So I love to travel and one of the main reasons I am able to travel so much is because I do it on the cheap. Now I’m not talking so cheap that you are afraid you’ll catch something staying in the hotels or staying in the parts of town that homicide rates are so high you have a better chance of being murdered than not but I do like cheap and cheerful hotels.
When choosing a hotel I look at four main things 1) Price 2) Location 3) Does it have wifi 4) Others reviews. For me the hotel is usually just somewhere to sleep and get washed. I don’t spend a lot of time in the hotel if I can help it so as long as it’s clean, the towels are replaced and I’ve wifi I’m good to go. When I am travelling alone or without Miss M i don’t mind staying in a hostel because it’s cheap. But more on this below.
My favourite site to check prices on is http://www.Trivago.ie because you can sort by price. There is also an option to put in what landmark you would like to stay near and then the hotels are sorted by distance. I have gotten some great deals on this site (€20 for a double room in a surprisingly fancy hotel in Galway for the night) and I use it all the time. It also will compare which is the cheapest site to book it through and give you options. I will however always check the hotel website directly as well once I’ve decided on a room to see if there are any special promotions (we have gotten pay for two nights stay for three and free meals offers) which may seem more expensive compared to the price on Trivago but once you weigh up the offers usually end up costing less in the long run.
A hotel without wifi is something I couldn’t deal with to be honest, call me an entitled millennial all you like but seriously it’s a deal breaker for me. I don’t spend the whole time using the internet but having it there (to check local attractions opening hours, to FaceTime and to contact those at home) is a must for me.
Others reviews are something that you need to take with a pinch of salt. Those that have complaints are going to be the ones that shout louder and are the ones you are going to remember. If a hotel has fifty 5 Star reviews and three 2 Star reviews you are going to remember the 2 Star ones more. I always use TripAdvisor for my review purposes. When I write reviews I am as honest as possible without sugar-coating it (in fact one of my most honest reviews where I said “if you are looking for a luxury hotel then this hotel is not for you” earned me a free 2 night stay). Read recent reviews the good and the bad and compare from the points made in each review. I find if I set my expectations somewhere in the middle when it comes to the hotel I am rarely disappointed.
If you are ok with staying in somebody’s house then airbnb.com is an option as well to help save money. Personally my anxiety stops me from using it (knowing my luck they will be the satanic axe murderers) but I have friends who have and love it. For hostels www.hostelworld.com is also a great site for finding hostel accommodations and I would recommend any of them I have stayed in. Also if staying for a long period of time (more than a week) sometimes a short-term rental apartment or villa can work out cheaper and will also allow you to cook meals etc. It’s mostly about personal preference and how you like to travel.
Now to my favourite site when it comes to travel http://www.skyscanner.ie (I seriously spend time searching this site more than I care to admit) Basically the way it works is you enter where you want to go on what dates and it compares airlines and gives you the cheapest options. You can then narrow them down by number of stops, total travel time etc. When it comes to flying if I have a lot of time I don’t mind doing stop overs (within reason, anything longer than 4 hours and it’s a no go). When travelling to the USA or outside Europe I count the first and last day off as travelling days and don’t plan anything important on those days so I find that if stopping in Chicago or Atlanta is going to save me money then I’ll do it. But when it comes to flying within Europe my strategy is direct and early out, direct and latest flight home. I have gotten flights on this site for ridiculously cheap (19.99 return to Manchester for example) but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: My favourite thing to do is set the search parameters to From: Ireland To: Everywhere and select cheapest month as the date option. It will list which flights are the cheapest (just did it there and you can fly to Birmingham in November for €16 or if you’re feeling more exotic Barcelona for €37 or Boston in January for €356) It is my favourite thing to do because honestly I don’t care where I travel so long as I travel. Just make sure that you read all details of the flight before you book as there are things like arriving the following day flights or changing airports for connections etc which if you don’t know about can really mess you up.
Here are just general tips that don’t fall into any category but are general thrifty (new word I’m going to use to replace cheap) ideas.
- Book a shuttle or shared transfer from your airport to hotel (www.hoppa.com is who I always use) instead of a taxi as it usually works out cheaper.
- Don’t pay extra to check a bag on a short trip (I have managed this successfully once)
- Look out for kids eat free offers which most cities have.
- Groupon is your friend for things to do and places to eat. Just search the destination you are travelling to for the local Groupon offers and book away.
- There are always lots of local free museums etc that you can visit a quick google search of (free things to do in (insert city here) will bring up what you need to know)
- Bus and rail travel can in some cases be cheaper alternatives to flights (but not always so do your research)
- Don’t bring gifts home. I travel so much I don’t do gifts for everybody because that magnet from Florida is going to have no significance to the person who wasn’t actually with you in Florida. The exception to this is the kids usually (but not always) I will bring them home gifts.
- If travelling outside of college season there can be cheap rooms in the University dorms (especially in the UK) for rent that are usually cheap and cheerful.
- When booking something local try to book in the local currency if possible. Due to exchange rates it could end up costing you more.
- If you’re Irish and need Dollars or Sterling then get it changed in the Post Office. No exchange fees and a better rate than Dublin Airport.
- Last but not least pack some snacks in your carry on (especially if you are flying Ryanair) it helps with food bills and you’re not paying colossal amounts for airline food which usually sucks.
Well that’s it for this post. What are your favourite travel tips? What sites do you use? I hope you find some of this useful when booking your next trip.
Until next time, Let your gypsy soul wander.