The Devil Is in the Detail: Pre-departure Preparation
Episode #1 of the course A practical guide for budget travel by Damon Dominique, Joanna Franco, and Alyssa Perrott
Hi, salut, oi, hola, ciao!
We’re Damon and Jo, founders of the multi-lingual, border-defying Shut Up and Go brand, platform, and motto. We started out by making YouTube videos about all things travel and language learning, and now, we have a popular online editorial platform, as well as social media, to engage our community of people who Shut Up and Go! We’re the living proof that it’s possible to marry modest funds with big dreams, to travel the world despite not being featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. At least, not yet.
Over the next ten days, we’re going to help you build your budget travel muscles. From cheap, roach-free accommodation to foreign feasts for five bucks, you’ll shift the way you perceive, plan, and pay for travel. Today, we’re looking at four main ideas you should understand and utilize in the pre-departure planning stage.
Let’s start with the idea of convenience. Convenience is expensive: the most direct flight on the nicest airline with priority boarding. It’s other people doing things for you: a travel agent placing a stapled itinerary in your lap within half an hour.
Convenience is also overrated. We wouldn’t want you to miss the conviviality found between hostel roommates turning on the light every 20 minutes to hunt down a rogue mosquito, or the local street food waiting to be discovered when there’s no mini-bar to rely on.
To successfully navigate a style of travel that is decidedly inconvenient, you’ll also need to …
Be Prepared to Work Hard
It’s up to you to be your own fairy godmother and bippity-boppity-book that trip. Don’t settle for the first result on Google or blindly accept the first price a consultant quotes you. Make full use of the internet:
1. Pick the brains of friends on social media who’ve posted pictures from places you’d love to visit. Looking back, where do they think they could have saved more money?
2. Learn from strangers who have done it before: Personal blogs, guides, and even comments on forums are indispensable.
3. Consult and compare different flight prices (or use a site like Skyscanner, which does that for you).
4. Go incognito on your web browsers: Rumor has it that sites will track cookies on your browsers and only display prices higher than those you’ve already seen.
Compromise Is Key
Now, let’s break down the favorite word of every host of every house-hunting TV show: compromise. Do you see yourself sipping champagne in Monaco or in one of those enormous resorts on a man-made beach in Dubai?
If you answered yes to either of the above, sorry! These fantasies are going to have to wait. Save the traditionally luxurious for retirement (if that’s still a thing by that time), and embrace a budget bucket list to travel consistently.
The easiest way to adopt such an attitude? Break down your travel expectations, both monetary and otherwise. Forget photos you’ve seen on Instagram, and really think about how you want your trip to fulfill you. Are you seeking outdoorsy adventure or language immersion? What superficial things can you give up? Are you traveling for the people or the places? Narrowing in on your expectations will also have you cutting costs.
Let’s say you’re dying to visit northern France. You could cough up a chunk of cash to wriggle your way to Mont-St-Michel as you step over stampedes of tourists, but a cheaper (and cooler) idea would be to catch a regional bus and head a couple of hours west to somewhere like Camaret-Sur-Mer. In five years’ time, it’ll probably be on a “Best Hidden Gems in France” list, anyway!
Take your fantasies and transplant them somewhere else. Immaculate beaches in the Maldives? Find them in Thailand for half the price. Craving a winter wonderland but can’t cover the cost of anything in Switzerland? Head to Poland!
The same goes for timing. Off-peak travel has been gaining appeal over the last few years, with 79% of Americans surveyed by Qantas open to traveling during the winter time. Heading off in the low season is always cheaper, so consider hitting up London in November instead of July. Plus, you’ll avoid the hordes of tourists and selfie sticks. Opt for a winter in Santorini, and you’ll have a stunning Greek island practically to yourself. We did Thailand during monsoon season, and the beaches were still gorgeous, even with a few refreshing morning showers.
It’s also important to be creative in how you delegate your time. If you’re in Australia, for example, pack a busy two days in Sydney—the most expensive city—and then spend a week road-tripping along the eastern coastline up to Brisbane. Little, creative changes like this will see you saving big time and bigger money.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of putting these overarching concepts into practice, tomorrow, we can get specific, starting with transport tricks. See you in 24 hours!
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