Times when only rich people were able to afford travelling has passed. Nowadays one can travel to another country even with 100 Euros in the pocket. Thanks to low-cost airlines that provide cheap flights and various online services, that offer you the best option fitting to your budget.
Being a student I used to travel a lot. Even though I didn’t have any proper job and had almost no money. But I had time, and that’s one of the main thing for low budget travel. Remember: you should be flexible. Both in time and destinations. As the most expensive rates are usually on the weekends. And the cheapest tickets usually do not lead to your dream destination. But it also depends. Remember the second rule: follow air/bus companies sales and check various travel options. If the price for direct flight is too high, look at another closest airport. You should be creative sometimes.
These are the basics of how to reduce the costs of your trip. The more you travel the more hints you discover by your own. Sounds lovely, right? But there is also the dark side of this type of travels. And they are definitely not for everyone.
Four years ago my friend and I travelled around western Europe. In 3 weeks we visited Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. And all in all we have spend nearly 250 euros each. Including food, transportation and accommodation.
- We travelled by bus or by hitchhiking – in the last case you don’t pay anything for getting from point A to point B.
- We didn’t eat in cafes or restaurants. Not even at McDonalds’s. Instead we bought some food in the supermarkets. McDonalds’s were used for free wifi, toilet and eating our own food.
- For the nights we stayed by couchsurfing. This is a traveler’s social network, where you could be hosted for free.
All these let us save money. And in general the trip was unforgettable! We got lots of impressions and experiences. We met many great and interesting people on the way. We saw the life in Europe as it is, not as a facade for tourists. We grew up in this trip, starving from cold at the gas stations, getting unexpected support from strangers, making right and wrong decisions every day.
But at the same time we missed many other things.
We didn’t enter Notre Dame and Eiffel tower – was too expensive. We didn’t try various belgium beers – too expensive. We didn’t go clubbing in Berlin – too expensive. Sometimes we didn’t pay for public transport – guess why? – exactly: 3 Euros per ride was too expensive for us. And due to that we lost some of our nerves, worrying if the controllers were coming. I definitely can’t recommend such an experience to anyone.
We could not afford neither museums in Amsterdam, nor beer at Oktoberfest in Munich. Yes, we’ve been there and saw the atmosphere, but were excluded from the others. Some doors were simply closed to us.
And here comes the question: does it really worth it?
Maybe it’s better to earn and save money first to afford normal tickets, comfortable hotel and proper food. To be free not to count every coin and depend on the will of the other people (drivers, couchsurfers). As sometimes we had to change our route or had to waste time waiting for the host to come back from work.
Meeting and getting to know many foreigners is amazing, but after 2 weeks one could feel that it’s too much. You don’t pay with money, but you pay with your energy and your time. And sometimes it’s more precious.
Nowadays, being not a student anymore and being also not so young anymore, I could not imagine myself in such a crazy tour. But between saving money and seeing new countries I will again choose travel. A bit more comfy, but still. Museums, cathedrals and local cuisine have stayed and will stay the same for years. Except for Notre Damm, unfortunately. But you will not be that young and crazy again.
Yet again: there are only low budget travels that let you dive into life on another country, explore not only sightseeing, but also yourself and your travel partner. And it’s beyond the price.
This year I was sitting in Warsaw, being upset that I can’t buy whatever I want and have to stay not in the hostel I like, but where I can afford. Next day I supposed to be in Copenhagen, which is known as one of the most expensive travel destinations. And I frustrated and thought if there is any sense in visiting that city then. But next morning I was sitting by the waterfront, next to the little mermaid. And while others listened to the guide, made pictures, I had my small breakfast, enjoying the sea view, breathing in the salty air, feeling the sunlight on my face. And the only though I had was what the stupid thing had I yesterday of not visiting Copenhagen. Traveling is about emotions and feeling, not the places itself.
To sum it up: if you ever thought of travelling but then the sneaky doubts were whispering that you can’t afford it – don’t listen to. Just decide, what do you want to get from visiting another country and made a wise solution to do or not to do.
Decided for “to do”? Here are some useful websites:
- Couchsurfing – find a local person to show you around and a place to stay over night. Yes, for free.
- Busradar – this website shows all suitable and cheapest ways to get from point A to point B by bus, train, plane and blablacar.
- Hitchwiki – wikipedia for hitchhikers, that contains all the useful information about best spots on the road and the roads out and in the cities as well.
- Momondo/Skyscanner – best websites to choose cheapest air tickets. Pick “travel to everywhere” to see the best offers where you could go to from your airport.