Anna’s #basic guide to travel

I always say that I regularly go bankrupt on aeroplane tickets. I just really love to travel (here is where I shamelessly refer back to my travel guides for Rome and London). A couple of years back I heard someone make it their New Year’s resolution that they wanted to travel to at least five places every year. The idea of that appealed to me enough that I decided to copy that resolution. I kept it, too. Since I started university I’ve been to Paris, London, Barcelona, Rome, Dublin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Venice, Budapest, and Vancouver are still on my lift for this summer. I decided that travelling was worth splurging on. But even though I made that decision, it is a truth universally acknowledged that  students don’t have the biggest purse. See, that joke at the beginning of this article is more complicated than it seems. Seeing me travel all over the place, people have often asked me where I even got the money from to be away so much. Bottom line: travelling is not the cheapest hobby to have. Even so, I don’t actually go bankrupt on it as much as some would expect. To make sure a daily life has at least a bit more to offer than instant ramen, I learned a couple of useful tips to keep my expenses in check. Although most of these are no surprise, they seem to often be forgotten for consideration.

  • The biggest tip is making friends. Once you are brave enough to open up a conversation with strangers, even if it’s just an exchange student in your class, you might have gotten yourself a new friend and maybe even a fairy godparent in travel. Locals know the ins and outs of the city and might even offer a place to stay if you’re lucky enough, so the more you know, the better.
  • Regardless of the somewhat bad reputation of the app, Tinder is actually an amazing way to meet new people on your adventures. If you are confident in your swiping abilities and generally have good judgement of (pixelated) people, Tinder is definitely worth a shot and proved useful outside the sporadic hookup.
  • Yes, it’s nothing new. Yet somehow often forgotten when considering something in the likes of a city trip. You might have to overcome your fear to relive your elementary school camps and share a room with 19 other strangers, but these forms of accommodation save a lot of costs when travelling. Not only can you save on your stay, but most hostels also have a kitchen to cook your own food so you don’t have to spend all your money on food (but face it: secretly we all spend all our money on food anyway). Besides the saving factor, these hostels are also hotspots for other young travellers and therefore great places to meet new people- see the first point. When searching for hostels, hostelworld.com is probably the best way to find a safe and suitable hostel, considering it is largely based on the recommendations and evaluations of the guests and gives you a clear overview of your options.
  • However, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, why not try couch surfing? com offers any traveller the option to get in contact with a local and actually crash on their couch. Although a little more tricky than just booking a room at a hotel, this site could save you a lot of money, so it is definitely worth a try. Beside a place to sleep, hosts often want to hang out or give the grand tour of their city as well (Worth checking out as well are the free walking tours that are sometimes offered. Basically, it is always worth paying a visit to the local tourist centre and, of course, google), another great way to make friends! However, do keep in mind that you can often just be turned down by a host, so make sure you start looking in advance and have a second option to fall back on.
  • Last but not least: find your own ticket. Don’t for a second think about using a site like Cheaptickets to get yourself a plane ticket, because one thing’s for sure: those tickets are not cheap. They load you up with unnecessary costs that are easy to avoid when booking directly with the airline. Instead, find your ticket on sites like Kayak, Skyscanner, or Google Flights. These search engines will show the cheapest options to fly, even if they might nog be the most convenient or luxurious option. They got me a ticket to London for €15 and I’m not saying no to that. Google Flights, for instance, shows the cheapest ticket available for each day and even has the option to explore: name your price and Google shows you every location you could fly to for that price. Anyone up for a spontaneous getaway? It is said that the cheapest day to book is a Tuesday and that the cheapest time to book is about 54 days in advance; whether you judge this to be true is up to you, but it is definitely worth checking the price of your ticket over the span of a few days.
  • Once your flights and beds are booked, there is still a lot that you could save on. If you are a student, for instance, there is usually the perk of student discount. Many museums, shops and other things offer a discount for students, which makes our lives just that little bit easier.
  • Last but not least: don’t take an uber, just take the bus. Public transport is aften a lot cheaper than any taxi, you just have to do some research on the workings of your particular transport system.

These seven tips have made my travels much easier and affordable and I hope they will help you in your travels this summer too!

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