Wow, long time no blog. With school and work, somehow this passion got away from me. But I’m back and ready to share some more travel tips!
For my college graduation, my boyfriend and I wanted to do a big Europe trip that wouldn’t break the bank. Here’s how we achieved that goal-
- Use incognito tabs
On a mac, Command+shift+n activates an incognito tab on your web browser, which makes it easier to get the best deals on planes/ trains/ hotels since “cookies” (not the good kind) can’t keep track of your searches and allow websites to hike up the price.
- Google flights
We got an INSANE flight deal through Google Flights. By checking online every night (and being flexible with our end destination), we were able to get ROUND TRIP tickets to Europe for $502. No joke. We did have one long layover, but overall it was absolutely worth it even if it wasn’t the most luxurious seats or the best meals, we had snacks and our iPads to get us through.
- Hotels.com or other similar hotel websites
Using booking websites has its pros and cons, and I was skeptical about using it for hotels in other countries. But it worked out beautifully. I specifically used hotels.com because of their rewards program and the site layout. It helped us make sure we were booking places in our ideal locations- be that near a train station or near city centre. And it also helped us get the best deals.
- **Hostels or Airbnb for big groups
Hotels aren’t always the most cost effective places to stay, but as a couple, I found a private room in a hostel sometimes cost as much or even more than a hotel. So if you’re traveling with a larger group, hostels or airbnb are the best option because more people can share a larger space and still spend less. Hotels and bed & breakfasts were just the best option for our situation. But don’t rule those out in your search for places to stay!
- Breakfast Included?
Booking a place that includes breakfasts saves a lot of money in the long run, and if it’s a buffet, bonus points. It helps get the day started earlier since you’re not wandering around in the morning looking for food, and allows you to spend more time doing things you actually want to do.
- Pre-book activities
This tip can be a Catch-22. Buying tickets for activities online will always save you time, even if it doesn’t always save you money. That being said, you can buy bundles online for museums or activities that can save you money, and if you’re already skipping the line, it allows you to do a lot more in a day.
- Pack Carry-On ONLY
Codie and I had a major challenge- packing for 17 days of travel with just a backpack and a carry-on suitcase. This will be where you save the most money because you will not paying $25-$50 each time you get on a plane. We had 2 major lifesavers with this-
- Packing Cubes
We got these amazing packing cubes online, which allowed us to compartmentalize and once we got further into the trip, allowed us to separate clean clothes from dirty (which was an added bonus).
Our hotel in Barcelona was in a more residential neighborhood, meaning we were only a 5-minute walk away from a laundromat and were able to wash our clothes to give them a second life for the second half of our trip. This was way easier and more effective than any bathtub laundry session would’ve been so I absolutely recommend taking a couple hours to do laundry.
- Packing Cubes
- Use Public Transit
Taxis and Uber can be the fastest way to get from A to B, but it’ll cost you. We bought metro passes in every city that made sense and definitely got our money’s worth. In bigger European cities, metro lines run late into the night or all night long, meaning you’ll never be stranded somewhere, on top of it being the most cost-effective option.
- Be flexible
Looking online, you’ll get all sorts of travel options at all different times of day. By being flexible and willing to travel at off-peak times, you’ll be getting the best deal. Sometimes that means leaving earlier (before the morning rush), but often it means leaving a little later. If you’re off to another destination, that can be disappointing and feel like you’re “wasting” time waiting around, but traveling at peak times will definitely have a bigger impact on your wallet.
- Plan Ahead
This was our timeline for booking-
- Flights: 3 months in advance
- Hotels: 2 months in advance
- Planes: 2 months in advance
- Trains: 1 month in advance
- Museums/ Activities: 2 weeks in advance
Booking planes and trains in advance will save you the most money in the long run. Europe has great flight prices, and train tickets usually go up a month in advance, so planning ahead usually gets you the best deal and your ideal time slot.
- Read TripAdvisor reviews
Avoid tourist traps with set menus in English. Yes, they’ll be right next to attractions and therefore more appealing, but you’ll absolutely be paying more. If you have time before you set out for the day, look on trip advisor for restaurants. That way you can venture outside your comfort zone and get a GREAT meal that may be off the beaten path, rather than a subpar meal in a tourist-infested area.
Hopefully these tips were helpful and provided a good starting point for your next trip!
Got any tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!