Episode #2 of the course A practical guide for budget travel by Damon Dominique, Joanna Franco, and Alyssa Perrott
Yesterday, we looked at preparing for your trip and choosing a destination. Today, we’re delving into how you can 1) get to said destination and 2) move around once you arrive, without the burden of a financial headache.
Firstly, let’s look at how to approach air travel. It’s a complicated and pricey industry, but a necessary beast to tackle.
Set up price alerts. Want to get the cheapest ticket but don’t have time to be staring at your computer for flight updates? Set up price alerts on different travel sites. Skyscanner is our personal favorite, but Hopper and Airfare Watchdog offer the same service, free of charge. Once you hear that email notification, be ready to book.
Create your own flight plans. Is that flight from New York to Bangkok too expensive? Make your own connecting flights with a day or two as a layover—you could save $300 and check a new country off your list along the way.
Be flexible with your dates. The traditional order of booking a trip sees you choose your dates and then reserve a corresponding flight. Consider switching this around to ensure you’re putting your best (ahem, cheapest) foot forward. On sites like Skyscanner, you can view daily and monthly prices in a calendar format. If you’re tossing and turning over when to shut up and go, starting with a flight deal and spring-boarding off that date could be your answer.
Airport to City Centers
Too many people become lazy upon arrival in a new city, and rely on Ubers and taxis for day-to-day travel. A better move is to think like a local.
Most airports offer public transportation for a fraction of the price. Ask the information desk how locals get home—it might be a bus, train, shuttle, metro line … You’ll be surprised how much cheaper and easier it is than what you’d expect.
Let’s do some quick math: You could get an Uber from San Francisco airport to the heart of the city for $40, or the BART train for $9.65. No need to be a genius to picture the meals you could buy with that extra 30 bucks!
The first step to moving around your destination is to download a city map and start familiarizing yourself. We always say you haven’t really seen Paris or New York until you’ve seen (and uh, smelled) the metro. What better way to get to know a new location than by putting yourself in the shoes of the people who commute across it every day?
Rental Cars Aren’t Out of the Question
If your personal travel situation isn’t crowded-metro compatible, there are car rental options you probably haven’t even heard of—until now!
Turo is an app that allows you to rent the car of a local in over 5,500 cities. It makes sure both the driver and car owner leave reviews for one another, just like with other community-based apps. Most of the rental companies who list their cars on Turo are conveniently located in major airports, which means once you fly in, you get your hot wheels right away. You’ll be zippin’ down the PCH in a drop top for less than $30/a day in no time.
Have a car that you’re going to ditch on a trip? Rent it on Turo as a way to make some passive cash while you’re abroad living your best life.
Alternative Modes of Transport
Let’s say that you’re considering buying a relatively expensive train ticket from Berlin to Geneva or Marseille to Barcelona. It’ll be quick and convenient, yes, but remember, that’s not our style. Bus travel is an alternative and sorely underrated mode of transportation. In 2016, coach trips made up only 5.7% of land transportation for EU residents undertaking domestic travel. This means prices are consistently much lower than train and plane tickets—think 25 euros for a bus from Paris to London (Eurostar prices start at three times that price!). Companies like Flixbus for Europe and Megabus and Greyhound in the US offer free Wi-Fi, reclining seats, and power sockets to charge your personal electronics.
And don’t forget BlaBlaCar, which allows you to book a seat in the car of someone who is driving to your destination. You could make a local friend while belting out “Like a Prayer” from Bordeaux to Brittany for $40!
Tomorrow, we’ll be running through how to track down safe (and roach-free) beds to sleep in while navigating the world of budget travel. Stay tuned!
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