I pride myself on my ability to travel on a tight budget. But every time I think I’ve learnt all the tricks of the trade, I make a financial blunder and remember that there is always more to learn.
Choosing the cheapest airline
Booking with the cheapest airline may seem like one of the most obvious ways to save money, but it may cost you extra in the long run. No one enjoys being told this, but you really should read the fine print. Some budget airlines manage to advertise low fares because they don’t include the essentials. Luggage, food, entertainment, booking fees and even water can cost passengers extra, and they often have hefty price tags attached. Budget airlines often fly at nonpeak times, which can have you arriving at airports at bizarre hours with limited transport options. It’s important to shop around, and worthwhile doing the maths to see if budget airlines really are the cheapest after adding on extra costs.
Turning your nose up at hostels
Despite the image that hostels are grime-ridden, prison cells full of binge drinkers, hostels can be a great money-saver for people of all ages. The trick is booking the right one for you. Jump on to a website like Hostelworld.com where you can read reviews and compare the prices and locations of hostels everywhere. Some hostels will set an age bracket like ‘35 and under’ so you know to steer clear or risk a total lack of sleep. Private rooms at hostels are also an affordable alternative to a hotel room.
Not considering transport costs
When we think of transport costs, we normally think airfares, but the cost of simply getting into or around a city can add up quite quickly. Not all cities have good public transport options, or they may be more costly than expected. As I mentioned above, taking budget flights can land you in airports at odd hours late at night. Normal transport options, like shuttle buses or trains into town, may not be running, leaving you with the expensive alternative of a taxi. It’s best to see what transport will be available to you when you arrive, and factor this cost into your budget.
Not travelling solo
Now, I’m not saying ditch all your mates and head off alone – well, maybe a little – but according to thefinancialdiet.com, we spend around 30 to 50 per cent more when travelling with a friend. We tend to be more open to going out for meals, drinks, shopping and doing activities we may not do when travelling with a companion. It can become a little harder to keep track of your spending and budget, especially when your friend isn’t on one that’s as strict. Before planning a trip, assess whether your friend is travelling on a similar budget to you or consider taking on the world solo.
Not calculating local taxes
It’s common in many countries to have an additional tax added on to the price of your accommodation. The tax will be a percentage of your accommodation, regardless of whether you stay in a hotel, hostel or bed-and-breakfast. It’s worth looking up what the local ‘occupancy tax’ is while planning your trip so you don’t get caught short when checking out.
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