Tips & Treasures
Ways to make your money stretch
- Be flexible
This for me was the biggest lesson I learned. If you can stay open to departure and arrival dates and even locations you may fly into, it could end up saving quite a bit of money. For example, of the airlines I’ve traveled with(Ryanair is one of the budget airlines in Europe) most have much cheaper rates flying on a Tuesday, rather than a Friday or Saturday. Also, websites such as skyscanner will let you view a range of dates so you can see when the cheapest time to fly is and compare multiple sites at the same time.
- Hostels and Guest Houses
Now I know this might bring flashbacks of dorm life, or even pyscho people chasing you around trying to kill you, but there are actually many places I’ve stayed that have private rooms and guest apartments which are way nicer then staying in some sleazy hotel. When traveling with my dad around Europe, we had the savings of a hostel but didn’t have to put up with the snoring (well I still did thanks to my dad.) Many times we had a kitchen and even our own washer and dryer. My favorite sites (which come with pictures and reviews are hostelworld and hostelbookers and also list the private guest houses and some Bed and Breakfast hotels in the areas. On a side note, if you are really stretched for money, some hostels may even let you clean or help out in exchange for accommodation. It never hurts to ask! In Eastern europe, look for signs around town for private rooms (in the local language of course.) I rented my own apartment in Montenegro for ten euro a day, when the cheapest hotel room was more than 60 per day in the off season. Depending where you are, sometimes they will even come find you in bus and train stations around town.
Alright, so some people have mixed feelings on this. How can a perfectly good stranger let you into their house and not ask for anything in return? Well check out the website and see for yourself. It’s a growing community based on trust and donations, and I’ve met some great people from it. When I was in Holland I had my wallet stolen on the way to a couchsurfing event. I ended up staying for a week in Belgium (just over the border) with some fellow couchsurfers I met at the party while I was getting my banking details and life sorted out again. If you aren’t comfortable with a perfect stranger, the events are a great way to meet people first so you aren’t going into the situation blind, and you also get a much more cultural experience hanging out with some of the locals.
- Friends & family
I’ve been blessed to keep meeting people and making connections all over the world and the more I travel the easier it becomes. I’ve stayed in touch, and ended up staying with people from back home now living overseas, as well as people I’ve met on the road.
Do you have some distant relatives somewhere in the world who might be excited to finally meet you? I found relatives in Poland, who although were poor as church mice, opened their home and their fridge to me and my dad (I’m not kidding, despite our protests they wouldn’t stop trying to feed us!) Make sure to have something to give in return (even something that you may have picked up traveling) to thank them for their generosity. Remember to always be grateful, and never have any expectations. Be open to the experience!
- Travel Light
It’s hard sometimes to know exactly what to have when you are on the road,but believe me, simplicity is better. It will save money on baggage fees if you plan on moving around very far, and it’s much easier to keep an eye on all of your stuff. Girls, leave the hairdryer at home (most hotels and even hostels have them to use for free or a small deposit if you really need to get dolled up one night.) As far as perfumes and makeup, collect some trial sizes from cosmetic and perfume counters before you leave home (they are much smaller and compact and don’t add much extra weight.