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Friday, 14 August 2015

How To Travel On A Budget Like A Pro

Gone are the days when travelling was considered luxury. In this digital age when everything is at the tip of our fingertips, travelling has never been easier. When as before, booking a flight means going to the airline office or getting a travel itinerary means going to a travel agency, opening your laptop is all you need nowadays. But if you want to travel on a budget, you need to be more savvy than just being able to operate a computer.

Travelling on a budget does not necessarily mean staying in a hostel or B&B nor does it mean taking the red eye or eating from a food truck your entire holiday. All you need is a plan and a little skill. 

Chances are, your mode of transport will be the most expensive item that you will buy on a trip unless you take the train or go with a budget airline.  Even with budget airlines, you could be paying big money if you are not careful. 

Plan ahead. It's highly unlikely that you will get cheap flights at the last minute so I always plan our trips way ahead. From three to six months in advance, you can definitely bag a bargain holiday. Case in point, our flights to New York in March was booked in September. Exactly six months from our flight saving us  £350 each return and that is flying with British Airways. Our recent trip to Oslo which was booked three months in advance, was £180 return for three people and that includes airport parking. It also helped that we flew midweek. Flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Thursday will always guarantee a bargain as much as flying early in the morning and late in the evening. 

This also applies when travelling by train.

Once your bargain flight is secured, you can now start searching for your hotel. You have more leeway in this area. Whereas you cannot cancel a flight without being charged,  with hotels, you can cancel as late as twenty four hours before check-in. I tend to start with comparison websites like hotels dot com and booking dot com. I book them on the free cancellation option and between then and my flight, I keep tabs on the prices. If they go down, I cancel and rebook on the new lower price. 

Be intuitive. Do not be fooled by comparison websites though. A handful of times I discovered that the hotel's main website offered the exact same rate. Sometimes they are cheaper and also with free cancellation. You get perks when you book directly with the hotel so it is best to cancel and book directly when this happens.

I am never the one to scrimp on food, especially on holiday when there is an abundance of choices. But if there is a chance of spending less on food without compromising on the quality then I am in. 

They say hotel buffet breakfasts are expensive but there is actually some savings to be had when you avail of it. Let us face it, nobody really wants to wake up at the crack of dawn during this time. Chances are, people tend to wake up late in the morning and having the buffet breakfast as brunch (breakfast and lunch) is savings in itself. There are so many options on a buffet breakfast that it fills you up until afternoon. The next time you need to spend on food would be for an early dinner. 

Another option is bringing breakfast in. When we were in Paris, we did not include breakfast with our hotel as we wanted to have breakfast in a cafe, al fresco a la Parisienne. We did a lot of walking the day before that a lie in the next day was a very tempting idea. The thought of waking up early did not appeal too much anymore so we bought some delicious pastries from PAUL and had them for breakfast with the free coffee in our hotel room the next day. PAUL pastries are not cheapest of pastries but it was still cheap compared to eating out for breakfast. We did splurge by eating in Angelina's for lunch that day. We were on a holiday after all. 

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