We often get asked how we manage to travel so much. Part of it, is carefully designing our work and lifestyle so that we have the time and flexibility. One of the other key things we do, is travel in a way so that we can travel more! In other words, we rarely invest all of our travel funds into one trip and we’re careful about how we spend our funds when we are on trips. Here are a few strategies that we use to ensure that we have more money available for adventures…
- Travel slowly. Generally the slower you travel, the more you will experience the destination that you’re exploring and the cheaper it is… This applies to the flight you choose but also the mode of transport altogether. A boat is usually cheaper than a flight. A train is typically cheaper than a boat. Driving (economically!) is often cheaper than a train, a motorbike or scooter is cheaper than a car. Using a tuk tuk is cheaper than a taxi. Pedalling your own bike is cheaper than a scooter, and walking is the cheapest of all! Yes, many of us are time starved, but it’s well worth exploring options.
- Design your own trip. Travel agents are great for ideas, and for certain holidays, where money is not an issue they can save you a lot of time. However, if you can make the time then design your own trip rather than booking a tour package. The research process helps you to learn more about the country that you’re visiting, (I find that really helps to boost the excitement levels too!) it also means that you can get better deals on accommodation and experiences. If you are going to be staying in one location then research hotels that you like the look of and email or call them directly. You will generally get a much better deal than going through an agent. If you’re going to be travelling around then there are numerous websites that show you what hotels are nearby, their costs and whether they have availability. Many will also offer last minute deals which bring the cost down even more. Booking.com Agoda, and Air BnB are three that we use on a regular basis and have actually travelled for three month stints just using these (we like to be fairly spontaneous with our travel plans, so a lot of the time we book our accommodation on the same day or the day before and we’ve never had a problem finding somewhere).
- Plan your timing. Pretty much every location has their ‘high season(s)’. A period of time when they have more people visiting and charge higher prices. For example, in many countries in Europe the summer months are the most expensive, but if you choose to go on the ‘shoulder season’ i.e. Autumn or Spring you will often be treated to much lower prices for your accommodation and for actually getting there. It will also generally be a lot quieter! So it’s worth checking out when the ‘high’ and ‘shoulder’ seasons are in your chosen destination.
- Eat & drink where the locals do. Not only will you experience the true culinary delights of that particular culture but you will also save a lot of money! Restaurants in tourist destinations ramp up their prices and often warp their food and menus to satisfy tourist’s palates. So not only will you miss out on another special part of the travel experience but you will often pay 3-4 times the cost of walking around the corner and finding a locals’ bar/restaurant. This also applies when you’re travelling in the UK. I recently had to wait for a connecting train from a train station in Birmingham. I couldn’t believe the prices so wandered out of the station and within 100metres I found a local pub where the drinks were 60% cheaper than in the station.
- Take your own food & drink as you travel. It can be really tempting to break into ‘holiday mode’ and treat yourselves to drinks and food on the plane/train. Sometimes this is a nice treat, but if money is a little tight then bear in mind that the drinks served on planes and trains can be as much as 4 times the cost of the same drink bought in a super market or even more. I recently checked out the costs of a beer on a flight from the UK to Spain and couldn’t believe that the €5 can they were offering was available in the spanish supermarkets for €0.47! So sometimes it’s worth holding fire, and heading to a local shop when you land.
- Possibly the key thing that has saved us literally thousands over the years is ‘Skye’ our much loved and much used converted T4 van. She has taken us throughout Europe on numerous occasions and loyally serves as our transport, accommodation, kitchen and kit transporter. We can be completely flexible in terms of where we go, where we eat, how long we stay and where and when we want to sleep. We bought and converted Skye ourselves and cannot imagine life without her now. You can buy reasonable camper vans for £5000+ but if you don’t want to make that investment you can also hire them for trips. To be honest though, if you love travelling, have an adventurous spirit and don’t feel the need for 5* accommodation, then buying a van could be one of the best lifestyle investments you ever make.