(Photo from : crohnsandcolitis.org)
As students it’s more than likely your time away from university is going to be spent travelling in some way, may it be around the country, around Europe or around the world. However with a weak pound and constant rising prices squeezing our budgets even tighter it may be hard sometimes to have the travelling adventures that we dream about. Having had the pleasure of spending some time exploring Thailand this summer here are a few tips that I found to help stretch your money that little bit extra.
First things first if you you’re planning on getting as far away from England as possible you need to find some cheap flights. It’s important to be flexible when choosing when and where to fly from because direct flights in peak times are obviously going to be more expensive. Try to stay away from flying on Fridays or Sundays, a safer bet is to try and pick a Tuesday or a Wednesday as these tend to be a lot less busy and cheaper. You should also keep in mind that booking flights too early or too late can also have a massive impact on the price. Somewhere between 2 and 3 months seems to be the best time for booking flights, anything below or above can be greatly inflated. Then of course it is worth using sites such as www.skyscanner.net which compares the best prices for you, but keep in mind if you’re flying cheap there may be hidden costs. Try to prepare for this so you don’t get a shock at the airport when they try to charge you an extra £30 for checking in at the airport instead of online.
With accommodation it depends what your limits are when it comes to staying in run down hostels. I can tell you from personal experience that staying in a tiny room with six other people and no air condition in 35 °C plus temperatures is not the greatest moment in my life. However for little than two pounds a night what can you expect. Although it may not always be easy to plan in advance it is defiantly worth it as arriving in an unfamiliar place after a long day of travelling it is all too easy to just except the first place that you find. Hostelworld.com is a great way to find cheap hostels and with people leaving reviews you know exactly what you are going to get and what to prepare yourself for. It’s probably a good idea to try and book two days in advance at least and give yourself the time to shop around a bit. Also recommendations go a long way, talk to the people you meet in hostels because its more than likely you’ll find someone who’s been to the same place you are going to next. They can advise you the best places to go as well as the ones to avoid at all costs.
Try to avoid the touristy restaurants as much as possible, although it’s easy to get drawn in to English words and readable menus, the prices will be a lot lower at more traditional places. Not only do you get a more authentic and cheaper experience you’ll often find that your custom is more appreciated. Also try to do some research on the local dishes and specialities because if you know what you are looking for then it’s a lot easier to find the best prices. If you’re travelling for an extended period then finding accommodation with a kitchen is way more cost effective. Local markets are a great way to pick up cheap food that you can cook for yourself.
If you’re going to tourist hotspots then it is inevitable that you will be bombarded with tour guides offering to take you to places for the cheapest prices. Although they may look like good deals it’s always best to do your research first. When arriving at a new place I liked to take a day or so to explore myself and through this it’s easy to take note of all the different tours and prices. If you take a notebook with you then it’s not hard to compare them all when you get back to your hostel instead of rushing in to anything. Also don’t be conned into to taking a tour when it’s possible to do it yourself. Busses can defiantly be confusing in different countries but it’s always useful to pick up a guide book before you start travelling that can help you make sense of them. Lonely planet do a range of guide books that give in depth details about places including bus routes and tours.
By Shona Augustinus