What girl doesn’t want to take off and jet away with her best friends? Better question: who honestly has the money to live out these elaborate and expensive Instagram travel dreams? For those of us making minimum wage and living in Toronto, our wallets can be kind of tight.
When it comes to travel, there are some money drainers that you can never avoid. However, there are many corners that can be cut without hindering your experiences. Here are some of my favourite secrets…
OFF PEAK SEASONS
The number one reason travelling can be so expensive: everyone wanting to go during the same time of the year. Finding off peak / less touristy seasons is by far the easiest way to save a few extra pennies. In the mindset of travelling Europe, there are three main seasons:
Shoulder Season: Which runs from April through mid June.
Peak Season: Runs roughly from late June through to August.
Off Season: November through March
For many reasons, mostly weather and air temperatures, travelling during off peak season isn’t the most desirable. Finding a way to getaway during shoulder season offers you an experience that is less busy, and a way that you can avoid the high demand timing costs. You’ll also have a better chance at experiences the city culture without being overwhelmed with other tourists.
This one is almost a secret, because it’s amazing how few people know about these. Sometimes airlines offer long stopovers in other destinations en route to your final destination, and often these flight are substantiality cheaper because people look at it as an inconvenience. Finding flights through websites other than an airline directly, including search engines like FlightHub and Kayak, link multiple airline flights together to find the cheapest possible fair, and can sometimes leave you with 24 hours or more in a random European city.
Last year I flew to Paris, and I took a flight that left me with 72 hours in London. Not only was my flight much cheaper than if I were to fly directly to CDG Airport, but I also had the chance to experience 2 cities for the price of one! The only added cost was finding somewhere to sleep for a few nights while I was there, but I ended up saving around $350 on the flight by visiting the UK first, which more than paid for my three days there.
Airlines such as Iceland Air offer flights specifically with layovers in Iceland for up to one week, with no added cost. Searching around until you find a flight to your desired destination, but with a layover city you’ve always been dying to visit gives you the chance to visit 2 great new places for the price of one. Pick your destination, then choose another one!
WHO NEEDS A HOTEL ANYWAYS?
Yes, of course there are so many famous bloggers that stay in the most expensive of places in each unique city they visit, but lodging doesn’t have to break your bank. In fact, you would be shocked by how much money you can save by looking outside of hotels, and more towards shared accommodations. Almost every location in the world has places to stay where you can rent out individual rooms through hostels, or through the homes of the locals that live there.
It’s important to do your research. Finding a safe area and one that’s local to the spots you want to see most in important. Some of where you can find these places include: Hostel World, Hostels.com, and my personal favourite, AirBnB. Finding somewhere to stay during your trip for a fraction of the cost of a hotel is the easiest and most effective way of cutting your trip cost.
Don’t take a cab everywhere you go! Put down the uber app! Instead, download the public transit/metro app before you leave home. Not only will you be saving money by taking local city public transit, you’ll actually get to experience life as a local. You’ll get to live their daily commutes with them.