So I went on an impromptu weekend trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. This is obviously very spontaneous, I had nothing booked, and I don’t normally do this. In future I will be following these steps better and am trying to apply them now. How these work for you is dependent on how you like to travel. At least one should be helpful though.
- Plan Ahead
If you want cheaper flights, accommodations, or anything, planning and booking ahead is essential. Does that mean you need a year or even six months? No. Even a month is way better. If I were taking a round trip, weekend flight from London to Edinburgh next month it could be as little as £60 or about $80. Of course depending on where you choose your flight it could fluctuate a little. If I flew out this Friday it would be almost £200 or about $260.
- Substitute Some Comforts
Since we didn’t plan ahead even our train tickets would have been £140 each. However, instead of going early Friday morning on a four hour and forty minute trip there, we left on Thursday night. This Thursday night trip there saved us £30 pounds each. We ended up leaving at 11:50 at night and got to Edinburgh at 7:45 Friday morning. Since it was an overnight trip we didn’t need to pay for another night, still got to sleep, and were there bright and early Friday morning. If we had stayed with the more expensive train we would have had a nicer night sleep and less time on the train, but we wouldn’t have gotten there until 1:00 PM.
- Stay in a Hostel, Motel, or Bed and Breakfast
I’ll be honest, I am spoiled. I love hotels. If I can’t stay in a hotel I’m sad. I would also take a shorter vacation at a nicer hotel. That’s just the kind of person I am. However, they are not good if you want a cheap trip and since right now I’m just a broke college student looking to explore another country for the weekend that doesn’t work. Can you find a cheap hotel? Yes, but it isn’t always worth the extra money at that point. Instead you should look for other local options: Bed and Breakfasts, Motels, and Hostels.
Depending on where you are planning on traveling, some of these options won’t be applicable. For instance, I am sure there are hostels in the U.S. but you will be hard-pressed to find a bed and breakfast, at least in Florida. In that case motels are the easiest to find. I’ve stayed in a motel by Disney for around $50 a night. I think it was for a really late movie premiere or event when I was younger.
If you are traveling in Europe, bed and breakfasts and hostels are easy to find. On my school trip to Cornwall we stayed in a hostel. There were also a lot of other options as well as bed and breakfasts around. Edinburgh is the same. Depending on where they are, you can get things for as little as €20 a night. A few bed and breakfasts my family stayed at in Ireland were about €20 to €30 a night. That’s only $35 at the high end.
- Be Careful at Air B and B’s
We ended up staying at an Air B and B, however it was extremely awkward since we were renting a room and the people who lived there stayed. We also ran into some other problems that will be discussed in my trip post. I have nothing against Air B and B. I have used them in the past and will use them again. I do think that being incredibly careful, making sure a host gives you all the rules, and having the owners not present makes for a more pleasant experience.
- Know what you want to do
You don’t need to know everything, but knowing a few things you want to do can be a life, or should I say trip, saver. For starters, buying tickets ahead of time saves you money on your trip. The second and most important benefit is, you actually get tickets. There are a lot of things that get booked up fast or even a few months in advance.
- Plan on walking
As you probably know cabs are incredibly expensive. Some cities have good public transport you can use. I’ve been in London for a little over a month and I love the bus system, but a lot of little rides add up. It’s £1.50 a ride, one a day for a week adds up to £10.50. Unless it’s really late or you’re going a far distance it’s not worth it. In most cases a half hour walk when not in a hurry is just more economical. Plus, it helps when you are indulging on delicious cuisine.
- Don’t stress or Over-plan
The goal is to see new things and have fun. If you over-plan every second and then stress about doing everything or not having enough to do you won’t enjoy the experience. Make sure you do the things you have booked, but don’t add ten million things to your to do list. You may be dealing with jet lag or just exhaustion. You may find you want to walk around and explore or have a relaxed morning. Your trip will be a lot nicer with the freedom to do what you want.
Bonus tip: Go with someone
If you like to travel alone that is great. I have yet to try it, but I know I will eventually. Also, I am definitely a fan of doing my own thing and having alone time. It’s more that some experiences are better shared. I don’t mean to go with just anyone. If your friend or close family want to go it could make the whole thing that much better. Plus, you’ll have someone to share the bill with. There is also safety in numbers. I know that I feel a lot better knowing I won’t be sharing a room with only strangers while at a hostel.