We’ve all been there – wanting to have that fabulous holiday experience but not having the money in your account to buy a sandwich never mind a flight. Well, we’ve got you covered. From comparison sites to finding a gorgeous spot off the beaten track – and most of the below ideas and websites can be used in the UK too, for those of you not wanting to quarantine.
Alternative travel arrangements
If you’re looking in the right places, you’ll probably be able to find a deal that doesn’t always require leaving the ground. A great app to download is Omio – this app compares prices of flights, coaches and trains, just type in your location/ nearest city to depart from, and where you want to go. Whilst you might be a little skeptical of travelling via coach, you often find other students making the most of the deals, and you might even make a friend. The Eurostar is a great way to get from London to Paris or Amsterdam, so make sure you have a look – the earlier you look, the more likely you are to find a good deal.
Also, If you or your travelling partner have a car, did you know you can drive in Europe (depending on your insurance policy)? A great way to travel at your own speed, and tour across different places, is via a ferry. If you go to ferrysavers.co.uk you’re bound to find a deal to suit you, and there’s a wide range of countries you can visit. All you have to be mindful of is that if you are off to Europe, they drive on the right-hand side of the road, so travel carefully. In terms of cost, this can be more expensive in terms of petrol and parking fares, but if you want to go camping in France then this is the way to go.
My previous point brings me here. Don’t go dismissing tent life because you had a bad time on your bronze DofE and swore to never camp again. You’re a grown adult now, you can do this. At eurocampings.co.uk you can click on a country and find any number of campsites. You’ll see the country in a whole new way that you wouldn’t have seen had you stayed in a hotel, and odds are you’ll meet new and interesting people.
An obvious alternative is to use AirBnB to find accommodation. You can find some gorgeous pads to share with your friends, and if you have a big group of people going this is probably the best way to go. Make sure you have a chat with the owner before you book, to get a feel about who they are and what they’re about, if you can, and never stay in an AirBnB alone – you never know who will be there.
I went interrailing a few years ago and mainly used Hostels. I know what you’re thinking – grubby communal toilets, creepy people and drugs. Not going to lie, in some places you get that, but that’s just the world. If you do your research and read reviews, more often than not you’ll find a gorgeous place to stay. Hostelworld.com has a great comparison site. We stayed in a few St Christopher’s Hostels, and can’t recommend them enough for security and good vibes – we stayed in the Winston in Amsterdam and it was amazing. Most hostels even have a bar attached to them, so you can meet other travellers. We have some great stories about the people we met on our travels and the adventures we had – they all started in hostels.
Price of a pint
The most important question you need to think about when going abroad is: how much is it going to cost me to do what I want to do while I am there? At pintprice.com they’ve done the research for you – at this site, you can submit the price of a pint in your city. You can search for a country, and they will tell you (in your own currency) how much a pint is. You can then split it into cities and beer brands. A great way to spend an afternoon. This was all based on the Big Mac Index, which breaks down the cost of a Big Mac across the world, to reflect the economic status of the country.
Research the attractions
Whether you want to visit a museum, go to a waterpark, or take an excursion to a hidden treasure, make sure you do your homework. Often, if you research and pre-book places, you’ll get a much better deal than if you are spontaneous. For example, in Amsterdam, if you wanted to visit the Anne Frank House, there are few months waiting list but actually, if you wake up early the day you want to go (I’m talking by 7 am), and refresh the website for a few minutes, the day’s tickets will come on sale and you can buy them.
Also, you’ll probably find that there are deals out there. In some cities, attractions band together and you can get discounts on multiple places if you pay a blanket fee.
Sometimes, you might not fancy paying money to go to a zoo or museum – you want to see the culture without the cost, I get that. At atlasobscura.com you’ll more than likely find some hidden, unique treasures that exist away from the touristy hubbub of main attractions. A great place to find on a map is parks – often parks will provide some of the most stunning views and give you some insight into life as a citizen of the place you are visiting.
Another great place to find gorgeous spots is Instagram. Whether you find the cities Instagram page (most tourist information centres have them now), or you just search the name of the place you’re going and scroll through all the pictures of past visitors, you might find something you didn’t expect, and most likely it will be free to visit.
You might even stumble across more culture than you bargained for. When we went to Prague, we fell upon a jazz festival in the city centre, and it turned into one of the best nights of our travels, and when we went to Venice, we found out there was a fireworks display happening to celebrate the anniversary of the plague (I know, mad), and it turned into such a special evening. Take a look at your destination online to see any upcoming events.
Travelling doesn’t have to be super expensive – if you put in the work before you go to find the best deals, you may well be surprised at what you find.