By now, you’ve used Skyscanner to check out all the amazing new places you can travel to that are well within your budget, whats the next step I hear you ask?
Research, research, research.
The first thing you need to do is refine your budget and work out what is realistic for you and how long you want to stay for. You may have found flights to Dubai for £200 return for a week, but they’re not much use to you if your budget for the whole trip is £400 and you only have 4 days holiday left. By the time you have paid for your accommodation you won’t have anything left for spends. Now, I know I’m trying to sell budget travel to you, but you also have to be realistic, its all relative, the more of an up-market place you visit, the more it will cost and no matter how cheap you make it, you’ve still got to eat as a minimum.
You’ve ruled out the places you cant quite afford yet, so now its time to dwindle the list down even further. Where do you really want to go? Where has the most interesting places to see? Where has the most culture? The most history?
This is where for me, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, twitter and blogs come into it. I look into each place and scroll through the pictures that the many before me have kindly uploaded so I can have a sneak peek before I make my decision! Have a browse through all of these platforms, speak to friends and family who may have been and gather their opinions. By now, one destination should be standing out to you more than most. The next step is to delve into the finer details.
So you’ve decided where you fancy visiting, now its time to decide where you’re going to stay.
I have 2 main go-to options for accommodation, apart from the van of course! I use Booking.com and Air B&B mainly because they pride themselves on people leaving reviews, all reviews are visible online and are left by travellers like yourself.
Booking.com – This is mainly hotels, B&B’s or Hostels. All you need to do is fill in your destination, dates of travel and number of travellers. The search can be filtered in lots of different ways such as price ascending, descending, number of stars, reviewers scores and distance from the City Centre. There is also a map view of the hotels offered just incase there was a certain location you wanted to stay close to. A lot of Booking.com’s hotels have free cancellation up until the week before, which I think is great, you can find something you like and reserve it, this allows you the opportunity to keep checking back for even better deals or something which may be more suited to you that you can swap to. Just remember to cancel the previous one before you’re charged for 2!
Air B&B – This tends to be focused around spare rooms, apartments and houses. Again, all reviews are visible for you to look at and the houses are star rated based upon those reviews. You can search by distance from a certain landmark or city centre and all of the prices are displayed clearly. Usually, once you have booked with Air B&B, the owner will be in touch with you letting you know how to collect the keys and any codes needed for entry. This is usually as much interaction with the host as you will receive but I have found, if you ever have any questions about the area or sight seeing they’re more than happy to help!
My final little nugget of accommodation advice, you’re going away to explore a new place and experience a new culture, you’re only sleeping in your hotel room, so long as its basic and clean theres nothing else you need!
You now know where you want to go, how much the flights cost and how much your accommodation will be. Hopefully, this is still all within your budget!
Food, drink, entertainment
The final thing I would check to ensure I am still well within my budget is the approximate cost for food, drink and travel around the city.
Theres a really good site which tends to pop up in most of my searches of ‘Prices in….’. Its called Numbeo. Numbeo breaks down costs into different categories, for example, restaurants, drinks, markets and transportation. Numbeo also goes into more detail for people potentially thinking of staying there for longer periods of time, for example, Rent, utilities and clothing.
I usually base my days on an inexpensive breakfast, inexpensive lunch, a mid range dinner with a glass of wine or beer and a bus or train day ticket. I then times this by the number of days I’m staying and add 20% just to make sure I have enough.
It’s always a good idea to book any sight seeing in advance if you need to pay as this lowers the actual spend whilst you’re there, it also helps you structure your day better, which I will go into in a later post.
I’m going to put this theory to the test this weekend as I am taking a trip to Budapest. I will upload my calculations tomorrow along with the reality once I am home!
Please click here for my previous post on Skyscanner