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.

 

 

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the travel plans

I have changed my travel plans slightly.

I will fly back to the UK for one month in May, and then return back to Thailand – where I will stay in Bangkok for a few days. I will then catch a flight to Auckland from there, rather than spend a month or two in Thailand. Reasons for this include:

  1. it is cheaper to fly in June
  2. I can pack mostly a winter wardrobe – aka more city appropriate clothing
  3. I don’t have to worry about storing my stuff somewhere, as I wouldn’t want to lug around NZ clothing/items
  4. it is time to start the new chapter in my life
  5. the SE Asian adventure ends, the NZ one begins!

29.03.17

Yesterday, I was sick. I threw up at 9AM. I aimed for the sink, but my natural instinct to vomit was far too overwhelming to contain, and thus, I missed my target. Chunks of sick hit the floor and the rubbish bin. I noticed several hours later that an army of ants were drowning in the pool of my vomit – their attempts to carry the lumps of regurgitated food back to their nest were in vain. Eventually, I cleaned the mess up, but in my sickly state, it felt like a hugely laborious task.

I spent the entire day drifting in and out of sleep. It was hot – with lows of 27°c and highs of 38°c – and, whilst my fan was doing an okay job of keeping me cool, I was perspiring heavily; in part due to a slight fever, but mostly due to the heat of Thailand. Waves of nausea would come and go, and I took multiple cold showers to refresh me.

I have been travelling for just over six months. I quit my job in London and purchased a one-way ticket to Bangkok. In that time, I’ve met so many new faces and been offered a small glimpse into their lives: we shared stories, sunsets, memories, and moments together.

The common theme I’ve noticed amongst travellers is that the majority use travel as a way to “find oneself”. Yet I fail to understand this concept; it’s not that I never feel lost or that I have an unwaveringly strong sense of self. It’s clear to me that I travel for the opposite reason – I’m escaping the constructs of what I consider myself to be. Yes, I’m running away from myself.