Bonjour! I am currently spending the semester studying abroad in Paris, France. Four months in, and it is undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have ever had. If you go on exchange, you probably want to travel as well but don’t want to break the bank. So, here are a few tips to travel cheaply and easily:
Some people say the best time to book a plane ticket is on the weekend. Others say the best time to book is on a Tuesday. The truth is, the best time to book is as soon as possible! My favourite website is Skyscanner. They include flights from big to budget airlines, always resulting in the best deals. Since the website simply redirects you to the actual airline’s website, there’s no chance that you’re being scammed.
There are awesome features you should look into. First, check out the “Map” option, which allows you to choose a destination and then see a graph of the different prices on different days. The other option is the “Everywhere” destination. Instead of typing in an actual city, simply type in “Everywhere” and Skyscanner will show you the cheapest destinations based on your desired dates.
Hotels or Hostels?
Hotels are always going to be the best option in terms of your peace of mind. Since you don’t have to share the room with strangers and your room is going to be stocked with amenities, there’s no need to worry about a lot of things in hotels. If you stay at a hostel, you’ll need to remember to bring a lot of things such as sandals to shower with, a towel, some soap and a lock for your bags. However, what hostels may lack in safety, cleanliness and amenities, they make up for in character and price. Hostels have a great vibe where you can meet fellow travellers or grab a cheap beer if they have a bar – and don’t forget about the huge savings!
Sacrifices Need to be Made
That 7AM flight to your next destination is $15 cheaper than the one that leaves at 11AM, which means you arrive at your destination earlier and you save money, right? Wrong! Well, you do arrive at your destination earlier, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll save money. You have to keep in mind that you need to somehow get to the airport well before 7AM. A lot of public transportation won’t run that early, so you may end up paying crazy prices for a cab first thing in the morning.
The same kind of situation can occur when you buy a ticket from a budget airline or train that doesn’t land at the city’s main airport or train station. These other airports and train stations are often far from the city centre. Although you save money getting near the city, you still need to find a way to get into the city.
Another example is when you choose where you want to stay. You may save money by staying at a hostel just outside of the city, but getting to and from your hostel can be a pain. It is even worse if you miss the last train or bus back to your hostel!
All in all, budget travelling requires a lot of research and planning. However, if you’re really desperate to get out, do look into last minute deals, especially with trains that want to sell extra seats. Just remember to relax and have a great time!