Travelling can be one of the most expensive hobbies, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling. This means that a lot of students are probably missing out on some great adventures they could be going on instead of cramming for school all day. Which is ironic, considering that travelling is a great way to relieve stress after a day of cramming.
Finding a place to rest takes the biggest chunk out of vacation money. My go-to site for finding a cheap hotel is hotels.ca. They have discounts on top of discounts that other booking sites already have. They also offer personalized “secret” discounts for every user, meaning that you can get discounts that are specific to only your account. Not to mention their price match guarantee, and the 1 free night you get for every 10 nights you stay at a hotel booked from their site. Of course, they have more choices than just hotels, you can get motels, B&Bs, hostels, cabins, etc..
If you don’t want to spend money on any sort of accommodation, you can try couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is to hotels like Uber is to taxi, except it’s totally free. After making an account on couchsurfing, you select the city you want to stay in and then browse through the list of locals who are offering their home to travelers.
Some of you may shy away from the thought of staying in a stranger’s house for free, all the users offering their extra space for travelers are also travelers themselves. The locals all have ratings and comments on their profiles for you to determine how friendly and safe they are. The site itself has been used by 14 million people worldwide, and many travelers swear by the site as a great free resource for accommodation.
Unless you plan to backpack, drive or bus to your location, just getting to the destination can be half your travel budget, especially if you intend to go overseas.
Secretflying is probably the cheapest flight deals site I’ve found so far. The best way to use this site is to find current deals on flights and then plan your trip around the flight. If there is a place you want to go to specifically, you can use this site for that purpose. But, if you just want to experience a new place, planning a trip around a flight will get you cheaper deals.
When you get to the site’s homepage, click on the country tab that applies to you to see all the current deals. Most of the departures will be from major cities in your country, so you might have to do a bit of pre-travel traveling to get to the airport listed in the deal if you live far away from a major city.
Here’s an example of a Canada deal:
We all know that Google is the king of search aggregation, so of course, it would be the king of finding the cheapest price for your trip, since it has its search crawlers located in every website that exists on the internet. Yet not many people even think of using their official flights page for finding a flight. Or are even aware that it exists.
Google flights is jam-packed with all the tools you need to find a budget flight. Including prices listed for every day when you open the calendar for choosing the departure date; a price graph with future price predictions for the course of a year; and a chart that helps you choose the absolute cheapest combination of departure and return dates within a week of the time you want to head out.
Not budget related, but if you scroll over the wifi icon of one of the flights listed. Google Flights will even tell you how strong the wifi will be on the airplane during that specific flight.
With these two sites, you don’t have to worry about remembering high and low seasons, Secretflying and Google Flights can do all that work for you.
Absolutely do not, by any means, purchase tours or hire tour guides (unless the place is only accessible through the tour). Some can range up to and over $100. If you absolutely cannot plan at all, but still want to make the most of the place you visit. There’s an easy way to let technology do the work for you.
Under the Day Plans tab you’ll find a few pre-made routes to check out, you choose from one of those and then edit the trip to your heart’s content. The pre-made routes are all complete with locations, detailed descriptions, and exact opening and closing hours of all the listed places, as well as other information pulled in from Google Maps.
Once you open up a pre-made route, go ahead and edit it. Delete spots you don’t want to visit, or add places that you do want to visit from the spatter of blue dots that Google deems worthy of visiting. If you pin sights that you really want to visit, and then press the refresh icon, Google will switch up the unpinned sites to new sites based on what you do want to see. In other words, Google will help you find places to check out based on your personal preferences.
Things to do
If you want to see a full list of places to visit, tap on “Things to do” which will give you a list of… things to do. Travelling doesn’t get any easier than that. If there’s a place that you love and you want to save it, open up the description of the site under the “Things to do” or the “Day Plan” tab and then select the star icon.
Transportation, Food, and Key Information
The “Getting around”, “Food & Drink”, and “Need to know” are what I like to call the info tabs. The first tab contains key information about the different transportation options, bus passes, bike share programs, taxi fees, and even the price of taking an Uber from the airport to downtown.
The food tab has an overview of local specialties, popular cuisines in the area, and even nightlife info. It also has restaurants organized by categories just like Google Maps. Finally, the third tab has a summary of the most popular shopping malls in the city.
If you want to try some extreme traveling you can try stealth camping, otherwise known as urban camping, is a recent and exciting form of camping where you pitch a tent in urban areas. Stealth camping has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years by travelers as a cheap and exciting alternative to staying in a hotel.
With an emphasis on the “stealth” part in stealth camping. It’s best not to just set your tent or sleeping bag up on the sidewalk, the likelihood of getting noticed by police officers or onlookers is a lot higher not to mention that setting up right on the sidewalk is illegal in most cities. Stealth camping usually means camping in public parks with a lot of trees, or finding isolated areas and empty lots. Of course, you could also just stealth camp right in your car, a lot easier and much more discreet, and definitely very legal. You might be thinking that stealth camping is something you should only do if you’re desperate, but a lot of travelers will stealth camp just for fun. Stealth camping is also great if you just want to experience your city in a whole new way.
Resources you can use to learn all the ins and outs of stealth camping:
- Bicycle Touring Pro: 50 Stealth Camping Super Tips – A great list of advice for anyone wanting to enter the world of stealth camping.
- How to Urban Camp – You can never go wrong with a WikiHow tutorial.
- Raw Safari: The Rookie Guide to Urban Camping – Written by a digital nomad who travels the world.
Again, this might be a little too thrilling for some travelers, but it’s definitely a viable method!
Whether its based on a shoestring budget or an expensive cruise, you can plan for any trip with the right resources.