Is it possible to travel inexpensive and interesting?

How to save on travel: tips on flights, accommodation, food and travel

Travel is cool, budget travel is cool, enjoyable and cost-effective. But there’s a downside to saving money. Budget travel almost always becomes a difficult tradeoff between comfort, time and money. And more often than not, it is not in favor of comfort and time. It is worth bearing this in mind.

I will share tips on how to plan a trip, how to travel cheaply and on a small budget, what you can save good money on, and what is better to spend once, so as not to overpay afterwards. This selection will help you save time, effort, and most importantly, money.

Documents

Problems with documents require a lot of effort, time and even money. If there are no such problems, you can invest your resources in a vacation. My tips will help you avoid unpleasant situations.

In Russia, it is officially allowed to make two passports, provided that the second passport will be of the new type, that is, biometric. With two documents, it will be easier to travel to conflicting countries. For example, if you go to Abkhazia and put a mark in your passport, and then want to go to Georgia, there may be problems at the Georgian border. It’s the same with Israel and Iran, Kosovo, and Serbia. In addition, the second passport comes in handy if the first one runs out of space for stamps and visas are still valid. Then you can enter the country with the first passport, and put stamps in the second. This is officially allowed in Russia, so there will be no problems with the law.

Sometimes it is easier to get visas in neighboring countries or in the visa centers of other states. For example, you can get a tourist visa for Bali from any Indonesian embassy in our country, but the process may take one to three months. The same visa can be obtained in neighboring Thailand in a couple of days. At the same time Russians do not need a visa to enter Thailand.

Scan your passport before you leave. Print one copy and keep the other on your phone. It is better to leave the original in the hotel safe.

Always check the current visa information on several websites. It may not be up to date, because countries often change their conditions of entry due to pandemic or other shocks. Be sure to visit the official website of the government of the country you plan to travel to.

It is best to take your Russian passport with you. If you lose your passport, it is easier to leave the country with a Russian passport than with no documents at all. In this case, you will need a certificate for return to the Russian Federation. You can apply to the Russian diplomatic missions or consulates in the country of residence for this certificate. If you have a Russian passport, the certificate will be issued within 2 working days, without a passport may be issued within 27 working days.

Do not neglect the travel insurance, especially if the trip involves activities. For example, if you are going to climb mountains, go hiking or biking, skiing, snowboarding, surfing or horseback riding. In some countries, the prices in hospitals are very high, and the insurance will be cheaper than treating a banal fracture.

Tickets and Flights

To travel more profitably, you need to fly on low-cost airlines. Lowcosters are airlines that offer cheap tickets by forgoing the usual services, such as in-flight meals and even luggage transportation. Without luggage, by the way, it’s cheaper to fly on regular flights. If you want to save even more money, you can reduce the number of items and put them in a small bag that meets the requirements for hand luggage. It is better to measure and weigh your hand luggage at home, so that at the airport you don’t have to pay extra fees for exceeding the permitted size.

It is more economical to travel with transfers. When choosing tickets the website by default offers you a short time between flights. But if you choose a transfer time of more than 24 hours, you will have one to three days between flights. During this time you can walk around the transit country. If you don’t book your trip well in advance (2-3 months beforehand) you may notice, for example, that Thursday flights are cheaper than Sunday flights. It is fun to explore Istanbul for a couple of days and then fly to Paris. This option does not affect the cost of the ticket, but it varies the vacation. Before planning a stopover trip, be sure to check visa requirements. For example, if you’re flying to London with a connection in Paris. You have a British visa, but no Schengen visa. Then, to leave the airport and walk around Paris you need to get a visa-transit, which is valid for only 72 hours.

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Do not neglect traveling by bus, especially in European countries. For example, if you arrive in Europe and want to travel around it, it is much cheaper to travel between countries by bus than by plane or even train. Buses in Europe are more comfortable – they have toilets and even Wi-Fi. Here are a few major carriers whose buses travel throughout Europe – Eurolines (eurolines.de), Flixbus (flixbus.com), Blablabus (blablabus.com). On the official website, you can find fares and bus schedules.

In Europe, there are convenient train passes for trains, which can save you a lot on travel between countries. You buy a single pass and travel with it across European countries on all kinds of trains. Under these conditions, the train can even be cheaper than the bus. But you need to plan your trip in advance and check with the information desk at the station to see if the planned route will be available. You can buy a single ticket on the website of Interrail (interrail.eu).

Public transportation is not cheap and available everywhere, but you can rent a scooter, bicycle or scooter.

Accommodation

Staying in a hotel is often more expensive than the alternatives, which can be hostels, rental apartments or apartments on couchsurfing. The latter option is the most interesting and budget, because you will have the opportunity to meet locals and stay with them for free. Many people use this opportunity to travel around the world cheaply.

The choice of neighborhoods for housing is very important. Different areas of the same city can vary greatly in price, amenities, and even safety. For example, in Berlin, the Neukeln district is considered unsafe not only for tourists, but also for locals. You can rent cheap accommodation there, but it is considered one of the most disadvantaged areas of the city. It is worth paying attention to it before choosing a place to stay, so as not to spoil your vacation and opinion about the country.

The cost of housing may depend on the period of tenancy. Renting an apartment by the day is always more expensive than renting it by the month. At the same time, the same apartment may be cheaper if rented for more than 2 weeks (it depends on the landlord).

Find a cheaper accommodation can be incognito, because the sites sometimes consider that you are making a request from a “rich country” and offer higher prices.

You can save money by booking accommodation on Yandex Travel. After booking you will be returned Yandex Plus cashback points, which can be spent to pay for the next booking. For example, for seven nights in hotel Antalya it is necessary to pay 31 200 roubles, kashback on account Yandex will return 3120 roubles with which it is possible to pay for the following booking or other purchases in services Yandex.

Advice: in Asian and European countries, take a European and Asian standard charging unit with you.

How to save on travel

1. Travel will be cheaper if you go out of season. This will affect the tickets, housing prices, prices in the markets and even the cost of entertainment.

You can find free walking tours by searching “free walking tours + city name”. They are not available everywhere, but in popular tourist towns they are common. On the spot you will be waiting for a guide and a tour group, which you can join for free payment. That is, at the end you can leave the amount you can afford to spend on it.

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3. In Eastern countries do not hesitate to haggle. Maybe for us it’s not quite usual, but there it is absolutely normal. They really want to make more money on tourists and name prices several times higher. Do not hesitate to say that these prices do not suit you and offer your own conditions.

4. Meals are cheaper if you cook yourself. Products should look in supermarkets and in the market – bargain prices can be found there and there.

5. Look for those restaurants and cafes that the locals go to. They are likely to have better and cheaper food. The tourist areas probably won’t have these places – all establishments are designed there.

How to travel on a budget on your own

Knowing how to travel cheaply and save money on trips usually comes with experience. You accumulate useful services, sites and applications, and come to understand what deals are really good, and where to look for them. By trial and error, it gradually becomes clear where it is easy to avoid overpaying, and where it is not worth sacrificing.

All of the accumulated experience is collected in this review of useful resources, services and tips that will help you save money when planning and traveling. There are destinations where it is more profitable to go by tour, but most of the tips refer to independent travel, as it is often the most budget-friendly option. Don’t be afraid to travel alone – it’s not difficult if you prepare in advance for the trip or be prepared to act on the situation.

Don’t plan specific places and dates and keep an eye out for promotions

You get the cheapest trips if you base it on existing deals rather than pre-planning a place on specific dates.

The most convenient tool for planning flights is Aviasales. It works for both: if you don’t know where and when to fly, and if you need to get to a certain place for a certain period of time by the cheapest way. On the site you can select flights by map, date, price and number of connections.

Usually promotions are found either on last minute tickets and tours, or on the contrary for a few flights. To catch the best deals, it is worth subscribing to aggregators of specials:

    – The fastest website, publick and telegram channel with the best promotions. You can track both flights from Russia and within Europe, as well as discounts on hotels, tours, trains and buses. – A site that also collects bargain flights, but is more focused on tour and ready-to-go travel promotions. – a telegram channel that collects airline promotions, tours and other deals. – an aggregator site for low-cost tours.

It will also be helpful to sign up for newsletters directly from airlines, as they sometimes send out promo codes and specials. The cheapest tickets are found in the low-cost airlines, so you should pay attention to them first. Popular low-cost airlines with flights from Russia and nearby countries: Pobeda, Wizzair, RyanAir, Norwegian (for some destinations such as the Canary Islands or Mallorca), airBaltic, Vueling, easyJet. Many of them have their own calendars of low prices, where it is also convenient to choose the best options.

In addition to maximizing savings, this approach also reveals destinations that might not have come to mind on their own. Specials will give you an idea for a trip, and unusual connections will encourage you to compose a non-standard itinerary. So it’s important to be flexible and open to new places.

Fly with hand luggage

Most cheap tickets are sold out by low-cost airlines that offer the basic option with carry-on luggage only. There is usually a substantial surcharge for full luggage. And if at first it seemed odd to leave with a backpack/small suitcase for longer than a couple of days, you gradually realize that this is the best option.

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Hand luggage teaches you not to take unnecessary things – after all, probably everyone has carried things they never needed. Also a small luggage gives mobility – no need to wait for the issuance of the suitcase after the flight, rushing to the hotel to leave your things, and carry a lot of heavy and unnecessary things. Now there are many convenient travel-versions: jars, in which it is easy to pour gels/creams and not to take the whole package, atomizers, to take your favorite perfume without a heavy can.

To go with hand luggage for longer than a week will require a little more skill. For example, all clothing should be combined with each other and be as functional as possible: for this you should choose waterproof items, a palette of a maximum of three colors, and something that can be worn in layers – so that when possible things can be easily put on / taken off.

Prepare composite itineraries

Often you want to take round-trip tickets to one city, but it’s often more expensive and less interesting. So don’t be afraid of composite itineraries: they allow you to both save money and discover new points.

A hint for a successful complex route can be a transfer: you can at least get out in the city (if the visa allows), or plan a further trip already through it. For example, there are transfers in Dusseldorf. This itself is quite an interesting city, and if we are talking about short distances, the route there can be continued by bus or train (for example, to other cities in Germany or Holland). Land transport will save money, and an extra stop will make the trip richer. The cheapest and most convenient way to travel around Europe is on Flixbus.

It may be cheaper to fly specifically to a neighboring airport and then take a bus. For example, go to Bratislava, Belgrade, or Zagreb via Budapest; to Vienna via Bratislava; to Turin and Verona via Milan (Bergamo). For the same reason, it is usually better to fly from Tallinn, Helsinki, or Moscow than from St. Petersburg.

There are popular low-cost carriers in Europe, which means that when planning a complex route, you can immediately pay attention to these airports: Budapest, Milan, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Tallinn, Berlin, and Barcelona.

Examples of ready-made itineraries tried out personally:

Northern Italy – 8 cities per trip

Golden Ring – an interesting itinerary through Central Russia.

On your own vs tours

Often the key to cheap travel is planning a trip on your own. However, for some destinations it may be easier to buy a ready-made tour, since tour operators sometimes have favorable contracts with hotels and they have their own charters. Usually tours are more profitable for beach and exotic holidays: Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Cuba, Thailand. There are also deals to Sochi and other Black Sea resorts. Before you buy a tour, check the prices of tickets and hotels to be sure that you are not overpaying.

Great luck to find a last minute tour, the price of which is lower than the usual trip. This happens with vacations in Sochi, India (Goa), Jordan, Dominican Republic. Before you go on vacation be sure to check if there is a last minute tour to your destination. Make it easier to do in aggregators that collect offers from all travel agencies. The best of them: Level.travel, Travelata.

Prepare in advance

In order not to spend extra money and time on the trip itself, you should prepare in advance. For example, note worthy cafes and restaurants, because you can make a choice on the Internet, based on the reviews. Otherwise, there is a great risk of getting tired after a long walk and go to the first institution that comes across, where the quality of food will not match the price. The list of places I usually look at Tripadvisor and Google Maps.

It is also useful to read travel reports in advance. They often come up with recommendations of places, unusual attractions, and opportunities to save money. They usually include tips for getting from the airport in the fastest and cheapest way, where inexpensive cabs are, and where free public transportation (Narva). Such small guides to specific cities are available on this site as well.

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For those who do not like to read about the city in advance, and learn all the most interesting things on the spot, excursions are suitable. On them, too, you can save money by booking in advance. In addition to savings, there are other advantages: usually local guides do not speak Russian, offering only one or two types of excursions, and there is no way to find out about its quality in advance. On the Internet, you can choose a tour on the most suitable topic and look at its reviews. Convenient resources for booking tours: Tripster, Sputnik8.

Useful services

Now services can not only facilitate the planning and process of travel, but also help to save money. Below are listed only the tools I have tried out in my own experience.

  • maps.me – the most convenient offline maps: they are free and don’t weigh much. On the map you can mark all the found points: cafes, hotels, interesting places. With the downloaded map you do not have to spend money on the Internet or constantly search for wi-fi, buy paper guides and maps.
  • Too good to go is an app that aims to fight the recycling of good food. Cafes, restaurants, and gas station snack bars at the end of the day collect special bags of food that have expired and sell them for 3-5 times less. Ordering is done through an app. It is already working in many European countries: Norway, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland.
  • Drimsim – if the Internet and communications are still needed, it is more convenient to buy a single Simsim for all travel. It is advantageous when frequently changing countries and in countries with expensive cellular networks: Norway, Finland, Switzerland.
  • Cherehapa – you can also save on insurance, which is mandatory for all trips abroad, by choosing the best offer on the website.
  • Compensair – not many people know, but for any delayed flight you can get compensation. In order not to deal with the documents and applications, you can use a special service that will do everything for you.
  • Travelpayouts is an affiliate service with which you can get refunds on airline tickets, hotels, and excursions. – best website for renting cars abroad.

Housing

There are several ways to save money on lodging, which depends on how you’re traveling. If you are traveling by car, it will be cheaper to stay on the outskirts or between cities. If you’re traveling alone, the most likely budget option is a place in a hostel. If you are traveling alone, and especially if you are traveling with two or three people, the cost of an apartment or a hotel room will almost always be lower (especially in Northern and Western Europe). Extreme ways to save money include tents and couchsurfing.

Also pay attention to the location: yes, accommodation on the outskirts is less expensive, but check the prices of public transport – perhaps to get to the center will not only be long, but also expensive (Norway, France). And, for example, in Geneva, you can book a hotel on the outskirts, because public transportation is free for tourists there.

It is also convenient to look for accommodation not in one service, but directly in the aggregator. It compares hotel prices of all popular sites, from which it is easy to choose the right option.

Choose budget countries

Of course, it is easiest to save money in an inherently inexpensive country. In Europe, these are the countries of the Balkan Peninsula: Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, as well as Moldova and Romania. They are not so popular with tourists, but there is something to see: Macedonian mountain scenery can compete with Switzerland, and in Albania is the same sea as in more expensive Croatia.

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Slightly more expensive: Hungary, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia.

Nearby countries: Georgia, Armenia and all the countries of Central Asia.

Among the distant destinations: South-East Asia, India, South and Central America.

Saving on visas

Another option to save money could be to choose a visa-free country. Among the visa-free countries for Russians there are many interesting countries, besides well-known Turkey and Egypt. In Europe these are Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Moldova, Belarus. Among other interesting places: Tunisia, Morocco, Cuba, Brazil, and other countries in South and Central America.

Finding Interesting Things Nearby

If you want to travel often and inexpensively, it makes sense to take a closer look at what is nearby sometimes goes unnoticed. Many people neglect traveling in Russia, and then are surprised by the beautiful photos taken very close to them. There is a myth that traveling in Russia is expensive. Yes, domestic tourism is underdeveloped, and tickets for distant destinations are usually expensive. But in every region you can find something interesting, which turns out when you start looking.

Looking for places that are not promoted.

In travel and tourism, as in other areas, there are popular places and undeservedly forgotten places. The popularity of a place does not always mean that it is worth visiting, just that there is a certain tourist fashion for it. For example, the beauty of Lake Ohrid (Macedonia) is comparable to Lake Geneva or Lake Como (Italy), but few people have heard of it. Prices for hotels and food in Ohrid are much lower, as this place is not popular, but the natural attractions are the same. Or it is popular to book a cottage in Finland near the Russian border, although in neighboring Karelia exactly the same nature and cottages at lower prices. There are many such examples, so it is often useful to look for non-promoted places.

Antisales

Accumulated and a few recommendations on what to sacrifice in order to save money is not worth it. However, it is quite individual, because someone can easily sleep in a common room hostel and not hear snoring people, sleep through a night flight, and someone is sensitive to all these things. So here is a purely subjective opinion on the subject:

  • You should not ride buses or trains at night in order to save money on an overnight stay. It is very tiring, it is difficult to call such a sleep full, so if the next day will be active, most likely it will not bring much joy.
  • There is no need to eat only food from supermarkets. It is best to replace the food from the supermarket breakfast / dinner or breakfast and dinner, but to eat only from the supermarket is either time-consuming or unhealthy. It takes a lot of time to prepare healthy food, valuable in a trip, and it is not useful to eat ready-made store-bought food and convenience foods. So even in the economy, at least once a day, go out for a full meal.
  • Do not always wait for the company to travel. Yes, traveling together is almost always cheaper, at least due to double rooms or apartments. But you don’t want to miss out on good deals just because there’s no one easy to get along with, either. Single travel has its advantages.
  • Be reasonable in assessing your strength. You should not take long-distance train seats because of the small savings, buses that go longer than 15-18 hours, flights with 3-4 transfers. It’s very tiring, and with other options usually not worth the difference in ticket price.

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