By Tanya Mwamuka.
Summer has finally hit and for once the UK seems to be getting that good weather, which is usually unequally distributed in the Mediterranean. If you live by the coast, maybe if you close your eyes you can imagine that you’re somewhere that’s not boring Britain; but let’s be honest though, Skegness isn’t quite Sicily. If you’re a broke student like me or just hate spending ridiculous amounts of money on holiday’s you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a little insight on how to feed your travel addiction, without breaking the bank.
If the name scares you then so will these incredibly low prices. Once you get passed the dodgy sounding title, you’ll be planning holidays every month because everything is just so cheap.
Don’t you worry this isn’t a scam, I’ve booked a few holidays myself and can reassuringly say I’ve had nothing but good experiences each time. HolidayPirates works by finding the lowest deals on package holidays, flights and hotels. The deals don’t stop there, they run numerous competitions on a weekly basis, as if this couldn’t sound anymore unreal.
So, what’s the catch then, I hear you say? Nothing really … you just must be flexible. Most of these cheap deals run on certain dates, and whilst you may still be able book on your prefered dates-be prepared for the price to shoot up. Playing around with the dates isn’t always bad as most of the time the restrictions aren’t so bad and prices tend to stay relatively the same. My top tip is avoiding the school holidays, and stick to their suggested dates and you’ve got yourself a winner.
2. Au Pairing
This may be one of the best ways to travel with minimal spending on your part. Au Pairing is basically babysitting in a foreign country, but with free food, free accommodation and you get paid. Yes, the babysitting bit sounds like a drag but there’s ways around it. As you read this I myself am taking part in this in the beautiful city of Madrid. I work from 9-2 (if you can even call it work) my main role is speaking to the children in English. Many Au pair gigs hardly require major babysitting so if you’re not keen on spending 24hrs with a 3 year old, search for a family who require you more as an English teacher than a nanny. I organised my stay through www.aupairworld.com; all I had to do was make a profile, set my prefered location and home duties and watched as the messages of interest flooded in. This is probably my most favourite method of budget travel. Check out Youtuber Sasha Marie Marshall, who talks about her experience and how she set up her aupair exchange.
When it comes to flights I’m always frequenting on Skyscanner. When looking for the cheapest flights there’s no better place. The website searches hundreds of websites for the cheapest flights for your specified destination. One general rule when looking for cheaper flights though is to stay away from the weekend and popular times such as school holidays.
The question of where to stay often presents as the most expensive part of the holiday. Whilst you can get cheap flights to European destinations for under £60, the hotel in the city centre may be £50 a night (if you’re lucky). This is why I never book with a hotel unless it comes in a package deal.
Historically, hostels have gotten nothing but a negative reputation. A festering ground for hippie dippy individuals talking about the meaning of life, dirty shared bathrooms, and those odd sounds coming from the bunk bed next to yours. I don’t doubt that all of that is very true for low standard hostels, but the hostels I’ve stayed in have been the polar opposite to this nightmare. More often than not, hostels are as clean as those over priced hotels people insist on splashing their money on.
In Europe they may still be a little on the pricey side – ranging from £20-£30 a night, but on your trip to Asia you’ll be shocked to find them for less than £10 and still at the same standard. Sharing accommodation does have its perks – especially as a solo traveller. Hostels are a very social atmosphere and a great way to meet new people. But, if you really are against sharing then book yourself a private room and get the best of both worlds; privacy and cleanliness but also the social atmosphere of the hostel common room.
5. Couch Surfing
Firstly, you must erase the image of a “wife beater” wearing man lying on his sofa watching Jezza Kyle. Replace it with free accommodation and a local guide and you’re spot on. Couch surfing is when you temporarily stay in other people’s homes, typically for free. This isn’t for everyone for obvious reasons; staying in a random person’s house doesn’t necessarily sound like the safest option, but an option it certainly is. If you’re reluctant then maybe stick with a hostel or have a go when you’re not travelling solo and you have another person to help you fight your potentially murderous host (kidding). Check out www.couchsurfing.com for more information on getting free accommodation or if you fancy hosting instead.
My trip to Iceland was made significantly cheaper by avoiding the hotel route. Airbnb has a similar concept to couch surfing (minus the free part). This time you pay to stay in someone’s house, with your mind at ease knowing that the owner of the house isn’t staying with you. They either stay somewhere else during your stay or live in separate quarters of the building you’re renting at the time. For a solo traveller, a hostel is more often cheaper but if you’re travelling in a group, large savings can be made. If the host allows more people than the bed space allows; for example, you could book an Airbnb that sleeps 4 but have a group of 6, so 3 share a bed rather than 2 with the 4-bed accommodation is likely cheaper than a 6 bed. Yes, this might not be the most comfortable but when you’re working on tight budgets sacrifices must be made. For 6 days in Reykjavik between 6 of us it cost us a reasonable £100 for accommodation (£20 per night).
Finally, for an added bonus on making savings I suggest watching the “budgeteers” a youtube channel dedicated on budget travel – hense the name. They were were probably one of my main inspirations to travel and really show that travel doesn’t cost a fortune.
Tanya is currently studying Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester and hopes to pursue a career in science communication, media and African development. She is a lover of fashion, travelling and has a keen interest in racial-social issues. She enjoys learning languages, being fluent in two and is currently adding French to her resume.