Chapter 7 - Travel
It doesn't matter how comfy your home is or how peaceful your job might be - everyone needs a holiday from time to time. But when you consider the costs of getting from place to place, staying overnight, seeing the sites, and eating meals, it's easy to get frustrated with travel costs, and it may be tempting to avoid them altogether. Are holidays a pointless splurge we need not bother with? Not necessarily.
We live in a stressful age and should make time to relax whenever possible.
Breaking free of your routine, even for a short weekend retreat, has great potential to bring you into the coming workweek refreshed, relaxed and more productive. If you love to holiday, you can still make it happen while living on a tight budget.
A trip can be exciting without being extravagant. The primary expenses incurred while travelling come from transport, lodging, meals and activities. With those costs in mind, here are a few methods for planning a fun, frugal holiday:
Set a Budget
Before you plan anything else, decide once and for all how much money you are willing to spend on the trip. Don't think in terms of how much you guess it will cost, but rather how much you actually have to spare. The financial plan should dictate the travel plan, not the other way around. Once you have a set amount in mind, you will be able to adjust your itinerary accordingly so you won't overspend. But for now, think of a specific number and write it down as the rigid budget for the holiday.
Choose a Destination
Now that you know your budget, you can start piecing together how much of it you'd like to put towards each of the four main travel expenses (transport, lodging, meals and activities). Begin by choosing a destination.
The cheapest way to go would be a "staycation" in your own hometown or a nearby city. Transport expenses would be minimal, as you could drive your own car or perhaps take public transport. And if you slept at home instead of a hotel, the cost of lodging would be £0.
But even if you'd prefer to get away, just keep in mind how your chosen destination will fit into your budget. Will you be travelling there by air or by rail? Will you be staying at a resort or a hostel? Will you be able to find free things to do or will everything have a high fee attached? You'll be able to splurge in some areas, but you'll have to skimp on others. It's a balancing act, but as long as you prioritise your expenses, things will fall into place.
Plan the Holiday
Finally, map out each day of your holiday. Plan what you will do, where you will eat, where you will sleep, and how much you will spend. Start with the can't-miss items and go from there (a restaurant you've been dying to try? A museum you've never explored?). If you're having trouble fitting everything into the budget, there are lots of ways to cut costs.
- Travel with a large group and share the expenses
- Plan your trip for the off-season
- Search online beforehand for the best currency exchange rates
- Find free things to do at your destination
- Purchase just one souvenir that truly represents your experience, and leave the rest in the gift shop
Dirt-cheap transport tips
- Book your trip as early as possible
- Be flexible with travel dates to take advantage of the cheapest rates
- Sign up for travel memberships and cash in on the rewards points
- Search for the cheapest flights at www.WhichBudget.com
- Take the most cost-effective mode of transport you can find, even if it means taking a different route each way
- Avoid taxis and tourist double-decker busses - take the local transport instead
Lodging for less
- Bid for your hotel rate at a site like www.Priceline.com
- Keep it simple and stay at a hostel
- Plan a trip someplace where you have family or friends and stay with them
- Find a household to host you through a site like www.Couchsurfing
- Get close to nature and stay in a cabin
- Get even closer to nature and pitch a tent
- Cook your own food as often as possible - simple meals you could prepare in a hotel room or on the road
- Instead of going out for dinner, eat out at midday and have the lunch special
- If you're staying in a hotel, keep away from the mini-bar and room service
- Also, never eat in hotel restaurants
- Buy your breakfasts at the grocery store instead of the local cafés
- Carry around a refillable water bottle
July challenge: explore new routes
Believe it or not, transport is the largest monthly expense for people in the UK. We Britons spend about £64.90 per week - or nearly £260 a month - on travel costs alone. That's less than the £242 we spend a month on housing, fuel and power! 2 If you can cut down on travel expenses at all, you'll be saving a bundle over time.
Kick high-priced travel to the kerb this July by switching up your transport routine. Do you generally drive a car everywhere you go? It gets expensive, as you know. You have to pay for petrol, insurance, annual road tax, annual service, emergency maintenance, parking and more. This month, share the costs and the rides by joining a carpool. You could team up with a few co-workers, mates or family members, or register with an online carpooling platform to find friends you haven't met yet. Your monthly petrol costs will soon reduce, and you can put the extra money into your savings.
Another way to cut travel costs would be to take public transport if it's available in your area. From the Tube to National Rail and from busses to trams, there are many alternate ways to travel, some of which may be just as convenient as the means you currently use. On public transport, you can let someone else worry about the commute and simply enjoy the journey. On the other hand, it could also lengthen your trip. But in exchange, your time won't be occupied by focussing on the road, so you can use your commute as a time to relax.
Do you already take the Tube? Up the ante and see if you can ditch public transport altogether. Instead, walk or bike to your destination. If this seems impossible, start small. Choose one day a week to be your eco-friendly day, where you completely avoid railway and motor vehicles. Once you get accustomed to the change, try it twice a week.
However it works best for you, if you look into alternate types of travel than what you're using right now, you'll likely find some ways to save!