Often we read about people who shares about their budget travel and all. For me, it is an interesting read because you can get lots of ideas from their travel. Furthermore they share their experience and it is up to others to fully follow the ideas or adjust here and there to fit into own personal plan.
I am not an expert on budget traveling. I do travel on budget but there certain things that i am not willing to go that low just to save on expenses. Maybe due to the fact nowadays i am traveling with my wife and our 2 year old son. Priority change, style also changed. Here I want to share some of my personal experience in minimizing the cost. Not necessarily the cheapest way, but just a bit lower and more affordable.
I am not talking about the frequent flyer programme (although i will write something about it later), but more focused into the membership that some budget airlines offered. For instance i will take Wizz Air as an example (because i have experience using their service). They have a thing called wizz discount club. For EUR59.99 a year, you will be guaranteed minimum discount of EUR10 on each flight on all fares from EUR19.99, EUR5 discount on luggage and extended up to 5 passengers. For our recent trip to Budapest, i purchased the membership, and i got a discount of EUR70 (EUR60 for flights for 3 person return trip, EUR10 for check in luggage return) which in the end i save an extra EUR10. And i can use it for future purchase within one year (now looking for flights to Bucharest, Sofia etc.). It is a good deal especially when you are not traveling alone. You can also opt for the 2 person discount membership for EUR29.99. Can be applied to other airlines that have almost similar method.
There are a lot of loyalty programmes by the hotels especially the big chains. Me, myself has the Hilton Honors, SPG and Accor Hotels. First of all, yes these hotels are a bit expensive but they do have some sort of members only price from time to time and if you are lucky enough, free upgrades, free drinks, free dinner, free access, etc. Furthermore, sometimes out of 9 days of your trip, maybe, just maybe for one night you want to experience a really nice hotel hospitality.
Frequent Flyer Programme
This is the same advice i give to my friends as well. There are 3 big airlines alliance in the world, namely Star Alliance, One World and Skyteam. For people who travel frequently, should choose one airline from each alliance that you flown with frequently. I have frequent flyer for Enrich (Malaysia Airlines, One World), Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance) and Garudamiles (Garuda Air, Skyteam). So i could accumulate points for each time i flown with any of the airlines within these 3 alliance. It will come in handy when you want to upgrade or simply redeem tickets. I used to redeem Enrich points for flight ticket to Amsterdam. That really help in lowering down the cost for my travel back then. Instead of paying for two tickets, i just have to pay for 1 and half (even after redeem points, you still have to pay for charges). Other than that, some credit card points could be converted to the airlines points. For the airlines that is not part of any of the alliance, well just apply for the membership. You never know when you will be flying with them.
It is not a secret that airbnb is the latest solution for affordable accommodation while traveling. I have to agree to this to certain extend. In my case, it is perfect because of the selection it offered and the price range varies from one another. Also because traveling with a family, apartment will be a good option if you are on budget. I also advise my friend, not to worry too much about the location is not within the tourist area, as long as it is near to the public transport to the place of interest. Because, the price of the apartments also are affected by its location. Usually it will be slightly cheaper with better facility if you are a bit further. For instance Paris, rental for apartments that have a view of Eiffel Tower are slightly higher for apartment with the same type of facility but not with a view of Eiffel Tower. Just for instance. Therefore, when making a booking via airbnb, just make sure that it is near to the public transport within the zones where the public transport could be use for the same fare. If they have 24 hours public transport service, should also take into consideration coz you never know that you might want to have that night out sightseeing in the tram.
It is fun to go to Europe in summer as you have more daylight, the weather and all. But it is also the peak season. Choosing the season to go is also pertinent in cost reduction. Low season, such as winter will have most accommodation lowering their prices. Try to avoid Summer, but go towards the end of Summer and early Autumn. Good weather and better pricing for hotels, in the context of Europe or countries that have four season. But if you are looking for a good bargain for shopping, try February or end of winter, low season and a lot of sale.
Most of the cities nowadays offer tourist card to the tourist that combines public transport and some attraction for free or reduced price. It has to be planned along with your itinerary, what exactly you want to do. And try to localized your movement or segregate it along the places you want to go. Map plays an important role in this along with identifying each public transport station to ensure maximise movement. For us, we usually identify the furthest point that we want to go that particular day and re-track back to our hotel/ apartment. Save time, money and also less confusing and less tiring. It will also be good to segregate the places you want to enter and the places you just want to take picture. Taking pictures are pretty much touch and go and could be cramped together into a day. We did not take tourist card for every cities, usually more towards the daily public transport card.
Daily Public Transport Pass
First of all, there are two types according to cities, whether it is daily (for that particular day up till midnite) or 24 hours (round the clock starting from the time of validation). Be sure to differentiate the two because it can reduce the cost. And also have to plan about the days you are planning to stay coz you can buy 3 days pass for lower price than you have to pay daily. Also according to cities. Be sure to read carefully coz even EUR5 is a 4.8 times savings for Malaysian. I really like to highlight the currency value.
The above are some of my personal tips from my own personal experience. If it is practical, then feel free to follow, if not, feel free to not follow as well. This is just some part, next entry i might share about minimize the cost by arranging the connecting flights. That was one of my favorite part of traveling, arranging the flight/ train/ bus connection. Coz in the end, the target is clear, to minimize cost.