Dec 20, 2010

Microtraveling: Holidays on the Cheap!

As part of the 20 Something Blog swap, Andy Jones, our guest poster from England (as in the country, not New England), will now tell a tale of how he thrifted his way through Europe. I believe we can all be inspired by his story. Check out his blog here: Andy hmmm and enjoy his post!
During my final year of University I invented something that I call Microtravelling*. I had three problems; I am quite a wanderlustuous, I didn't like the final year stress, and I was in a job that effectively paid less than minimum wage. Those three things don't go well together.

Anyway. To skip to the end of the story, between November 2008 and November 2009 I had been to Denmark, Spain, Poland, Wales (it counts), Sweden twice, Norway, Germany, and Italy. When I tell people that (not that I tell people, but more when they see on Facebook) they think I must have loads of money, but that is far from the truth!

It all started when I saw a 'Flights 1p' offer. These offers are renowned for actually costing much more (more like £100) due to the hidden costs. I was determined that, since that is the advertised price, I would do all I can to pay as little as possible. I had to prove it to my family with receipts, but the final cost of my flight to Denmark cost 8p... 1p there, 1p back... I even treated 3 of my friends. Getting that price wasn't too difficult. I had to open a new bank card, the only card that doesn't incur £10 fees per person, and I had to accept not having any bags, which was fine.

The hotel I found was £25 each, for two nights, which is the benefit of having 4 people. It had the bonus of not needing a map to find, as it was pretty much attached to the airport. But still, beggars can't be choosers. Denmark is a notoriously expensive country... I had to accept that I couldn't eat too much. This was made easy by finding a big pack of biscuits that cost £1. In the time I was there I got by on one burger, one pizza, one pack of biscuits, 70cl of vodka and two bottles of coke. Student style. Total cost: £48.02. And great memories, and a Captain Vestman picture**.

Finding the cheapest flights can take some time, but it’s worth it. Take time to find out which cards don't carry any fees and make sure to get one. Hotels can often be expensive; instead I usually look for alternatives such as apartments (which you can usually get much cheaper). Norway was a little bit different. To avoid paying fees for that I had to get a 'prepaid MasterCard'... I hadn't even heard of one before. Hotels cost a stupid amount there, so we decided to split a £25 bag fee between us and take a tent! That’s thinking outside the box. Although the holiday became much more expensive when I paid £6 for a 6" subway. £1 an inch! In Sweden we saved money by staying on a boat!

It has taught me that you don't need much money to go on holiday. The flights may only be relevant to European, but the idea that saving money by 'slumming it' any way possible is relevant everywhere, and in my experience, leads to much better memories!

*I may not have invented it, but I haven't heard it used before.
** Souvenirs cost too much money. A drunken photo of me, wearing a tight, gay vest is more than enough.
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