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Travelling on a Budget ::

How to save time and money - Finding & Booking Flights

There are many options for searching and buying tickets, whether through a travel agent, direct or on the internet. Each has its own advantages, so my advice is to shop around. Try to travel early or late to avoid peak-season prices. These can be double what you would normally pay! 

When asking for prices, compare the same journey if possible as even slight changes to airports, departure times, etc. can have a big difference. By doing this you will get a basic idea as to the price you will need to pay. Then you can go searching for the bargains...

There are now quite a few 'consolidators' around that buy tickets in bulk from airlines then sell them for cheaper prices. Some will also offer special discounts for students, or those buying several tickets for a round-the-world trip. EBay is also auctioning seat-tickets at the moment, with no reserve price!

You can find consolidators in your local phone book, or here are a few ideas:

You must now have heard about the new breed of low-cost airlines. Basically, they offer a very no-thrills package (you thought economy class was basic!), which does not usually include in in-flight meal or drinks. The leg room may also be reduced. In my opinion, taking a lunchbox full of scrumptious food is better than 'airline cottage pie' any day!

Little Tips

  1. Book your first couple of nights accommodation before you leave! When you get to your location, you'll be absolutely knackered, and trying to find somewhere decent will take a lot of energy. Find out from friends about recommended places, or check out travelogues. You can usually book your room/bunk from home with a credit card over the phone. If possible, ask for a receipt and map to make things easier when you get there!
  2. Use other people to help you. In YHAs and other backpacking lodges, you will usually find a log-book, full of advice of where to stay, where to visit,etc. They may even have ways to save money (I've been given secret words to say - very James Bond!)
  3. Do your own cooking. You may be taking your own stove with you, but if not most hostels will have free cooking facilities. Buy your groceries locally (markets are the cheapest), then get creative over the hob. Not only can you cook what you want, but you can eat as much as you want!
  4. Flash your student card. Make sure you have a International Student ID card with you at all times. You can get them locally (university travel shops are good places) and they are accepted in most places. Many shops in larger towns will offer a 10-20% discount for using them - I think they feel sorry for us!
  5. Use your Debit Card. Check out the fees before you leave. Although they may charge you 1-2% on foreign transactions, this may be cheaper than the local bureau. Large banks also offer better exchange rates, or you may find an international bank which are almost certain to offer good rates. 
  6. Watch out for those minimum charges when changing cash or travellers cheques - ouch! If you are staying in one area for a while, change more cash, and leave it in a safety deposit box.
  7. Use public phone boxes. Although these are expensive, they are often much cheaper than hotel phones. Hostel phones are usually OK, but to get an even cheaper deal, try a phone card. Most phone rates are cheaper if you use a card, and it saves carrying cash. You can now get combination cards which offer voicemail, fax forwarding - the works.
  8. Email is cheaper. As well as costing less than an international call, friends and family do not need to be awake in the middle of the night to talk to you.
  9. Use the Embassy. Keep a copy of your passport and travel docs at your local embassy, along with contact details for your insurance company. If you get anything stolen, this should save you lots of time.

Hopefully, you've now got some ideas on how to get the most out of your hard-earned cash. You will soon pick up your own ideas on how to save money, and why not help others out by posting a few tips on our message boards.

Happy Packing!


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