reflecting on budget travels in europe

Travelling is something that enriches the soul: exploring new cultures, local delicacies, breathing fresh air, and even just getting lost in a new surrounding.

Travel need not be expensive. You will need to save up some money to physically reach your destination; but finding accommodation and healthy eats can be inexpensive if you research and plan your trip.

Last year, I took a long weekend in Denmark and in total, I spent under £200 over four days (three nights). Prior to that, I spent three days in Amsterdam (two nights) and spent £155 on accommodation (hotel) and return flights. 

Research

Firstly, you want to find the best deal possible. My number one tip: use Google Flightsmomondo and Skyscanner to find cheap flights.

Budget airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, and WhizzAir have many tickets on sale at a reasonable price and are ideal for short-haul flights. Note: these flights will generally only include a hand luggage allowance. If you can be flexible with the dates (especially midweek), you’re more likely to find a cheap deal. You can just browse all destinations and find one that is cost-effective and convenient.

If you’re travelling for a longer time frame, or visiting multiple cities/countries, you should take care to look for checked-luggage allowance.

Prepare

It’s also a good idea to set a spending limit and work to stick to it. Once you’ve paid the basics (flights and accommodation), you should set a budget for your daily spend on food and things to do.

Next, you will need to change up currency (if you can do this in advance, you can plan ahead to find the best exchange rate and make the most of your money). It might also be worth talking to any friends/family/co-workers that may have some of that currency that they will exchange you for a better rate. If you can agree a rate between you, you will save having to fork out on commission as well as helping someone shift unwanted currency.

Plan Ahead

In addition, I would recommend planning your journey to and from the airport and booking as far in advance as possible to get the best deals. This is something I didn’t do on my recent trip, and a single ticket from King’s Cross London to Luton Airport cost more than my return flight to Denmark.  If you can get a free lift, book a cheap coach or train ticket, do it ASAP because the prices increase nearer the day.

Also, once you know where you are staying, it is best to plan the route from your destination to your accommodation. Knowing which train or bus you need to take will result in a stress-free brain and be much cheaper than landing and thinking “oh well, may as well book a cab”. You’ll get to experience the city’s transport system as a local would which is much more satisfying.

Accommodation

The best way to find cheap accommodation is remind yourself that it is not necessarily about looks and aesthetic: think functionality, practicality, and value for money. Think about what you want most from the holiday: you could consider renting an apartment on sites like AirBnB. This works well if you’re travelling as a couple or group as you can split the cost for accommodation and food. The benefit of renting an apartment is access to a kitchen where you can whip up delicious meals for a fraction of restaurant prices.

If you’re a solo traveller, there are many inexpensive dorm rooms available in budget hostels. You’ll get to meet fellow travellers and some hostels have free breakfast. If you want to live like a local, you can couchsurf and stay on someone’s sofa/spare room free of charge. The majority of the hosts are extremely accommodating and go above and beyond with showing people around the area. If you’re visiting somewhere for a longer period of time, things like WWOOFingHelpX or workaway can offer bed and board in exchange for a few hours of work a day. In addition, you’ll ideally want to find somewhere to stay that has access to a kitchen, as this will be instrumental in slashing the cost of your trip.

 

 

zeroo tattoo

Situated in a non-descript road in the old city of Chiang Mai, it would be easy to overlook this tattoo shop. A friend of mine was visiting, and she was looking to get a tattoo. After extensively researching online, she settled on Zeroo Tattoo, but unfortunately, the artist she wanted was working in Bangkok. Sadly, my friend didn’t get tattooed because of this, but I decided that I would get inked there next.

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On March 30th, I rocked up at 6PM, basically as a walk-in appointment, and was seen that day. I was tattooed by Tao, my first experience with a female tattoo artist. Her Instagram can be found here. I contacted her previously with the design that I wanted, so she was aware of the size and placement of my tattoo.

First impressions:

Through the shop window, I see a Thai guy getting his shoulder coloured in. He has a large torso piece already outlined, and he is lying on his side, grimacing slightly as the artist inks away at his skin. As I walk through the door, I am greeted by Tao and asked to sit down. She recognises me from our fairly long back-and-forth exchange on Facebook.

Tao traces up a copy of the design I want, and gets to work. The shop is clean, and I see the staff select a new needle from a sealed packet. I can tell the staff love their job because of the fact they go above and beyond for each of their customers. Further samples of their work can be viewed here and you can contact them here.

I lie down on the black leather chair with my arm stretched out and I hear the familiar sound of the tattoo machine buzzing. I wait in anticipation for the process to begin, and finally, the sharp needle rapidly punctures my flesh, leaving behind a permanent trail of black ink.

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