Doing things cheaply does not necessarily mean that it affects the quality. A city break on a low budget can of course be a great trip. Also, you may be able to afford to travel more often than if you were always going to hit the big drum. After all, it is the experiences and memories that are worth something in the long run. Here are the tips on how to save money on your vacation.
Are you going to a cheap or expensive city?
Choosing a big city can be crucial to the cost. Flights are priced according to the length of the trip. Therefore, the trip to Barcelona will be more expensive than to Prague. The cost level in each country is also important. Finding cheap hotels and restaurants in Krakow is easier than in London. If your budget is more important than your destination, you should choose a city where the overall cost level is low.
You can still make your holiday in an expensive city far cheaper by being a little smart, and with a little more planning.
Book a flight a long time in advance, or not…
Finding the cheapest airline tickets can be easier said than done. The Internet is full of tips that often seem contradictory. Some emphasize the importance of booking early, while others advise you to look for last-minute tickets. The truth about when airline tickets are cheapest seems to be difficult to figure out.
Our experience is that both of the above statements are true, in their own way. If you book your trip with Norwegian, it definitely pays to be out early. The same applies to many other airlines, but some of the bottles with great offers on the flight departure that goes tomorrow.
The best strategy is to spend time comparing, and preferably a long time in advance. Then you get an impression of the pricing policy of each individual company. If you are out in good time, and get a good offer, you should book immediately. If you decide to take a city break on impulse and in the near future, look for the last-minute tickets.
Go on a city break on Tuesdays
A look at the low cost airlines’ calendars reveals what we all really know. It is usually cheaper to fly on a day early in the week compared to Thursdays and Fridays. Similarly, return tickets on Sundays are the most expensive, as long as you were not among the first to book. The airlines operate with different price categories, and of course sell out the cheapest ones first. Thus, it is the most expensive tickets that are sold last, if the company is not one of those who dump the prices of remaining seats just before departure.
In sum, we recommend adding the flight to days with less traffic, preferably Tuesdays before departure, and Saturdays before returning home. Those who can be flexible on the travel days get great opportunities to travel cheaply.
Stopovers are almost always expensive. If there is a direct route to the big city you want to visit, go for that airline. You should still take a look at the companies competing on the route. If you are unlucky, the airline with the direct route has already sold the cheapest tickets, and thus a stopover with another company can pay off.
You need to consider this against how long you have for your city break. If you are going to be away for a long time, a stopover is not very clumsy. If time is short and you want the most out of your holiday, stopovers should not eat up your precious time.
Do not pay extra for the flight
Beware of low-cost airlines that charge you extra costs as soon as they get the chance. One of the worst, and a good example of the problem is RyanAir. For example, if you have booked the trip with only hand luggage, and it turns out that your bag is a bit larger than the requirements, they will charge you a stiff fee. The same applies if you do not print boarding passes, or do not use the company’s app for this. If you come to the counter to check in, RyanAir welcomes you with a fair price to print a boarding pass.
With that said, such companies are also the most affordable if you familiarize yourself with the rules, and follow them to the letter.
Find affordable accommodation
The biggest inconvenience in the travel fund on a city break is normally the overnight stay. This of course depends on how long the city break will last. When it comes to hotels, you will usually get the most out of it by using online comparison services. Sites like Expedia and Hotels have built up a huge customer base. Hotels that are not affiliated with these almost drown online, and can be difficult to find. Therefore, we usually find the best deals via the largest comparison sites. There are also promotional offers that are worth following.
If you accept more insecurity, and do not need as much privacy on the trip, hospice and so-called couchsurfing are common alternatives. This will be a trade-off of whether a shared shower and such is okay, compared to the kroner you save compared to an affordable hotel room.
Stay centrally or close to the subway
Basically, you should stay centrally when traveling on a city break. Then you have a short distance to most of what you want to experience. However, hotels that are more peripheral are almost always cheaper. Again, this becomes a trade-off. If you find an affordable hotel in the city center, the cost difference and what you save on transportation costs may be worth it. In addition, you save precious travel time.
If you choose to stay outside the city center, be sure to find a hotel close to the subway. In big cities, it is quick to move by metro, and the use of time is often negligible. If the big city does not have the metro, or there is no line where you choose to stay, go for tram as a second choice. Trams usually run on their own routes and get around faster in traffic than buses and taxis.
Plan your meals before you go
To save money on food, you should spend some time before you go to plan. Not to decide when to eat, but where. Normally, restaurants located in tourist areas, or close to popular attractions, are more expensive than the quality would suggest. Restaurants located in areas where locals travel are usually the most affordable. Avoiding the tourist traps not only means that you save money, but the chances are also high that you will get better service and better food.
Check online if you find a discussion forum where people living in the city contribute, or experienced travelers. There are often separate discussion threads for restaurants, and you can ask for tips directly from other participants.
Check the prices of the experiences before you travel
For example, if you plan to go to a concert in the city you are traveling to, check prices online before you go. If it costs a fortune, and it is not about life to get to that concert, rather take the chance to find a reasonable ticket at the end. Maybe you are lucky and get a remaining seat with a big discount when you line up at the ticket office just before the concert starts. Also look for group discounts on sights that require entrance fees.
Note that many sights have higher prices on the days or periods when there are a lot of tourists in the city. For example, a ticket to a musical in London can cost twice as much on a Saturday in July, compared to a Tuesday in March.
Avoid scams and bad luck
It can quickly become expensive to be price conscious if you are unlucky or naive at the same time. Be wary of offers that sound too good to be true. You will not be fooled by airline tickets, but it happens that people go on blisters in connection with accommodation. Especially if the accommodation is arranged privately. Some big cities also have lugubrious hotels that can cheat you on the bill. Tickets for experiences bought on the black market are perhaps the most common trap we fall into when we try to do things cheaply and “smartly”.
Our recommendation is that you pay as much as possible in advance, as long as it is safe (airline tickets and accommodation). Use cash to pay small amounts, such as cafe visits and small meals, entrance tickets and transportation costs. Everything that costs significant sums (accommodation, shopping), and which is paid on the spot, should be paid by credit card if you have one. Credit cards give you far better opportunities to get your money back if you are scammed, or if you did not receive the goods / services as expected. Flights and hotels paid for by credit card are also more favorable for you in case of cancellation.