Guide on How to Plan a Cheaper Trip
Planning a Trip
Have you finally gotten the time off to take a trip, but you want to travel cheaper? Or perhaps, the process of booking and planning a trip seems very daunting to you? These are problems most travellers will come across at some point in their adventures. As someone who has spent time travelling and trying to save money, I have come up with a couple of recommendations worth sharing for those trying to do the same.
Here, I will show you my step-by-step guide for travelling cheaper. From booking transportation and accommodation to actually planning activities to do during your stay, I have recommendations that will surely save you some money.
In this guide, you will also find all of my favourite companies that I personally use and recommend. Let’s get right into it!
Many times the most difficult task is to find cheap transportation to your destination, especially if you are not flexible with your dates. Do you know the dates when you can travel? Are they still decently far out? If so, book your transport as early as you can!
Taking a Flight
Trying to find cheap flights brings many of us constant headaches. But it is not an impossible task to do.
I recommend checking the flights at least two to three months in advance. For European flights, make it even five to six months before.
The practice that works the best for me is searching first through Skyscanner, which covers most of the big flight companies. Another great search engine is Momondo, or you can try Kayak. Many sites will have “price trackers” and will indicate if the prices you are seeing are lower, average or higher than usual.
When you find your price, continue directly to the website of the company. Sometimes the final price is even a few euros (or whatever currency you’re using) cheaper there.
Taking a flight is one of the best kinds of transportation, fast and comfortable.
Travelling by Bus
Buses are not the most comfortable kind of transportation, but in many cases, they are the cheapest ones. That was one of the reasons why I chose buses as my main kind of transportation for my trip to Balkans.
Busradar is my go-to tool for finding the best prices, as well as busbud.
Flixbus is one of my most used companies in Europe. The buses are usually new, comfortable and offer free Wi-Fi, but tend to be a bit late. On the other hand, you can sometimes find tickets for as low as 1€.
Since I live in Spain, for trips inside the country, I use Alsa a lot here, as they offer cheap tickets if you book well in advance.
Yes, it is true, I don’t like that much taking a bus. And much less an overnight one. But it is a great way to save money.
Where to Find Train Tickets
Even though it’s not my most used kind of transportation, it’s the mode I prefer. Trains are comfortable, faster than buses and give you more freedom to roam around.
Train tickets in Europe can be easily found on Rail Europe. If you are going to move a lot by trains, consider buying a Eurail pass. I recommend it mostly in expensive countries like France, Germany or Switzerland, as it can end up saving you hundreds of euros.
To know more about international train routes and information, I recommend going to The Man in Seat 61. It is the ultimate guide for worldwide train travelling, with prices, timetables and tips and tricks.
One of the things that ends up digging deep into our wallets while travelling is paying for accommodation. Everyone needs to sleep somewhere, but you don’t need to overpay for the roof over your head. Or, you don’t even need to pay at all!
Thanks to Booking I found an accommodation with these views for a great price.
Where to Search for Hotels and Hostels
As for hotels and hostels in Europe, I use, usually as both a first and a last resort, Booking.com. They have the most offers for cheap accommodation, including one and two stars hotels. Take advantage of their Genius feature and save up to ten to 15 per cent on where you’re staying.
The best thing is that to become a Genius member, you just need to book accommodation through Booking a few times. It’s free to sign up, and the more you use the feature, the more perks you’ll get. There are multiple levels with different rewards available at each. They also offer a great property referral program.
Finding an Apartment
Don’t you like hotels? Many times, I also prefer the comfort of a house. To find one, choose between Booking and Airbnb, as they both have a wide variety of apartments. Prices can differ from one to the other, at one point being cheaper on Booking, other time on Airbnb.
Search on both and compare until you find a place for a price you like. Personally, I’ve used Booking more over the years, but lately, Airbnb has broadened its offerings and has often become the tool I’ve used.
Couchsurfing With Locals
If you don’t want to pay for the housing at all and want to meet locals, use Couchsurfing. It makes for a great experience, as hosts tend to also show you around the place you stay.
I’ve met very kind people of different cultures thanks to Couchsurfing, so I highly recommend you to try it.
Do you need to move from one place to another during your trip? Another good strategy, even though not a long-term one, is to book an overnight transportation. You’ll cover the costs of accommodation and transportation all in one.
Things to Do
No, I will not just smash you in the face with what seems to be the obvious answer: search on TripAdvisor. Not at all. I’ve used it a lot over the years, but nowadays, I rarely even make time to do quick research there.
Instead, I recommend you check articles of fellow travel bloggers, especially local ones. Many focus on specific countries/places and offer detailed online guides. You can also search social media like Instagram or TikTok for recommendations for advice on what to do from locals and fellow travellers.
Some people don’t consider bloggers trustworthy. If you are one of them and want more objective insight, look for travel guides on Lonely Planet.
Don’t Waste Money, Do Free Stuff!
What is cheaper than something for free? One of the first things you should always do while planning a cheaper trip is to search for free things to do. There are plenty of interesting activities to choose from!
Another great way to get to know the place you’re visiting while saving money is to go on a free walking tour. In almost every bigger or touristy city you can find at least one. Remember that even if it’s called free, it’s a custom to tip the guide at the end of the tour. Still, it’s much cheaper, and you’ll get to see the city with the guidance of someone who really knows it and who can answer your questions!
Places to Eat and Drink
One of my favorite things to do while travelling is try local food. To find good local restaurants with good prices, follow the same strategy and search on travel and food blogs. There are tons of information online!
Try to avoid places close to the main square of the city; they tend to be of poorer quality and charge you more. Instead, wander a few streets away and see where locals are going. Locals are not tourists and don’t fall into the same trap. Also, they don’t want to spend a lot of money on bad food.
Another great source is, of course, Instagram and Pinterest. People love to share with everyone the great places they’ve found. Nothing is a secret anymore, and you’ll likely get a nice, high-quality look at what’s on the menu or direct commentary on if it’s worth trying out.
I hope that thanks to my guide, you will not overpay for your next trip and will find it easier to handle all the planning!
If you plan your trip well, you can find places to eat delicious food for a good price.