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How to get from Point A to Point B without getting broke

The journey continues! Through the travel-tips that is.

This time I’d like to talk about getting from point A to point B without spending too much money. Many don’t even bother to check different options, they just book whatever they come across first.

Being lazy is expensive

I was talking about this with two of my colleagues at work and they were two total opposites when it came to how they booked a trip.

The first one said that he didn’t have the time or patience to browse for deals. “I just get whatever I find first, I don’t care. I hate wasting time on that shit”. The other one was more like me, thought of it as a sport and as something fun and exciting.

The result of this was that the “bored” coworker booked a roundtrip flight to Rome in May for 260 EUR. That was without accomodation. Me and my other coworker went checking for flights to the same destination and the same dates – just for the fun of it. The result? We ended up getting flight tickets for TWO, roundtrip Copenhagen-Rome, AND 3 days accomodation only 1 km from the Colloseum, a nice place that had great reviews and there was only 1 room left. All this for a total of 320 EUR! Yes, that’s for 2 people and 3 days of stay.

So – it pays off checking. We paid only 87 EUR for a direct roundtrip route with Alitalia – our colleague paid 260 for the same trip. That’s 173 saved euros to do something better with, so why be lazy, it costs too much!

BY CAR

So what’s the best way to travel? That of course depends on where you’re going. If you are a group of friends who are going somewhere, why not just split the gas-cost and drive to your destination. You can get a gas-estimate (and directions) on www.viamichelin.com  It will also tell you if there are any tolls that you need to know about.

FLIGHT + RENTAL CAR

If you’re travelling alone, there are other options. If the gig is in some small town where there are no airports, check for the nearest airport on for instance http://www.travelmath.com/nearest-airport – the main airports are usually cheaper. Then, from there, either rent a car (cheap on weekends especially) take a bus or train to your final destination.

I usually prefer rental cars, because it gives me the freedom to come and go whenever I want. Especially for festivals, that are always in some godforsaken field in the middle of nowhere. But then again, I never drink for gigs.

To get the best rates – go to your destination’s airport page and check which car rentals you’ll find at the airport. Go to their respective websites and check prices. I also Google for discount codes for everything nowadays… So if you find a good price on, say Avis, Google for “Avis code” for instance. If there’s a special offer out there somewhere, you’ll find it that way.

More long-term, sign up for newsletters and “Like” pages on Facebook. They often offer special one-day prices to their subscribers only.

Instead of paying extra for a GPS every time you rent a car, buy your own on eBay or something. It was going to cost me hundreds of euro to upgrade my GPS-maps with USA-maps for instance. So I went on eBay and bought a used, simple TomTom GPS from a US seller, cost me about 20 dollars with postage and everything. I use it all the time now, and updating maps online is free. If you want extra features it’s still cheaper than updating maps on a european GPS. And it doesn’t have to be the latest and fanciest model either.

Another saving-aspect of renting a car, is that I sometimes choose to sleep in the car instead of paying for a hotel room. It all depends on the time of year and where I’m going. But I bring a small fleece-blanket and an inflatable pillow and sleep in there. Saves me a hotel night. But that’s only if it’s for one night. Otherwise I get a hotel or a hostel because I still want to be able to take a shower.

TRAIN

Trains are a good option also, especially in the UK. Cheap, fast and most of the time comfortable and convenient. You get directly to the city center – which saves you airport transfer costs. And it’s pretty fast. If you get the night-train, those are usually the cheapest tickets, and you have saved on a hotel night.

Where to check for train info? Again, all depends on where you’re going. Google is my best friend. In Germany it’s Deutsche Bahn www.db.de. In the UK it’s http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

BUS

Same thing with buses. If you arrive by plane, just check the airport website which bus-lines operate from there and onward.

And contact the venue to ask them for the best way to get there and how. They are usually helpful.

FLIGHTS

Flights then? That’s a whole jungle, but my main tips are:

Avoid searching for flights between Friday-Monday. That’s then it will be most expensive. Search Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – and try travelling when not everybody else is. That means, in the middle of the week, very early in the morning (just make sure that there is transfer to the airport, that can sometimes be an issue in some cities) or late in the evening. This will give you the best deals. Also, plan ahead. The more a flight sells out, the more expensive the ticket’s gonna be.

Enrolling in a frequent flyer program is free, but you can get many benefits. Earning points is an easy way to getting either a discount on your trips or even free flights, depending on how often or how far you fly. If you have an opportunity to choose a credit card with the program it’s even easier to collect miles.

I’ve got an American Express SAS Eurobonus card for instance. That means that every time I use the card to buy anything – groceries, go to the movies, anything at all, I get points. So last year I redeemed 3 free trips within Europe thanks to that. And I was only buying what I needed to buy on a daily basis anyway. So, check if the main airline that you’re travelling with has a similar option, it will save you money in no time.

Even if you use a search engine that compares prices, also try two-three similar services because the prices can still vary. Also try the airlines’ own websites and compare the same dates and destinations.

Phew, there’s a lot to think about – but the bottom line is, you can travel without getting broke, if you’re just smart and find your own ways to save a buck or two. And there is more where that came from, so stick around for the next travel-blog…

Written by Daniela P.