By PATRICK CAMPBELL.
For most of us youth, everything we do is on a budget. Going out on the town, buying clothes, getting food, and travelling. Especially travelling.
We all dream of going on that once in a lifetime trip to Coachella, but let’s be honest, that’s just probably not going to happen for us right now, at this time in our lives.
So how you can get the most out of a holiday without breaking the bank? Here are my top 14 tips for travelling on a budget, and having a cheap but fun holiday.
#1. Plan, a least a little bit
Know why you want to go somewhere and budget around that activity first. Do some research online, at travel agents and by asking around any friends or family who have been to your chosen destination before.
#2. Travel off-season, for the best deals
Everyone wants to head to the coast in the summer and the mountains in the winter. Forgo the peak season – with its peak prices – for a quieter experience. It’ll cost you less, it’ll be less crowded, and you’ll get a whole different perspective on your destination than most people would get.
#3. Go by bus
It might take a little longer, but at least you’ll have money to do stuff when you’re there. Taking the bus is also a sweet way to see the countryside.
#4. Stay with friends
This isn’t always an option but when it is, use it. If it isn’t, choose a place to suit your holiday; if you want to just hang around the place you are staying and relax, choose somewhere to treat yourself; if it’s just a bed you need, then look for somewhere with just the basics. Like anything though, a bad choice in where to stay can ruin everything, so read reviews and choose well.
#5. Eat in when possible
Obviously you will have to go out and eat dinner with friends occasionally for the experience and for practicality, but if you have cooking facilities available to you, use them. Buying some basic foodstuffs to cook ‘at home’ with can cut down costs and means that you can use the saved money on a few nicer meals when you are out and about.
#6. Don’t start shopping right away
This is so important. Majority of the things you want to buy will be there in a week or two, and some might be available at home too. Make a list of the things you want to buy when you see them, and wait until the last few days to spend. This way, you will have a far more realistic budget for shopping and you won’t run out of money.
#7. Budget each day
You should go on your trip knowing how much money you have available, and spread that evenly between days. If you are doing certain more expensive activities on a particular day, just adjust the budget accordingly. A rough estimate of what you can spend on a day makes it so much easier to keep your spending in check.
#8. Avoid massive tourist attractions that have high admission prices
If there is somewhere you really want to go, budget for it, but avoid trying to see everything. In every city there are a lot of really fun and cool things that won’t cost you money at all. For example, lots of galleries and museums are free or cheap as chips and filled with so much more culture and fun times than a water park. Do your research.
#9. Don’t live a lifestyle you can’t afford
Sometimes we neglect to realise that we have $20 in our account and start shouting burgers like we are absolute ballers. We are not; we are students who survive on mince on toast and live the coffee card life.
#10. There are cheap and free gigs on every night, all over the place
Just because you can’t afford a meal out or the door fee on clubs, doesn’t mean you can’t go out. Heaps of venues have live music and there are always pop-up shows around. These are always a great atmosphere and fun vibe.
#11. Ask the locals
There is no better person to ask where to go than a local. When you’re getting that coffee (and asking yourself whether or not you should be buying that in the first place!), ask your barista what there is to do in the area. They know the secrets of their hometown, so let them tell you where the fun places are, or where you can find a cheap but decent meal.
#12. Learn the public transport system
The thing about NZ is that our public transport system is kind of terrible. Many places in the Western World aren’t that bad. If you learn the public transport system as soon as you get into town, you’ll be set for your trip. Pick up their equivalent of a HOP card and you’ll make some solid savings.
#13. Look online for deals
There are always deals available online that can save you a heap of cash. Make use of these – nobody is going to call you a cheapskate for getting a half price shuttle to the airport and back!
#14. Invest in a discount card
There are a few on offer. STA have a great one for 18 to 30 year olds, giving discounts on hundreds of activities, accommodation and even flights. It is definitely worth the investment. We’ll talk more on discount cards in a later edition of Student Travel.
More than anything, travelling is about new experiences and enjoying yourself. No matter where you go in the world, you can find these things in abundance without emptying your wallet. All you have to do is look a little bit harder, which is part of the fun!
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