Travelling on a budget? Research is key! 

Whilst researching potential travel locations can be tedious at times, it is worth every minute. Time is money and, with research, you will certainly save money.

I would primarily recommend choosing somewhere that interests you after your research. For example, you’d be wasting your time in a landlocked country if you want the beach!

I had read some blogs on travelling, did my research and decided to look towards Eastern Europe as the combination of history, architecture and drinking swayed me.

Latvia | February 2018

I decided to start my journey in the Baltics: my first destination was Latvia. Whilst I did do my own research on budget and history, I also had some recommendations from a friend too, which did influence my decision. I looked at enough photos on top of that to convince myself to overcome my anxiety and get started on my first solo journey. In my experience, I have identified some advice I would give to any new traveller.

Tip One – Use Skyscanner for your flights.

You can view a breakdown of prices to show which months are the cheapest, and as well which days are the cheapest within that month. In the majority of cases, these prices are pretty accurate.

If you are also stuck on where to go, and feel adventurous, you can select “Everywhere” as a filter to see where to go in your chosen date range. I have decided on where to go based upon this filter before – its a great option when you aren’t sure on where to start.

You can also save a lot of money by looking at one-way flights and planning different paths back. For example, when I was coming back from Lithuania, I decided to book a flight from Lithuania to Sweden, then from Sweden to London – it was £50 to go directly from Lithuania or just £16 to take two flights!

Do your research, even if you don’t always get the results you look for, you start getting into the habit of knowing where and when to look.

Tip Two – Accommodation is vital (obviously). I find the best accommodation abroad is a hostel, especially if you decide to solo travel.

A hostel provides a social atmosphere and some memorable experiences. You have choices of different sizes dorms, (usually 4 bed up to 16 beds plus), and you can even get a private dorm if sharing sounds that daunting to you. The more beds in a dorm, the cheaper it is. Another massive positive is that many places offer a female-only dorm option.

Hostelworld is the platform that I use to search for my hostels – they offer easy booking, and some have free cancellation, which seems fairly necessary in these times. You also have the option of calling the hostel to try book with them directly, to save yourself some money as they won’t have to worry about losing fees to another website. Some hostels, depending on how long you visit, even offer volunteering to stay there for free.

Always look at reviews for hostels, their descriptions and make sure it sounds like the right fit for you. You don’t want to be unhappy and trying to sleep at a party hostel if that scene isn’t for you!

Latvia | February 2018

Tip Three – Make a list! Whilst budgeting and saving in advance is up there, you won’t get far without your trusty travel list.

Compile a list of everything you need to bring and check it off. I have forgotten simple things so many times: no matter how much I travel, I always forget things that seem painfully obvious to bring.

When I went to Turkey, for instance, I managed to forget to pack a towel, and suffered throughout the holiday borrowing a microfibre travel towel, which felt awful and was far from ideal! I have also forgotten plug adapters and even some toiletries. Just write a list, and way before time as well. In the build up to your trip, you can add to it.

Tip Four – Look at credit/debit cards where withdrawals are free abroad. This will save you carrying all your week’s cash around with you, or risk leaving it in the hostel.

You can pay by card, and you can withdraw as-and-when you need it with no extra charges (always check your current cards rates!). I use a Halifax Clarity Credit Card which has proved useful time and time again, I just pay back what I have spent the same evening.

Research for credit/debit cards with free withdrawal abroad | iStock

Hopefully you found these travel tips to be useful. Over time, you will develop your own ways to help with travel but these pointers are a good starting place. Always remember one last tip: take the time to step back and appreciate the experience – enjoy yourself!

Thomas Blumberger is a final year BSc Computer Science student, interested in gaming, travelling, and football. You can find him here

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