What your friends forgot to tell you about cheaper travel
1. ¿Quanto cuesta? сколько это стоит? यो कति खर्च गर्छ?
A good start is half the work. Before you book a trip, take a look at the cost of daily life at your destination. For the price of a dry cheese sandwich in Norway, you get a five-star meal in Vietnam. To find out exactly how much budget you need, you can visit budgetyourtrip.com. Pick your destination and your travel style (budget, mid-range or luxury) and immediately see how much other travellers spend there on average.
As a reference, a survey by InSites Consulting shows that young travellers (18-30 years old) have an average travel budget of €1,251. Research by Ipsos shows that Belgian families spend an average of €2,318 a year on holidays.
2. Timing is everything
It is best to buy airline tickets in January. It is best to buy airline tickets five months before your departure. Airline tickets are best bought on Tuesdays... Google has 3.2 million hits for the query "when to buy airline tickets". Fortunately, there's an app that gives you a much more specific answer: Hopper.
Hopper doesn't just show the current prices of airline tickets. Thanks to big data, the app also tells you how much prices are likely to rise or fall in the coming weeks and months.
Although its list of destinations is still limited, Hopper also offers the same concept for hotels. The app shows how the prices for a hotel room are evolving so you can book your stay at exactly the right time.
3. Hit the road !
Once you've arrived at your destination, public transport is often the most economical choice. You can also buy a low-cost rail pass in many countries, including outside Europe.
Moovit is a handy travel app which now has more than 400 million users in 90 countries. The app shows you the best route from A to B by public transport. You can also filter routes by 'shortest route', 'least walking' and 'least transfers'.
If you don't feel like lugging your bags to the bus or train, you can go by Uber, Grab or Lyft for a small fee. Sometimes this is even cheaper than renting a car yourself (which ends up being parked 90% of the time).
The cheapest rental cars can be found on comparison websites such as Kayak, Momondo, Expedia and Skyscanner (also useful for hotel rooms and flights). And if you want it even cheaper, you can check out forums like Tripadvisor. These often have tips from locals about rental companies you are less likely to find on Google. And, of course, 1001 other tips.
4. Our house, is a very, very, very fine house...
Airbnb.com, Booking.com, Couchsurfing.com – you have probably heard of these sites. Another alternative is house swapping. You accommodate a family that wants to spend a weekend, week, month or even a year in Belgium and at the same time you will stay in their home. With over 400,000 homes in 187 countries, homeexchange.com is a good place to start. It's a paid membership site, but that investment more than pays itself back.
Another attractive option is websites that offer last minute deals or flash deals, such as lastminute.com, weekenddesk.be, verychic.com and voyage-prive.be. Some of these websites also offer secret hotels or secret trips for those who are more adventurous. For an additional discount, you can book a hotel room or trip without knowing in advance which hotel or destination you will go to.
If you like to make a sport out of getting the best deals, you can go to websites like vakantieveilingen.be and hotelkamerveiling.nl. You bid against other bargain hunters to get the best deal.
And if you're willing to roll up your sleeves for free accommodation, WWOOFing might be the thing for you. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You will get board and lodging in exchange for temporarily working on an organic farm.
5. Don't forget the guide
Travelling is always an enriching experience, but it does put a dent in your savings. If you're planning on seeing many of the sights in a city, check to see if there is a city pass. Such cards offer discounts or free admission to the main attractions and museums. Free public transport is often included. The local tourist office or your smartphone can tell you whether such discount cards are available at your destination.
If you have a student or teacher card, you can sometimes get discounts for museums and other activities. It may also be useful to ask for a discount, even if it is not explicitly shown or publicised. Some museums and attractions have a weekly fixed day on which you can enter for free.
A free walking tour is a fun and inexpensive way to explore a city. You can find them in almost all major cities in Europe and in some major cities in Asia, South America, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Just Google "free walking tour [name of city]" and set off. Be sure to give the guide a tip at the end.
6. Cash or card?
A survey conducted by InSites Consulting showed that among travellers between 18 and 30 years old, those who preferred paying by card spent an average of €352 less on holiday than those who preferred cash. In the same survey, 46% said that their money had at some point been lost or stolen on holiday, while 33% had lost a payment card. With cash, the amount is certainly lost. Unauthorised payment transactions, however, are not charged to the cardholder.
A payment card is therefore your best choice on holiday, although it's best to look into what is customary at your destination before setting off. In Denmark you can even pay for a sanitary stop with the card, while in Zambia, for example, you'll have to use cash more often.
If you’re travelling to the US, keep in mind that your Keytrade Bank credit card is blocked by default for use in the US. If you wish to use your VISA card in the US, you will first need to make a cash withdrawal or payment using your PIN. This activates your card for use in the US.
One final tip: you can reach Card Stop around the clock at +32 70 344 344. Don’t forget to add this number to the contact list on your phone. This saves you the hassle of having to look for the number when you need it.