If you’ve read my bucket list you’ll notice how much of it involves travel – even many of the activities are location-specific. In fact, one item on the list is to visit 100 countries. This could be both expensive and time-consuming.
So let’s look at the expense first. Clearly everyone’s list will be different and so will the costs involved. I am based in the UK and so I have already visited many European countries, while my ‘gaps’ are in Latin America, Africa and Asia. That makes them expensive for me.
Wherever you live there are numerous cheap airlines, bus and train deals which can dramatically reduce the cost of travel – particularly if you can be flexible about dates and avoid busy periods like school holidays.
One of the best ways to get cheap flights, apart from the budget airlines, is to play the air miles game. All airlines have a loyalty scheme and most of them have partner airlines so you don’t have to join them all. Collecting these miles and using them against future flights is a great way to travel.
British Airways have even introduced a scheme to reduce the often-crippling taxes and surcharges which inevitably get added to what would otherwise be a cheap or free flight.
So for example I’m flying to Dublin later this month for 9000 Avios points (BA’s name for air miles) and paying a flat fee of £27 (41USD) return. It’s that price for the whole of Europe although the points tariff rises as the distance increases. You can see full details of the scheme here.
But I appreciate building up the air miles in the first place can be a problem. Again look out for deals. Many credit card companies give you a disproportionate amount of air miles just for signing up for a card. You can then cancel the card having pocketed the miles.
The other significant cost can be hotels. Perhaps looking at hotels slightly below your usual standard would also be worth considering. I’ve probably lost some of my readers with that comment who are saying things like ‘I’m not going anywhere where I can’t plug in my hair straighteners’ or ‘I am not staying in an hotel that doesn’t serve G&T before dinner’.
So for those of you still reading. Think about it. How long are you usually in the hotel? You want a clean comfortable room with decent plumbing and capable of providing a breakfast to get your day started. Does it really need a spa, gym, fully stocked bar or a cordon bleu chef?
The purpose of your trip is to see the place you’re visiting, not to relax and enjoy the hotel facilities. I don’t want you to think of these trips as merely ticking another place off the list – you are world travelers not train spotters. You are there to enjoy every minute and to see and experience as much of the place as you can but it’s likely to be a relatively short stay so save your money for the unique features of the place, entrance to places of interest, sampling the local food or tours to nearby features, and cut back a little on the hotel.
I’m not going to try to replicate Lonely Planet or any of the other excellent websites which guide visitors to hotels and restaurants to suit their budget but if anyone has good suggestions for hotels or good restaurants – particularly near any of the notable places of interest – I’d love to hear them.
So here’s one to get us started. The Golden Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a real gem at about £45 (70 USD) per room per night and an ideal place to be based while visiting the incredible Angkor Wat complex. There are also rooms for £6 (10 USD) further down the same street but I’ve no idea what they are like!
If travel is your passion and your funds are not unlimited then why not consider trimming back on the cost of each trip and do more trips.