller trips every now and then, especially when you spot cheap flights, rather than saving for longer trips in bigger intervals.
DO enjoy your trip!
Remember that it’s okay to spend a little more than you planned on a holiday as long as you’re investing money in the experiences rather than into a shopping spree. Life doesn’t always go according to plan so try to enjoy it as it comes, with all of its challenges and surprises, and try to laugh even through the hardest moments!
The Danish word ‘hygge‘ brings your attention to the present moment and the idea of appreciating the little moments for true joy is hidden in them: be it reading a book on a rainy afternoon or playing with your youngest siblings. We should all bring more hygge into our philosophy of life!