As you’re reading this I’m in Milan. I’m not supposed to be, I’m meant to be at my desk working. Not in (the worst) hotel in Milan! But I’ll explain why later this week. My love of travel is pretty well documented on all social platforms. The need to experience new places, cultures and everything that comes with that has stuck with me since I started working at Wedding magazine. Flying around the world on fashion photoshoots with a group of (near) strangers and a new model arriving in our rented house every day gave me the travel bug big time. Since then I’ve made it a priority to travel more. That combined with starting a life with someone who holds travel in as high regard as me has led to some pretty amazing trips over the years.
Although I travel a lot for work, we’ve made a conscious effort to try and scale it back temporarily while we concentrate on house renovations and wedding plans. But it doesn’t stop that one question we’re met with at every social gathering. “Where are you off to next?” Swiftly followed by “you two are always away”. Although travel is often deemed a luxury, reserved only for that big summer holiday, there are lots of ways we can travel more without breaking the bank. The warmer weather may be over but there’s no reason why you can’t grab your passport and have an adventure now the crowds have dispersed. And here’s how.
USE YOUR SKILLS
A lot of our trips are centred around my writing and there’s no reason why you can’t use your skills to barter hotel stays either. If you’re a good photographer, ask the hotel if they’d like you to take photos for their marketing material in exchange for a free stay, or if you’re a writer too, ask if you can scribble copy for their website or write a blog post on their site about what to do during your stay.
STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
If two weeks in the Bahamas is on your bucket list, start saving. But if you generally want to have an adventure abroad, start thinking outside of the box. Places like Bulgaria, Croatia or Hungary are beautiful and full of wonderful culture but are often overlooked in favour of the more obvious holiday destinations. Also start thinking about being more flexible with the time of year you’d like to go. Putting an email alert on flights is a great way to find out first about price changes and definitely don’t travel in peak times if you can afford it. It’ll be quieter, cheaper and therefore more relaxing.
INCLUDE BITE-SIZED TRIPS
That big summer holiday is what we all live for come winter but if you want to travel more, booking in a couple of long weekends away can make that long wait more bearable. Whether it’s 48 hours in Paris or Spain or a mid-week stay in the UK, there are lots of amazing deals out there off-peak that can give you a mini break. If you put away £20 here and there a month you’ll soon have enough for an Air BnB here or for a city break like this every couple of months. When you look back at the end of the year you won’t believe how many places you’ve visited.
BUDGET LIKE A PRO
There are so many websites and features on how to budget – this one is really helpful, as is this. But what we tend to do is, every time we fancy going out for a meal (usually once a week!), or buy something for the house or our wardrobe, we jump on our bank website and put the money we would have spent in a separate account. By the end of the month we have a good £300 saved without even thinking about it.
CHEAP FLIGHT HACKS
OK, I’ll let you into a little secret. Securing the cheapest flight is all down to timing and this is generally the best according to Skyscanner and our own personal experience.
Domestic flights – 47 days before departure
Eurpoean flights – 6 weeks before departure
Long haul – 10-12 months before departure and stay away from 6 months before when they’ll increase by 19%
A few other pieces to consider if you want to travel more is to never book on a Friday, always use the incognito window on your browser so the algorithm doesn’t hike up prices and try to look into booking single flights instead of returns.
Most airlines have sales in January and at the end of summer so it’s always worth signing up to their newsletters as annoying as they are) to be notified of when they’re coming up. You really can get some total bargains. Although Skyscanner is everyone’s go-to I actually find Google to be the best as it includes lesser-known airlines that aren’t signed up to Skyscanner
AVOID THE COST TRAPS
Saying you’ve done the Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower is great but, effectively, you’re paying through the roof for a view that you could easily get elsewhere. Research high restaurants and rooftop bars in the same area – I guarantee you’ll get the same experience with less crowds, half the money and a drink in hand! Secondly, always ask your waiter for recommendations, not the concierge who will point you in the direction of the most expensive places as they get a cut.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What are your top tips to travel more for less? Are there certain countries or hacks that you’ve found to be affordable? I’m always collecting bits of travel advice so do let me know!