I am a backpacker at heart, but as explained in recent blogs as I grow older and more intolerant, I have become accustom to the idea of resorts and plush hotels into my traveling etiquette. However this doesn’t mean I have to pay sky high fees for my holidays/vacations – oh no! This is where the shrewd backpacker comes into it.
I am constantly asked – how do you afford to travel so much? How do you go to the places you go?
Well it’s a 3 step process… Wanderlust, dedication and a HUGE amount of planning.
Wanderlust – This is the easy part – just read the blogs, get lost in the imagery and simply lust EVERY DAY! When you find a place that really intrigues you, do a little research on the web (including checking out A Wandering Memory of course!), I usually use the Lonely planet website and local tourist websites. I then view a few forums and really get a sense of if this is the location for me, what does it offer – can I really commit to this over everywhere else!. Having a family I usually look at the foreign commonwealth office too, just to check the safety element.
Dedication – Well that’s the tricky part – We WORK and we SAVE like crazy… My first trip around the world I worked 7 days a week for 2 years to afford it. Nowadays I don’t have that sort of drive – so I adopt a more manageable saving technique. I cut out the non-essentials such as excessive alcohol and partying, share car trips, curb eating out and essentially put a plan into place…. It’s amazing how much cheaper a dinner out is than a night out with the lads. There’s no science to it! The longer you save the more money you will have, the longer you can travel or in my case now the more you can spend on travel! ha…
Planning – This is the true secret to it! Yesterday I walked into a UK Travel agent called Thomas Cook and asked to see a few brochures on Turks and Cacaos (number 2 on my wanderlust list). It looks incredible, so I just floated the idea for 7 nights. What I got back really inspired me to write this blog £3500 each. £3500 EACH? Are you fucking kidding me? I spent less than that in a year travelling the world? Ok, ok times have changed, but £7000 for 2 people for 7 days is simply outrageous…
So the next step in my plan is to call some more flexible travel companies, you know Trailfinders, Flight centre, Statravel, those kinds-of companies. They usually are a bit more flexible on price and seem to hire people who actually have traveled, so you get more of a sense of knowledge and experience. This is where I usually get a sense of the best time of year to visit the place in question (High Season Vs Low Season).
Once I have a few quotes and ideas from them, the real fun begins. Always research the hotels listed, be it on Google, TripAdvisor or another review site (don’t take offence to all negative comments as people really can be fickle about the smallest things), so you can set your expectations. Then, when comfortable ask the agency to break the package out – so flights and hotels. This is where the real trick lies, as once you have those prices – online only websites play a vital role.
Flight wise – I always check Kayak and Skyscanner. These sites literally compare prices and dates of your requested flights over a huge number of websites and airlines directly. They are considered ‘flight comparison sites’ and are absolutely critical when finding a good deal.
Hotels wise – We usually use a number of websites including Expedia, Lastminute, Opodo, Trivago, Booking.com, laterooms, ebookers, hostelworld, hotels.com. It simply adds up to who has the cheaper price, for the location you want at the time of year suitable for you. Most of the time though Kayak will allow you to search for a package – so flight and hotel.
I know it sounds like a long drawn out process, but it never fails – Either you realize that the travel company is providing a competitive quote, or you see that you can book it cheaper yourself. I know many people have concerns about online companies, but we have never had a problem – Simply compare the package price and the single price, and book!
Using this process has saved Megan and I thousands over the years, one example I recall was we were quoted the Atlantis in Dubai £2500 by a travel agency and found it for £1450.
So moral of the story is that the holiday of your dreams is not necessarily as far away from your grasp as you may think…
I have been helping people with trips for the last 15 years, so if you want any advise please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or like and ask me on facebook