Travel Doesn’t Need to be Expensive

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…it is a vicious myth usually spread by travel virgins or grumpy folk who simply don’t understand the need to travel. There are plenty of people seeing all the beautiful countries, fascinating cultures, stunning cities and more.

Some might be on gap yaaars, indulgent honeymoons or simply be able to (and want to) pay megabucks (no, there’s nothing wrong with those type – all travel is good travel in my opinion). There are also plenty more people backpacking their way round the world, savvy work and stay-ers , or guys like me who simply save money to spend it  ticking off their travel list.

No Luck

I hate it when I share my next trip with someone and they reply “oh you’re so lucky”. I am not lucky, there’s no luck involved. Anyone can travel.  I work hard (well most of the time) and use the money to live and also save. I plan and research to get good deals. Not only that, I “do it”. It’s the bit most struggle to understand. I actually go ahead and do it. Rather than daydreaming and wishing, I take the step and book. Now don’t get me wrong, it is not an easy overnight instant thing (I am still looking for that money tree). Sometimes it takes me a few years to save enough money for a particular trip, but I put the wheels in motion by saving a bit each month.

I have always wanted to go to San Francisco, so for my thirtieth (I know, the BIG 3-0, eek!) I am saving a little bit per month, which should just about give me enough to get there.

For me, I know that the trip will be worth minor sacrifices, like skipping a coffee during my lunch break. Seeing the spookily intriguing Alcatraz, trying the eateries featured on Man Vs Food (hell yes, I reckon I can conquer The Kitchen Sink), walking over the Golden Gate Bridge….oh so much to do, I can’t wait!

Be True

However, your life is all about YOU and what you want. It is your money; spend it on what you want – be that clothes, your babies, sport or my personal favourite, travel. Please though, if travel is your bag and you do want to go somewhere, please, please, please do it.

Don’t be the person that says “I was going to visit such and such a place” or “I wish I could do that”. That’s a boring story. Be the person that says “I went to an amazing city” and then share your exciting experiences with others; not only fulfilling your own travel desires, but possibly also inspiring them.

I know for some people, money isn’t the only obstacle to their travel. Perhaps, you’re caring after a loved one or have children to take into consideration. That shouldn’t stop you from living your life though and exploring places (if that’s what you enjoy).

Look for adventures closer to home, or perhaps reduce the ideal two weeks to a one week trip – better to see it than not see it all, even if it is for a brief moment in time. However, in my experience the main barrier to travel is money.

Here are my seven pearls of wisdom to overcome money concerns and make a trip a reality:

The details in the planning and the internet is your friend:

Get online and research that dream place. Google the cheapest times to visit said country/city (and remember to check the weather. Although you might get a cheap flight, I doubt you want to be somewhere in hurricane season). Search what prices different agents/providers are offering. Plan what are your must dos and what are extras that would simply be a bonus. Focus on finding a price that above all hits your must dos – don’t get side tracked by what the online adverts want you to buy – they are after their commission, you are after your travel dreams. Focus!

Flexibility will do you wonders:

Prices tend to hike during school holidays, avoid them if you can. Don’t have children? You can find out the dates of UK school terms here. Weekend prices are usually more expensive – Tuesdays are often good days to fly if you can. Deals via Groupon, Secret Escapes etc are usually quite appealing for your purse strings, but you’ll normally need to be flexible and travel on their dates.

Happy Shopper:

Shop around to get an idea of prices. You’ll be surprised how so many providers can offer exactly the same product but at different prices. Personally, I love Trivago for accommodation. I was sceptical at first, but it has actually saved me quite a bit of money (up to £80 on a booking) and it does all of the hard work for you by searching various agents.

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Dealio:

Found your flight/hotel/experience? Before confirming any booking, make sure you Google promo/voucher codes for the relevant provider. A lot of times you can find a 10% discount code for not much effort at all. 10% off a £500 flight soon adds up.  Also, a lot of providers now offer to beat or match any prices offered by other companies, so do your research.

Everyone has baggage:

Many flight providers charge for checking a case/bag into the hold. Some charge £80 per case, so if you can, pack lightly and simply take your essentials in your hand luggage, avoiding the fee.

If you’re travelling with someone, why not buddy up and share bulky items such as hair straighteners or a hair dryer. Even if you just have one checked in bag between you, rather than two that’s still a saving.

Also, check what items your hotel provides – you may not need to take many toiletries at all. If you can’t pack lightly, then make sure you pre-book your luggage into the hold. You will often get a hefty reduction in doing so – Ryanair can charge £200 per bag if you leave it until you are at the airport.

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Make a plan:

Decided on where you want to go? Not got the money? Sit down and work out your finances. You don’t have to be a mathematician; there are plenty of apps out there to work out your expenses/income. I am a fan of the app “Spending by MH Riley”.

Work out what you could cut down on or what you might be prepared to give up. That everyday coffee could change to every other day, or perhaps smoke one less packet of cigarettes a week, shop at a cheaper supermarket – the options are endless, but you know what will work for you. Then set up a standing order from your account for the said amount. It is quite exciting watching the money build up, knowing you are getting closer to that trip of a lifetime.

Be a savvy saver:

In relation to the tip above, don’t wait until the money is all there though. About six months before, start checking out deals and prices so you don’t miss out on some bargains – some providers allow you to book with a deposit, paying the rest on departure. Any extra money in your savings pot can then go towards an extra excursion/glass of wine (or possibly even both). Particularly with flights, I usually find the earlier you book the cheaper they are.

So there you have it, my seven pearls of wisdom for making travel a bit more of a reality. It won’t be easy, but if I can do it, so can you. You don’t need luck. Happy travelling!

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