The most stressful part of travelling? Most definitely… but it can be easier.
One thing I have always stood by when booking our next adventure is to make a budget plan AFTER you have a brief outline of where you want to go. The hardest part of getting the ball rolling when it comes to travelling is sitting at your laptop looking at flights, hotels, or activities with a budget in mind. I can’t afford that, I won’t have enough to do this, but what if I run out of money?
It’s like you have already started your adventure in a negative mindset.
For example, if you are looking at doing 1 month in Europe then it would be impossible to create a diverse itinerary when all you are thinking of is how much it is going to cost. So first, look at the places that you would like to visit and make a quick and brief itinerary to see if it is ‘feasible’. Taking into consideration the purpose of the trip, the time of year and your means of transport. << people always forget about this when they are travelling (especially if you are from the UK and you can get a day rider for £5). Unfortunately, it costs a lot more to travel around Europe than it does around the UK.
So the places we would like to visit include Barcelona, Valencia, Bordeaux, Paris (romantic aren’t I), Cologne, Amsterdam, London, Florence, Milan and Rome.
We only have 4 weeks so I know I’m pushing the boat out a little bit but you’ve got to be ambitious. Sunny gives me the “be realistic” eyes, so I know I have to eliminate a COUPLE of my destinations.
So I search my current location flying to (Everywhere) on Skyscanner. I know I want to go to Europe so I look for the cheapest possible flight to Europe. Flexibility is key here.
Whether it’s a couple of days or a couple of weeks, being flexible WILL find you a cheaper flight.
So the cheapest flight is to Barcelona so that is definitely staying on the list… WHOO. Next, I decide where I REALLY want to go, so we compromise, if she lets me keep Amsterdam, I will let her keep Paris (no girl will ever turn down a trip to Paris).
TIP; I always refer back to google maps, you can see what’s around and how long it takes to get to each place and you can decide on what sort of transport will be more fitting to you.
Back to it… so Barcelona is kind of in an awkward place to start my travels if I want to go to Valencia as it will mean heading 6 hours south of the east coast only to be heading back up to make my way to France…
So I refer back to Google Maps and I look at what is north of Barcelona on the west coast on the way up to France… GIRONA.
Just over an hour’s drive from Barcelona and a couple of hours from the French border, it makes perfect sense to spend a couple of days in GIRONA before passing the border.
Now I still have to eliminate some more options from my initial itinerary to make this trip do-able. Bordeaux is on the East coast of France and honestly makes no sense to head that way if I am persistent on backpacking Europe without it costing an arm and a leg
Back to the maps I go, I see Montpellier and Lyon are a reasonable distance and are on the way to Paris, so I explore both options and look at the cost of both places and I toss a coin… Lyon, it is.
Now we have eliminated Valencia and Bordeaux but have found brilliant compromises in the forms of Girona & Lyon.
So now we have worked out being in Paris for a glass of wine on the Eiffel Tower looking over the beautiful city of Paris, I kept my end of the deal, now sunny has to keep hers, AMSTERDAM.
Referring back to the maps I look at the remainder of my locations and see where I am and where I want to go. I either go to London – Amsterdam – Cologne or visa-versa. Remember our friend skyscanner? Let’s check it out. So, skyscanner finds me a flight from Paris to cologne for just $35. My decision has been made, Cologne it is!
Again this wouldn’t be possible if we weren’t flexible with dates and locations so make sure you give yourself enough time to play around with the itinerary.
We have finally booked Cologne and after a few nights on the beer and a little bit of exploring we will leave, but how do we get to our next destination?
Rome2Rio.. you wouldn’t believe how much this app has helped us get from A to B over the years! The app tells us that there is a bus we can take for a 3-hour journey from Cologne to Amsterdam for just $50! Don’t we all love a bargain?
Yawnnnn. 3 hours later we will be in the capital of the Netherlands. Canals, old buildings and more canals! I love it!
Being from the UK, I have the advantage of knowing that there are many different ways that I can get to England, I just have to find the most cost-efficient way. After an extensive search online I have compared the price of the euro star, coach, the ferry and a flight.
Euro star – $90
Coach – $40
Ferry – $60
Flight – $45
Although it is cheaper to get a coach, I don’t want to be sat on a bus or 13 hours to save $5, so it makes sense to cut the journey down by 12 hours and just catch a flight.
Toronto – Barcelona $305
Barcelona – Girona $15
Girona – Lyon $45
Lyon – Paris $45
Paris – Cologne $35
Cologne – Amsterdam $50
Total – $495
So all of my transport is sorted out and I know exactly how I am getting from one place to another and I have done it as efficiently as possible to save money. Once you have the itinerary in place, you can go ahead and look at accommodations, travel insurance, how much you want to budget per day and that is how we plan our budget to make the most out of what we have.
ALWAYS remember that flexibility is the best way to save money when planning out your trip. The difference a couple of days can make is huge and by being that little bit more flexible with dates and locations can save you hundreds of $$.
For more tips & tricks on budget travel click HERE.