There’s a lot to be said for travelling. It takes us out of our comfort zone, challenges us, inspires us to try, taste and see new things, and in theory, at least, makes us more interesting people. Evolving perspectives and new horizons are all well and good but… it ain't cheap. Soaring fuel costs, astronomical train fares, and endless flight cancellations notwithstanding, once you get to where you are going, there are usually tons of unanticipated add-ons that you hadn’t planned for.
We’ve compiled a list of how you can get the best of travel on a budget.
It might sound obvious, but to an international level faffer like me, planning is key. Thankfully planning a trip is much easier than it used to be, and finding a hotel, flight or dinner reservation is only a quick Google search away. Take some time on this stage friends, set price alerts for your destinations, and you’ll be richly rewarded. With a bit of patience, everything from cheap flights to low-cost lodgings is just a right-click away.
2. Travel Out of Season
First rule of a penny pinching - check the alternatives. Getting the right priced flight means you’ve already won half the battle. The key here is knowing where to look - the south of France will be a far more expensive destination in the summer, but isn’t it famed for its year round sunshine? Unless you are actually going for the beach, why not consider travelling out of season? You’ll probably get a better in country experience too, as with all the tourists gone, you get to taste a slice of local life.
3. Book in Advance - or Last Minute
Booking a cheap flight is a bit like watching the sky for shooting stars. You know they’re there, but if you’re not looking in the right part of the sky at the right time, you’re going to miss them. Most airline companies’ prices go up as time goes on, so if you’ve done your planning properly, then get the flights booked in asap. If you’re sure-ish, or waiting for flaky friends to commit (yes, I am looking at myself here), then pay a bit extra for cancellation insurance - it’s usually a relatively small amount, but it’ll still be cheaper in the long run.
4. Embrace public transport
A bit of a no-brainer here. Obviously, buses and trains are going to be cheaper than taxis. But...
5. Hire a Car if There’s a Lot of You
Or at least consider it if there are a few of you. Mind you, with petrol costs going through the roof, this one might be a bit of a non-sequiteur.
6. Think About Budget and Destination
You don’t need to be a genius to work out that your good old GBP will go further in Thailand than it will in Norway. Work out if it is the desire to travel that you want to experience, or if it really is the Northern Lights from one of those groovy glass igloos. Research under the radar destinations and consider them rather than just travelling the beaten track. Remember that parts of the same country can vary greatly too - America’s East and West coasts are notoriously dearer than the un-touristy Mid-West. It’s not quite as sexy though.
7.Talk to People
Download a few key phrases, practice them before you go and get chatting to the locals. Not only will you be appreciated for the effort you make but once the conversation switches to English (which it usually does), you will probably find out a few places to go that you won't find in the Lonely Planet. Which probably means they won’t be charging tourist trap prices.
8. Stay for Cheap - or Even For Free
If you’re not used to travelling on a budget, you should know that hostels are not what they used to be. They’re clean, they’re safe and many of them have women only dorms. Even if you don’t want to share with a load of random travellers (although see point above, it pays to be chatty sometimes), you can still get a private room for a bit more. Most of them offer free breakfast too, which is great so you can load up on carbs to keep going throughout the day. Couchsurfing is another option for those who are really strapped for cash, as well as home swaps.
9. Embrace Free Wifi
And get a local SIM card when you arrive. Think about turning your phone on to airplane mode and living off free Wifi to avoid a ₤700 bill when you get back (yes, I’m 100% talking from experience). You’ll also spend less time doom-scrolling, checking emails and the likes.
10. Get Some Ready-Made Cocktails
Travelling to hither and yon is of course ideal, but what happens if you can’t get away? Family commitments, can’t get time off work, or simply just don’t have the budget to get on a plane this year needn’t be a problem. Ophir’s ready-to-drink range is inspired by the very essence of travel and will guarantee you a taste of the exotic, whether you are in your armchair or at the tip of the world. Simply twist, pour and you’ll be dreaming of distant shores in a single sip.