There’s a lot of animosity around students travelling. If you take the plunge and book a term time get away you’re either mistaken for Bill Gates or you’re seen as YOLOing a little too hard (destined to eat Sainsbury’s value noodles until your next loan comes through).
In the heart-wrenching aftermath of learning from my own silly mistakes, here are some serious travel hacks that could help you save on the euros all whilst having the satisfaction of beating the holiday system. They might not all seem very glamorous, but even basic noodles need paying for!
1. Although we’re on a budget, there’s no harm in thinking big (and outside of the box- Europe isn’t just pricey Spain and Germany!). If you’re stuck for ideas, Skyscanner allows you to type in the airport you want to travel from and comes up with the cheapest destinations. Poland, anyone? The trick is to be flexible on flight dates. Rather than specifying a specific date, click on the entire month option and you’ll be able to see when is best value for money. Alternatively, if you know where you want to travel, Google Flights gives you the cheapest airline to go with in a clear, easy to read format.
2. Accommodation. Airbnb has been wonderful this year. Hostels are also the obvious choice. Read the reviews and shop around. Enjoy it! My only advice would be: accommodation close to town will save you transport fare and having WiFi included allows you to use WhatsApp, iMessage, etc. and will save you money on roaming charges.
If you’re travelling with someone you may even want to look at Couchsurfing.com. Be wary however; look for someone with lots of good reviews and a full profile. If you fall well (like many of my friends have), it could be the opportunity to save a lot of money and like Airbnb meet locals along the way!
A QUICK MESSAGE ABOUT GROUPON: some holiday deals that Groupon offer look amazing value for money, but be wary! There are a lot of terms and conditions that are well hidden and lead to extra costs that are hard to get out of. I once had to grudgingly pay an extra £50 to choose an airport that wasn’t Luton or Heathrow. Rookie fresher mistake.
3. Although East Midlands is no Heathrow, Nottingham offers frequent skylink transfers from QMC to the airport for £7 for a two trip ticket . However, if East Midlands isn’t offering your destination Red Spotted Hanky has saved me so much money on train fare, by being flexible on your dates, having a 16-24 rail card and planning a few weeks in advance you could save you a bundle.
4. Next, buy a travel guide, or even better download a free PDF of your chosen city onto your phone. Tripomatic offer good quality and concise downloadable guides that also include maps, but be wary of walking around abroad with your phone on show the whole time!
5. Almost there! Don’t forget to download an offline currency converter app (XE) and then exchange your money before leaving. Most banks offer very good conversion rates for their customers. Don’t do what I did and lose around £10 by converting my pounds in a dodgy Prague corner shop, so it’s often better to take out more than you’ll think you need and convert it back on your return to the UK
6. Finally, it’s all about that hand luggage. Except for a small shoulder bag that will have your important documents, phone and book (snacks), the rest needs to fit in a cabin sized/ easily transportable bag so its time to be frugal. Wear your heaviest clothes, think layers.
You knew that was coming. I won’t go into the fine details of what to pack in this post, just be wise. Check the weather forecast and be practical. If you’re choosing between your allergy medicine and another pair sandals, only one of these is going to save you if you risk it and eat that strange looking Czech cake laden with walnuts (trust me).
If you do want some packing guidance check out the two links below:
So, that’s it! If you are planning a little trip this exam season keep digging until you find deals that you’re happy with. They’re out there, you just need to be stingy enough to get your hands on them! Meet the people, visit the places and make the most out of your money.
Author’s personal photos.
Edited by Nicole Jones