“Viajas más que el baúl de la Piquer”, my friend once said to me. It translates to, “You travel more than the trunk of Piquer”; a Spanish saying from the 40s relating to Concha Piquer, a Spanish singer who travelled the world singing and had the country stickers all over her trunk (suitcase) to prove it. During this year, we’ve been blessed to spend almost every weekend travelling and since September, have visited 8 different countries. How do we do it you may ask?
Well, first of all, we worked hard and saved hard. Sorry to break the fantasy bubble, but when I say we worked hard, I mean we worked hard. There were times I worked three separate jobs at the one time and wouldn’t have a day off in over a month. Guy was the same and even worked overseas for a stint to help save for this adventure. Even now, I am working extra to help feed my travel addiction. My advice is to work out your weekly budget and see if there is any wiggle room for you to put a fixed amount of money aside. Even if it’s only $5, start up a savings account (we used ingdirect) and set up an automatic savings plan. It may seem like a long and tiresome task, but trust me, it’s worth it and after 4 years of saving and sacrificing, it has certainly paid off for us.
However, it doesn’t just come down to that. In fact, we’ve barely touched half of what we’d put aside for this adventure, and it was due to knowing some little insights and tips to help ease the financial burden that our wanderlust has caused. Here are our tips below:
There are plenty of other travel websites out there, but this is normally my go-to for flights. But, before you start dreaming and planning your new trip, use the INCOGNITO option in your browser (or HIDDEN window; the name varies depending on your browser). Basically, when you do a search for flights, car hire, accommodation, etc, websites will often store your search results and even if you’ve closed down the window, it has it stored for the next time you do the same search. You’ll be surprised and somewhat taken back to find your search results have increased in price, despite only searching for it hours or days earlier.
If you use an incognito window however, the results aren’t stored, and the prices aren’t altered to make you rush into purchasing something until you are ready. However, from an ex-travel agent, the longer you take to make a decision, the more at risk you are that prices will increase or the flight/hotel you want books out.
Another cool tip is if you have some dates in mind to travel, but don’t know where, you can put in “Everywhere” as a destination option. This will bring up all results for your dates and departure city (which you can also leave fairly open; eg. I will often put in Spain as my departure point and Everywhere as my destination to bring up the cheapest flights, and decide which airport to leave from). You can also keep the dates open and search whole months and the results will bring up a graph of the cheapest dates to fly.
This is my first stop for accommodation. If you are into backpacking, then maybe head to Hostelworld first instead. However, the reason I like booking.com is that there are no booking fees and a lot of the accommodation listings have ‘free cancellation’ and reasonable conditions, listed clearly on the website. They are cheaper than other 3rd party websites (as I’ve sometimes brought others up to compare prices). It’s also easy for me to book here to keep track of all of my stays in the one place. I’ve booked all types of accommodation, with different budgets, from hostels, to converted castles and even glass igloos.
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This is usually my second search site for accommodation. Airbnb is sophisticated couchsurfing, but with some more control. Owners will list either a room or an entire place that you can book. This is becoming an increasingly popular way to travel and you can often get amazing value and wonderful places (that are more appealing than a plain hotel room).
However, always check the total price at the end, as the listed price on the general results page is a per night price, and normally fees are added once you enquire further. I will often have two windows open; one with booking.com and one with airbnb. Often, I have found the same listing on both sites, but it’s always cheaper through booking.com (as they don’t add the extra fees).
I’ve stayed in lovely places and met wonderful people (with local knowledge!) through airbnb. I’ve done both the room stay (and stayed in the spare room of someone’s house) and booked full apartments. We’ve saved lots of money this way and have felt ‘at home’ abroad. We’ve used airbnb to stay and save in Toledo, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cádiz. If you are in a group, this is definitely a great option. During Carnivale in Cádiz, we managed to have an amazing apartment for 4 of us, yet paid less than what some hostels were charging for individual beds in dorm rooms.
If you haven’t signed up to airbnb yet, click here to sign up and receive $30 (or the local currency equivalent) off your first booking!
I’ll be honest, I’ve only used hostelworld.com a few times. I’ve never been a “dorm room” kinda gal, and if I have to pay an extra €10 to have my own room, I’ll pay without hesitation. However, on the odd occasion that booking.com or airbnb.com have not brought up good enough results, I will check out this site. Some of the hostels listed can be pretty funky (such as Charlie Rockets in Bruges) and it’s worth a mention. Especially if you have no problem sharing dorms with strangers, this site can prove useful.
Like booking.com, this site will bring up any rental cars (from various companies) within your search criteria. Again, this is a good quick go-to site if you want to hire a car as it compares different hire companies and will list all of the conditions for the car. In most cases, it’s free cancellation. Be sure to check if your travel insurance covers you for excess, as it will save you a fair bit of money if it does (and you won’t need to pay for it twice).
If you are dying for a roadtrip, check out Travel-Ling’s rentalcars.com affiliate link in the side bar.
This is also a handy tool to work out the best ways to get to where you want to go. You put in your origin and destination and it will bring up different ways to get there. I will often search here before committing to flights, trains, buses or car hire, as I can compare costs and travel times. At times, the website has brought up unreliable results (for example, the prices are merely a guide), but it is good to look at the map and see what options you have to get to where you want to go.
As per my previous post here, this is another option if you don’t want to take the train or hire a car. You type in your origin and destination and the website will bring up any drivers who are going where you are going and the costs to get a lift with them. It has proven cheaper than buses and trains in the past and often better travel times and schedules. The Spanish site seems to
What are your favourite tips to save on travel? Feel free to put your money-saving tips in the comments below!