Travel bug (trav-uhl-buhg) – a wicked bug which has a tendency of biting curious minds and emptying bank accounts quicker than you can say “shall we have a look on Skyscanner?”
We’ve got the bug and we can never seem to shake it off. As soon as we’re on a flight back from somewhere, we’re planning the next simply because we absolutely love it. We’re on a constant mission to see of much of this wonderful world as possible and if money was no object we’d probably never be home. We might not even have a home. But money definitely is an object – we’re just trying to make that object as small and light as possible.
As discussed in our previous two parts to this short series, no matter where we go or what we do, we always get one question and that is how we manage to afford what we do. We’re young, work full time and live in London but without their being any magic wands involved, we’re here to share our tips on how you can boost that travel savings account… and it’s not as complicated as you might think.
In terms of finding those cheap short-haul flights, Skyscanner is our usual go to. It compares prices across hundreds of sites and lists them all in one place for you, but the magic usually arrives when you don’t know where you want to go. Type in a city, country, continent or even ‘everywhere’ and it will give you the cheapest flights not only for specific dates but across a calendar month. So many of our short European city breaks have come from this, so yes, you could say that half the time we’re chasing the lowest price for somewhere we haven’t been, rather than the destination itself.
You’ll often find that you don’t even need to plan well in advance for these types of flights. There’s usually loads of last minute deals out there which if it wasn’t for working full time, we’d be riding the wave of much more regularly.
Quick side note: cross-check Skyscanner against Google Flights for safe measure. There have been a couple of times when Google has come out slightly cheaper – every little helps. But regardless of whether you use Skyscanner, Google Flights or any other site, you’ll inevitably be re-directed to Ryanair or Easyjet. Sign up for seat sale email alerts from these two – the sooner you know about the deals, the sooner you can book and start planning your time away.
Sales and deals are much less common for long haul flights. This years trips to Miami and New York have simply been made possible by booking a long time in advance. By booking four months in advance we were able to get £250 return flights from London to New York, and £300 return flights to Miami – both of which were with British Airways.
On to being savvy once you’ve landed at your destination now, which is all about what we like to call strategic splurging. We could waffle a bit here, but ultimately, don’t spend money you don’t have to. The same can be said for every day life when you’re at home saving for these trips as well.
Embrace the local public transport system and don’t take Ubers, don’t walk into a restaurant not knowing how much you’re likely to spend and nine times out of ten, don’t stay at a hotel. Although we’ve not gone as cheap as staying in hostel dorms with strangers, we stay in Air Bnb’s on the majority of our trips. It’s not always cheaper than a hotel though and don’t forget about the fees that they hide away from you until you get to the booking page! During our Interrail trip of 2017, we stayed in some decent places in Berlin and Budapest for around £30 a night!
Once you’ve saved money in departments that don’t give your trip full purpose or value, you’ll be able to treat yourself and splurge in parts that do. It will be different for everyone but whether it’s visiting a top attraction, dining in a famous restaurant or creating some kind of memory you wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere, you’ll be giving yourself the opportunity to do perhaps everything you want to achieve.
We would hate to be on the plane back from somewhere feeling unaccomplished because we couldn’t afford to experience something. If that was because we ordered too many Deliveroo’s or took a few too many Uber’s the week before we set off, or we let it all out at a hotel we barely spent any time in – it would be absolutely terrible.
Got any tips on finding deals, saving or spending in everyday life or when you’re on your travels? Feel free to share in the comments below!