Travel like it’s 1999 – Cheap Travel Tips from backpackers

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

Here’s a few travel tips for cheap credit crunch travel brought to you by people who travel on the cheap by necessity - backpackers and young travellers who have to make the most of their money.

The thriftiest backpackers can get by on less than ten dollars a day, and though that may not be everyone’s cup of airline tea, their harsh budget has taught them some useful money saving tips which are worth even the most luxurious traveller’s attention during the belt tightening, holiday canceling credit crunch.

Getting your head down for less

Flashpackers or posh-hostellers are a more discerning class of backpacker who have done the hostel industry a big favour by expecting more, so that now there are hostels around that five-star-only travellers would be happy to admit to staying in. Hotel Grace on Times Square has a first class business centre and an indoor pool with its own DJ and bar, Rooms Delux in Valencia doesn’t have dorm rooms, but instead ensuit-ed private rooms with communal living quarters nicer than a lot of people’s homes, and Miss Sohpie’s in Prague is a white and minimalist dream with modern bathrooms shimmering silverly and more private rooms than communal space. After all, most of us don’t travel planning to spend a lot of time in our hotel room, and it has become de rigeur for hostels to provide free breakfast and internet access – another saving off the usual hotel bill.

Give something to get something back

Volunteering, once the prerogative of the wealthy gap year student, welcomes all and can be a cheaper way to get to see some of the world’s most interesting places. Most placements aren’t free, but the cost generally includes your accommodation and keep and though you have to work, you can find yourself doing things like helping baby turtles on their first journey into a tropical sea, nursing poorly orang utans on a tropical island or counting jeweled crabs or swimming with seals in the Galapagos – yet another paradise. So as well as traveling you’re doing your karma no harm either.

Getting around for less

Backpackers all know that getting around can take a hefty chunk out of your budget. If you usually cab it consider public transport – the first time is the hardest time but once you crack the public transport network (and all you really need is an English map), you can save yourself a mint. If you usually rent a car consider hiring a bike instead - some European cities are currently trialing free bike hire - and if you’re only going a short distance walk it – it’s the best way to see a place.
If you’re traveling between cities there are also different price options. To get the lowest price you often need to travel in a chicken coop train or on a bus. Neither options are particularly pleasant but think of the people you’ll meet and the stories you’ll be able to tell and how exotic your travels will seem in retrospect. The other way to save holiday money is to road trip it from the start, camping as you go.

Good timing saves money

Psssst…. Each city has its own free secrets. The Louvre has free entry on the first Sunday of the month, while the Vatican and Sistine Chapel are free on the last Sunday. Berlin’sPerganon Museum is free on Thursday nights and Prague’sNational Gallery is free on the first Wednesday of the month.
Surprisingly some of the world’s great attractions are always free. St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Pauls Cathedral, St. Patrick’s, The Pantheon, St. Basil’s and Notre Dame top the list of famous freechurches, but a lot of parks and National Parks are free to visit as well. As are a fair swathe of London’s museums... and the Tate Modern and the National Gallery... Proving there are bargains available in even the most expensive of cities.

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