Looking back the last 2 years, it was really wonderful. I encountered a lot of growth in my job, I had a solid base of friends around me, travelled to beautiful places and last but not least: I met the love of my life! I feel so lucky about all these things and I think that because of the fact that I am so happy, I found myself being less behind my computer writing blog articles and more out undertaking things. I ‘needed’ my blog less, to write down my thoughts, I had less concerns to overthink and was able to discuss them with my boyfriend. However, I still really love having my own blog and I want to keep my hobby alive! So hereby starting off with the first blog of 2018 (in July, damnit ;)).
I often get comments like: “Are you ever at home? You’re always travelling!”, “Do you even work?”. Sometimes it feels like I’m a bit spoiled that I get to travel so much – I work in an international company where I get to do some worktrips, I often plan weekend get-aways and I try to use my spare time as much as I can for travelling and exploring the world. In 2017, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Scotland, Cuba, France, Belgium, Morocco and the US (for holidays) and Romania, England and Serbia (for work). This year, I already went to Portugal, Spain, and Germany (and Romania & England again for work) and I will go to South-Africa in September and Israel in December! However – although it might seem like that – I’m not the type of person who wants to go EVERYWHERE, I am selective in my destinations and I think that’s important. I have to save up my money for the trips I make and take a lot of time researching the destinations to go to. I’d like to share with you how I plan my travels and share with you some tips & tricks to do this on a reasonable budget.
1. Be conscious on how to use your free days from work
I personally don’t take days off just to do nothing. Whenever I take a day or multiple days off – it’s for an occasion, preferably a trip! If you don’t have kids and you’re flexible on when you can plan your holidays, I’d suggest to take your holidays around the time of having public holidays. This way you save some of your leave days from work, while still being able to go away for a long amount of time. This could even help you save up days till the end of the year! I’ve managed to do that quite often, enabling to take even more days off the year after.
2. Keep some flexibility into your destination for a good offer
If you’re set on a specific travel date and location, you’re very likely to pay high prices. Especially if you are going in peak travel times like the Christmas Holiday. It generally really helps if you keep some degree of flexibility in your travels – OR define the dates you want to travel and find some cheap flight deals in that time OR define your destination and keep the dates flexible. In that way, we managed to fly to San Fransisco last year in the Christmas holiday, but only for 380EUR (from Amsterdam). We knew we wanted to go around the Christmas holiday, but weren’t set on the destination and exact dates, by searching long enough we found a destination we’d loved going to with a nice deal as well! This brings me to the next tip:
3. Take your time planning and investigating
Finding a good deal takes time. Planning a whole trip yourself takes time. If you don’t enjoy putting in the effort, then it’s definitely better to book a package deal. Luckily, I do really enjoy it. Browsing around on blogs, reading adventures and recommendations of others, getting a Lonely Planet book, checking different booking websites to find the best prices, it all helps for me to get to a final travel plan. I’ll share my preferred websites for booking plane tickets & accommodations and how I use each of them (cause yes, I do use all of the simultaneously)
- Skyscanner.com – I really like the airline comparing functionalities of this site, it gives a good overview of all possible options with good search options like flight duration, intermediate stops etc. This site also allows you to set a pricing alarm, meaning if you found a flight you’re interested in, you can get e-mail alerts on when the price of this is dropping.
- Paperflies.com – I love the ‘map’ functionality of this site, where it allows you to explore destinations with good price offers based on specific dates or a period of time you’d like to travel. This feature helped me to find the San Fransisco tickets. I also like their pricing calendars, which shows you how changing a date can help you get a cheaper price.
- Booking.com – I basically book all my stays through booking.com, they have so many options and great search variables to find the best place to stay. Quick tip – sometimes it’s worth checking the website of the accommodation you found through Booking.com, to see if you can get a better price if you book directly ;)
- Airbnb.com – I love staying at Airbnb’s, it gives you such a nice homey experience of staying at someone’s place at the city you’re visiting rather than a hotel. Often they are also very cost-effective :)
4. Make a budget overview before you book anything
Do determine what you want to spent on a holiday. I know so many people who take a lot of holidays, but end up broke because they are not watching their budgets closely. I often estimate by the time I’ll be leaving how much I can still save up till that point, and how much money I can currently set aside. My bank account actually allows me to set aside a different savings account for a specific occasion, so I have one saving up for travel. Also, make sure you and your travel partner are aligned on the budget you’re willing to spend. When I determine how much money I can miss, I make a budget overview for the travel when I have something in mind. Based on research (yes again ;)) I estimate how much the flight tickets would costs, how much I would spend on accommodation each night, how much I would need for travelling around (car rental/public transport), other fees I might encounter and a daily budget for food and activities. When you start to actually book things for your trip, you can easily compare it with your estimations to see if you’re not going to get into trouble :)
5. Set-up a travel itinerary
Especially when you’re going on a longer travel, with multiple people, it’s important to align expectations. Discuss with one another what you want to see and visit on your trip, and try to create a high-level day planning. Determine how much time you would need to visit each highlight on your trip and base the accommodations you book around that. It really saves a lot of stress/discussions when you are at your travel destination, to know the route you’re taking and the places you want to visit in advance of your trip. However, be aware that you don’t stick too much to your planning and try to live in the moment as well, be flexible where you can to explore things you didn’t think of before getting there :)
So it’s gotten to become quite a long post, but I hope there were some useful tips in there for you. Currently my boyfriend and I are planning a 3-week road-trip to South-Africa, we’re so excited!! We’ve been organising things for a long time already, it takes a lot of patience, but in the end I’m sure it will be all worth it. You can follow my Instagram to see the pics I’m taking there and I hope I’ll be able to share with you a blogpost as well of our experiences! Let me know if you have any tips for this destination and also tips to book your travels, they are always welcome!