Have you noticed anything different around here? Well I really hope you have as this week has caused me nothing but stress and rage as I migrated my blog over to WordPress and finally take the plunge to go self-hosted. I’d love to say it was as easy a process as some blog posts led me to believe but well… it just wasn’t. I’m already head over heels in love with the features of WordPress though and I’m really regretting not ditching Blogger sooner. Hopefully you can bear with me while I iron out the glitches, weed out the dead links and sport this gnarly temporary theme over the next few weeks. It’s all very much a work in progress. But let’s be honest you came here for the money-saving hacks so we’ll just cut straight to that, shall we?
When it comes to explaining how I afford to travel, there are three very basic pieces of advice I tend to dish out first:
- Travel off-peak
- Don’t be picky about where you travel to
- Travel with hand luggage only
The biggest challenge people face when trying to book budget travel is finding cheap flights so this advice is great if you’re happy to go with the best deal from Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ function. But it doesn’t help much in the summer, at the weekend or in fact during any school holiday. A shame considering I’m engaged to a teacher and travelling anywhere off-peak is nigh on impossible for us.
I’m normally pretty happy to travel anywhere the cheap air fare takes me. I wanted to go to Berlin for my birthday but a weekend in Hamburg was half the price and I’d quite happily pick a Polish town I’ve never heard of over the likes of Prague and Amsterdam if it were cheaper. But this summer I had my heart set on Slovenia. I wanted to swim in the glacial waters of Lake Bled, hike through the mountains and spend lazy afternoons reading outside a summer cabin without a single soul to disturb me. Trouble was I wanted all of that in August when – as it turns out – so does the rest of Europe. So there I was about to drop more than £600 on two hand luggage only flights to Ljubljana for Tom and I when suddenly my brainwave struck!
Maybe the best way of finding cheap flights to Slovenia was to book a flight to neighbouring Croatia?! It sounds ridiculous but it was! SO much cheaper! In fact it was almost half the price – £300 cheaper (!) – to fly in and out of Zagreb. We’d just need to book a 2.5 hour, 20€ bus journey to take us from Zagreb to Ljubljana. That price included baggage for me to carry all the summer outfits I’d started planning weeks before we’d even booked the damn thing and we’d get to visit Croatia again! This plan was sounding better and better by the minute!
This isn’t the first time that this trick has worked for me. I’ve used it in reverse before too. When we flew to Athens in November (again during a school holiday) it worked out much cheaper for us to take a train down to London, stay overnight in a hotel and fly from Stansted the next morning than it would have done to take an indirect flight from Manchester. I always check flights from Liverpool, Leeds Bradford and London just in case.
It can be a ball ache and it won’t be practical every time, but I’ll take any extra Euros I can for my holiday shopping fund. A girl’s gotta look good while she’s stretched out on the balcony necking a bottle of cheap European wine y’know. When you think about it, it’s not all that different from taking a Ryanair flight to Milan, Brussels, Oslo or Barcelona and landing in the arse end of nowhere.
Would you ever use this method of saving money on air fare? Maybe you have some other tricks for finding cheap flights that you could share? Let us know in the comments!