It always sounds pretentious to say that you’ve done a fair share of travelling, however I sorta have in the recent past, in the last year anyway. I’ve been on a bit of a budget the last few years due to being a student and having rent to pay, now I’m going to be on an even tighter budget being an intern living in London.
I never wanted to compromise my love of travelling, I worked hard to make sure I could still travel as much as I could. Here’s a couple of tips that have made it possible for me to see parts of the world, it doesn’t always have to be expensive.
1) If you can, be flexible.
On destination or time of flight.
I never planned to visit Oslo, we were looking elsewhere, but the flights were dirt cheap. I’m so glad to have gone and taken in a country and city I’d never been to before. I’m doing a similar thing again soon visiting Milan.
If you’re just craving a mini-break, this is definitely the way to go. Utilise the online world, my favourite thing to use is Ryan Air’s fare finder which tells you the cheapest flights each month. Ryan Air is far from the height of luxury, but for a couple of hours you can deal with limited leg room.
2) Pack light
It’s so much easier to get through the airport without having checked baggage, you’re in and out in no time. Plus most cheap flights come without this luxury, you’ll be stuck with hand luggage. I recently visited Stockholm whilst the temperature was below freezing, and had 10kg of luggage to last 3 days in brutally cold weather. With case weighing 1.7kg and my camera about 0.8kg it was a difficult task. It is very doable however.
Plus it saves you the struggle of juggling large bags/cases between the airport and your destination.
3) Pack in colours, not outfits
I choose which clothes I’m going to take in colours, i.e. for the above Stockholm trip, I decided I’d be wearing blues and blacks, so that’s what I all I took with me. I took a few pieces that I could easily mix and match with pretty much everything else I was taking, making it so much easier to pick pieces and not to overpack. Yet I still ended up having a shirt leftover that I didn’t wear!
4) Utilise Airbnb
Not only is it often cheaper, you experience something more authentic and occasionally some extra perks. In Budapest our hosts picked us up from the airport and drove us back for a small fee, in Oslo we were provided breakfast and freshly ground coffee, in London I was given a free bottle of wine and breakfast made fresh every morning and in Osaka we had a Japanese toilet that wouldn’t switch on – you win some, you lose some.
In Budapest I stayed in an Airbnb with 4 friends for a couple of nights, it worked out as £7 a night each. This apartment was massive, right on the Danube and had two bathrooms, it was unbelievable.
5) Decide what type of trip you want it to be.
Are you going to plan it down to a tee, will you explore aimlessly, or a combo of the two? I think I like to be meticulously planned for 70% of the time, with a bit of freedom to find something new or explore along the way. It’s good to try different plans on different trips to work out what works best for you. You don’t want to miss out on something you would have enjoyed because you didn’t do your research, and at the same time you don’t want to be overly stressed on keeping to a schedule and missing out on something spontaneous.
6) Be organised.
I can’t stress this enough, an organised folder will make your travel experience so much easier. You’ll breeze through the airport without any difficulty, and always be aware of where your money and passport are at all times. It’s better to be extremely anxious over one folder of things than twenty things dotted all over your person.
I was given a travel wallet for a birthday a few years back, it’s been with me on every trip since. It makes things so much easier, it even has sections for each of your necessities so it acts as a checklist too.
7) Pick your travel partners carefully
By this I mean to make sure your travel companions are on the same wavelength as you, are you friends up for getting up at 7am and being out the door for 8am everyday for 14 hours of exploring? Are your friends looking to shop all day, or see sights you’re not interested in? Are your friends just looking to relax? Make sure you have similar ideas in mind, otherwise you’ll butt heads and both be unhappy.
Or conversely you’ll bring out sides of each other you didn’t know were there and have a brilliant time, how am I to know? I’m just a man on the internet.
8) Utilise your phone.
My biggest recommendation would be to see if it’s possible to get mobile data! Some may wish to unplug completely, however when I’ve had data I haven’t sat on Twitter all day, I’ve used it to look up something quickly. It makes everything so much smoother when you can translate things in real time, as well as map out your next journey and be on your way within minutes. It can revolutionise your entire trip.
Have a look at what apps you can download for the local area, you could find some hidden gems thanks to them, and maybe some discounts.
9) Make a permanent packing checklist.
I have a standard ‘weekend away’ packing list that I tweak for whatever trip I’m going on. It’s comforting to know that no matter what you won’t forget the essentials. For me at it’s most basic, this consists of jeans, a jacket, a few shirts, socks and boxers, shoes, toiletries, glasses and chargers.
10) and finally, budget
Stick to a budget, or at least make one. I’ve gone over and above budget whilst away, you can’t ever be certain of how much money you’ll need. I ended up spending way more in Japan than I intended, however I’ve returned from Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands with extra money! It really depends on the trip, however research and planning can help you to control the amount you spend, or at least give you a vague idea of what you’ll need to save for.
It’s better to be left with more money than unable to eat or travel without it!
Thanks for reading!