So over the last month I’ve made two trips, despite being pretty strapped for cash (or maybe the initial bookings are why I’m strapped for cash…nah, can’t be!). Either way, everyone knows travelling is an expensive habit and one of the most common questions I see people ask travel bloggers is: how do you afford all this?
To skip past the obvious answers, as I am not a paid blogger, I work. I work full-time and sometimes up to two extra jobs to keep paying for what I love to do. But the answers people really want are how I keep things cheap when I get there. Let me break it down:
Trains to Edinburgh: we searched high and low (on trainline, my personal favourite) and opted for the 6am departure train on a Friday and the slightly later than convenient 6pm departure Sunday evening. By travelling at inconvenient times and sacrificing a bit of sleep we were able to get the return journey for £24.
Next, accommodation. I often use HostelWorld to search for hostels but there are plenty of good sites out there (YHA, Hostelling International and HostelBookers are all good). We found ourselves a very cheap one – still with great reviews – that covered all the basics we needed. It didn’t look fancy but it was a great place to stay, and we ended up paying £13 a night (hostels in Europe are often cheaper), we could have had it even cheaper in an 8-bed mixed dorm, but we chose 6-bed female. Up to you. Other good options are couch surfing, although I haven’t personally used it yet it is well recommended by my friends, and, especially if you’re a couple and don’t fancy a dorm, Air BnB. I used the site for the first time recently and would definitely recommend it.
When arrive at your wonderful destination, here are my quick tips. I applied these in both Edinburgh and Portugal, and all over Europe before.
1. Walk everywhere.
Where possible. I mean, it’s a nicer way to see a place anyway, you get a feel for the town/city, the pace of life, the architecture and the people. And it saves you plenty of money on transport. Otherwise, where possible again, navigate the public transport system (and be ready to laugh when it goes wrong!). If you do your research first you can usually find good local travel tips and deals.
2. Cook for yourself
…once or twice during the holiday. So some places I go I just want to eat EVERYTHING all the time (just ask my other half). However, you may go somewhere where eating out every night isn’t necessarily that exciting or different to home (I wasn’t too fussed about the cuisine in Edinburgh for example). Pop to a local supermarket and make yourself a nice meal for cheaper. Okay, in Edinburgh we got two pizzas, garlic bread and some beer to eat and drink in the hostel but it was a really nice, chilled and cheap night. Equally, sometimes a street kebab or stir fry can be just as cheap!
3. See if you can get what you came for without the entrance fee.
By which I mean – find out what days or times museums and galleries are free or reduced entry. Or do like we did recently with two castles ; go right up to them, enjoy the view and the architecture, sample as much as is visible before you get to the ticket gate.
4. Take your own food to the airport.
Beware it isn’t liquid but otherwise knock yourself out. I learnt from the best – my mother – who always takes holiday rucksacks loaded up with sandwiches, crisps, biscuits, fruit (watch out with that one though). I often take cold pizza in a tuppa or pastries from a bakery. I also took my own food on the way to Edinburgh because I didn’t want to spend loads buying food on the train.
What are your cheap holiday tips? Let me know in the comments – I’d love some more ideas! Also, if you want to see more tips and posts like this, let me know too.