5 practical ways to help save your pennies whilst travelling
It’s the time of the year again! As summer approaches (and as we conquer the dreaded essays and exams), now is time to plan for our summer holidays! However as students with a budget we always have to consider the best money saving options so that we can save up (to go on more trips, perhaps). Here are five top tips to help you achieve just that!
1. Time is key!
There’s no way of avoiding it – if you’re travelling during the summer, prices of flights and hotels are definitely going to be much higher than at other times of the year. However there are ways to reduce this “damage”.
In terms of flights, prices still vary quite a bit during the summer – for instance, weekend flights are definitely still pricier. Skyscanner recommends comparing flights from Wednesday to Wednesday, instead of Friday to Friday. Using Skyscanner’s search tool will also allow you to see a graph view to determine which are the cheapest days of the week to fly! Other websites like Kayak.com also allow you to do just that.
As for hostels/hotels, using websites like agoda.com, booking.com, hostelworld.com, trivago.com (and many more!!) will allow you to make comparisons across the different options that you have. On top of that, we recommend comparing across these websites, and even cross checking with the official website of the hostel/hotel itself – prices may vary quite a bit! You might also like to try Airbnb or even couchsurfing.com, if you’re up for it!
2. Be app-savvy
Use your smart phone as a money-saver. No longer do you have to spend on physical maps and travel guides (that can sometimes be quite pricey) – download some apps for a much lower price (some are even free), and keep the travel guides, maps, phrasebooks, dictionaries etc. in your pocket! Here are three that you can consider:
You must be thinking – who doesn’t have Google maps? But the question is whether you are aware of all its features. For those who do not know, there is an ‘offline map’ feature that allows you to mark up and download, when you have data connection, several areas you may want to visit, so when you’re out, you can still find those places without data.
This app allows you to download maps of cities that you are visiting and use them offline, but that’s not all to it. You have the option of downloading a set of recommended Wikipedia articles that are related to the tourist attractions of that city, and all these can be viewed when you’re offline! Just imagine: finding your way to Prague castle from your apartment, and reading about the history of Prague castle from the app, all without incurring any data roaming charges. With this app, you can be your own tour guide.
Going to a country where you can’t speak their language? Use TripLingo, a translation app that will make sure you can communicate with the locals. Currently, TripLingo has over 2000 phrases for over 10 languages, audio lessons, as well as a 10,000 word offline dictionary.
However, you may need data/wifi to access some of the features, like the instant voice translator. If you do not want to incur any roaming charges, simply visit your app store and search for a phrasebook of your desired language!
3. Exchange rates - shop around!
Changing your money at the airport is never a good idea. Instead, try Travel Money, Money Savig . This helps you compare the best online rates to decide from where, and when, to ‘order money online’.
Try to avoid withdrawing money when you’re abroad because your bank will charge you a commission for it. However, if this cannot be avoided, try to take out larger sums at once so you incur less of the commissioning fee, but take good care of your money! Also, note that normally, using a debit card is cheaper than a credit card, so use the right card to withdraw your money.
4. Stay connected and save
Want to stay connected to your family and friends whilst on holiday, but not get a shock when you see your phone bill?
Always remember to turn your data roaming off when you arrive at another country. In this day and age, there are Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere – make use of these to make Skype/Viber/Facebook/Whatsapp calls instead of incurring roaming charges. If you need to stay connected 24/7, purchase a roaming data add-on from your telecom company. Alternatively, you can buy a SIM card in the country you’re visiting. While this may not be the most convenient option, it may (or may not) be cheaper than paying for a data add-on, depending on the country you’re visiting.
5. Save on travel insurance
If you are taking multiple trips over the summer (or indeed over the entire year), purchase an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy instead of buying on the spot insurance for your single trips. This will not only save you the trouble of multiple single purchases – it will also save you a whole lot of money!
Jasmine Teo lives at Liberty House at our Student Accommodation London. She is currently studying a Master's degree in Language and Cultural Diversity at Kings College London.