How can you travel for less? Check out our five hacks to help you keep to your budget.
One concern at the forefront of the minds of travel-lovers is how expensive their trips are going to be. Everyone’s always looking for hacks to save more of their hard-earned cash, so we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to help you travel on a budget.
One: Travel light
If you’re flying, your free baggage allowance will depend on your carrier’s policy, with which you should familiarize yourself in advance of your trip. Typically, low-cost airlines (such as Ryanair in Europe, or Frontier Airlines in the US) charge extra for any item of baggage checked into the plane’s hold. Therefore, forgoing any checked baggage will save you money. However, to do so, you need to be able to fit all of your things into a cabin bag, and with this come considerations.
Be aware of the exact specifications of the cabin bag that your airline will allow you to bring on your person free of charge. For a lot of carriers — whether they’re low-cost or not, this will be a small suitcase not exceeding the dimensions of 56 x 45 x 25 centimeters. This is the guideline set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but it’s by no means a hard-and-fast rule. For instance, some major low-cost airlines — two prime examples being Ryanair and Wizz Air — do charge extra for a small suitcase like this, as the size of their free baggage allowance is limited to that of a backpack. Still, the cost of an IATA-approved cabin bag is usually less than that of a checked bag.
So, what can you fit inside a bag whose dimensions are 56 x 45 x 25 centimeters? Your valuables and documents, minimal toiletries (which we’ll get onto in a minute), and a couple of changes of clothes. On that note, a common tip is to wear as many items of clothing as you can to travel in. You may look a bit chunkier, and you might get slightly uncomfortable if you’re jetting off in the summer, but it’s all in the name of saving those pennies.
Something else to take into account if you want to travel without checked baggage is the fact that your liquid allowance will be restricted. Try to skimp on the toiletries and cosmetics if you can, and you definitely won’t be able to bring any normal-sized drinks with you.
On the other hand, if larger volumes of liquid are absolutely necessary for your trip, the checked baggage allowance would likely work out cheaper — rather than buying liquid items again either after airport security, or once you get to your destination. This is especially true for avid makeup-wearers, speaking from my personal experience. Yet, this is rather the exception to the rule: the less you take away with you, the more money you’ll save.
Two: Eat smart
While you won’t be able to bring drinks in your cabin bag, you can certainly bring solid food. Dining at airport outlets can be expensive, especially airside (after you get past security and/or passport control). Therefore, it stands to reason that some advance preparation to ensure that you have some sustenance throughout your journey will cut down your costs incurred in transit.
The same rule generally applies once you get to your destination. Eating out in cafés and restaurants is certainly part of the holiday experience, but if you’re mindful of your budget, it’s useful to stay somewhere where you’ll have access to a kitchen. Having a kitchen means that you’re able to prepare your meals with supermarket food items, just as you’d do at home — and carry them with you on your adventures. It sounds pretty straightforward and evident, but it really is an effective money-saving tip.
Three: Buddy up
Communal living is the best way to lodge when traveling on a budget. Hostels are the classic mode of cost-effective accommodation, where you’ll typically pay for a bed rather than a private room. What’s more, a lot of them have kitchens (result!), and the set-up makes it easy for travelers to meet others just like them. You never know — you might make some lasting friendships, more than you bargained for on your economical exploration.
If you’re particularly easygoing, you might choose to go one step further and do a homestay. CouchSurfing is probably the most famous online network of hosts allowing travelers to stay with them in exchange for absolutely nothing, aside from their brief companionship. In essence, you get to offer your wonderful personality to someone, instead of the contents of your wallet.
On the other hand, if you feel a bit uneasy about living with new people, consider bringing your own friends along on your trip. If you were all to rent a single house, flat or hotel room, naturally, everyone’s budgets would only take a fraction of the hit. Sharing is caring.
Four: Stay on the ground
You can get some incredibly cheap plane tickets nowadays (and there are hacks to make them even cheaper, which we’ll see in due course). But if you don’t mind taking the time, consider making your journey on land instead.
Long-distance buses are a great means of transport if you’re traveling on a budget. What’s more, your baggage allowance on a bus will typically be more generous than it would be when flying with a low-cost airline — most operators accept one piece of hold luggage per passenger, free of charge.
In Europe, some of the biggest international bus companies are Flixbus, Megabus, and Eurolines. Together, these companies operate routes spanning several tens of countries, so you’re sure to be able to get from A to B efficiently on the road. There are lots of long-distance bus companies operating elsewhere in the world, too. Kiwi.com’s search aggregator allows you to filter results by mode of transport — a nifty way to check for bus links from wherever you are, to wherever you want to go.
Traveling by train can also be more economical than flying, so it’s definitely worth researching your rail route and ticket options. If you happen to be planning an extensive European tour, the popular Interrail and Eurail passes allow you plenty of flexibility to plan your journey for great-value prices. Let’s not forget that long-distance train travel can be a charming experience in and of itself; sit back and enjoy the rural views from the window, share a beer or a game of cards with your fellow explorers, and allow yourself to be soothed at night by the gentle motion of your sleeper carriage.
One last thing that ground transport has over flying is that you’ll almost always reach the center of your destination, arriving at a bus or train station. This means that there’s less of your budget to be spent on the sometimes time-consuming transit between the airport and the city. Depending on the airport at which you land, you might have no choice but to take a taxi, and no cash-conscious tourist wants that.
Five: Book with Kiwi.com
At Kiwi.com, we hack the system. Our aggregator has a few tricks up its sleeve to show you the best possible prices for the trip that you want to take.
If you’re a real globetrotter, one of these tricks that you can use to your advantage is Nomad. Nomad ingeniously takes your desired destinations, along with the length of time you intend to spend in each, and draws up the cheapest itineraries for you to choose from. Voilà — wanderlust satiated, without breaking the bank.
Another, rather unique way in which Kiwi.com sources low-cost tickets is by including “hidden segments” to some itineraries. It may seem nonsensical, but some (usually legacy) airlines will charge more for a one-way ticket than for the same route with either a return or an onward flight. For example, even if you want to go one-way from Paris to Los Angeles, it may be cheaper to buy a return ticket, or a ticket that goes from Paris to Mexico City, with a stop in Los Angeles. Of course, you’re not forced to come back to Paris or to travel on to Mexico City; simply leave the airport in Los Angeles, disregarding the extra flight.
In the industry, this practise is called “throwaway ticketing”, and it’s such an innovative little money-saving hack. To make use of throwaway ticketing, however, as when choosing to fly without checked baggage, you need to bear certain conditions in mind.
One of these considerations is to do with flying without checked baggage: your itinerary is strictly cabin-bag only if you have a hidden onward flight. The simple reason for this is — to use our example route — if you were to check in a bag in Paris, it’ll end up ahead of you in Mexico City.
You must also make sure that you have sufficient documentation (such as a visa) to arrive, hypothetically, at your “final” destination. At the airport, you’ll be checked in all the way to Mexico City. As such, the carrier will need to see relevant documents from you for entry into Mexico, even though in practise, you’re not going there.
Our website finds these special tickets within a matter of seconds. Rest assured that it will always tell you if any of your search results contains a hidden segment, and it will make you aware of the itinerary’s conditions. If you can’t or don’t accept the conditions, that’s absolutely fine — Kiwi.com still offers lots of ticket options that don’t include hidden segments, at very competitive prices.
So there we have it — five practical ways to save money when going about your journey. Travelling doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; some careful planning, fine-tuning and all-round good thinking is all that’s necessary.
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