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I travel a lot.
It’s no surprise when I have a travel blog.
I’ve been to over 60 countries in my life. I’ve travelled almost non-stop since 2015 and since working online full time since 2021, I’ve changed location almost every month.
With all that travelling comes, not only a lot of frequent flier points, but a lot of knowledge that I realise I take for granted. I’ve had any people ask me recently for travel tips, about the best way to do this or that, something to me is now second nature, but something I realise isn’t normal to people who may only take one trip per year.
In my quest to be as open as possible, I’ve listed my top travel tips I’ve learnt after years on the road hoping that you can take some away with you and use it on your next trip!
Check out each section below:
Travel Tips for Before You Go
How to Book Cheap Flights
Taking a flight to your destination could be one of the biggest expenses of your travels. Reducing this expense can make your experience significantly cheaper.
If you don’t know where to go, but you just want somewhere cheap there is an extra hack for you.
Head to Skyscanner.com, the go to place to search for flights.
Enter the airport closest to you as your departure airport. For your destination, type “Everywhere”. You can even search for the entire month so that it gives you the cheapest flights on any date if you are flexible with booking.
With the example above, this also searches form multiple airports. London has four major airports and with this feature it will search all of them
AirBnB has weekly and monthly discounts
AirBnB is one of the most popular booking platforms in the world. If you see a nightly price you like and want to stay for six days, it may actually be cheaper to book a seventh and get a weekly discount. There are also monthly discounts starting from 28 days in the same accommodation for those looking to stay longer, such as digital nomads, this can be a real lifesaver. In some cases, it could be as much as 70% off for a monthly stay! Make sure to play with your dates in order to trigger weekly or monthly discounts. Sometimes, viewing the individual listing will reveal an even greater discount than is visible from the map view.
Negotiate Directly with AirBNB Hosts for Even Greater Savings
Another great way to snag discounts is to negotiate directly with AirBNB Hosts, who are allowed to send you “special offers” at rates of their choosing. For best results, find several AirBNBs with similar specs and write a short message to each host, stating your ideal budget (within reason – think 20-30% off for a weekly stay, 25-40% off for a monthly stay). You can also ask for them to waive the service fee if you’re looking for just a small discount. Often, at least one host will reply with a “special offer” inviting you to book at your proposed price.
To negotiate with hosts directly, use AirBNB’s search feature to input your destination and dates, check out individual listings in the area of your choice, using the map view, and then look for the “Message Host” button when you view each listing (you have to scroll a bit to find it).
Some sample text for beginnings:
“Hi! I’m a remote worker traveling on my own to Kuala Lumpur for June 1 – 30. Your place looks ideal for me, and I was wondering if you would be able to meet my budget of MYR 2500 including fees and taxes? I’m a very responsible and tidy guests, see my previous reviews :). Thanks very much for your consideration!”
Note: This isn’t allowed in the T&C’s of the website but is still a frequent practice. You may need to reach out to a few before getting a reponse.
Using loyalty points
Having a credit card (that you pay off in full each month) that earns points, or earning points with an airline, can be a great way to save money on flights.
Don’t start dreaming of lounges, champagne and business class straight away, but after a long time of frequent flying, that is definitely an option.
At the lower end of the scale, even a new credit card or some shorter flights will get you £10-20 off a flight.
Getting to know your airline, aircraft and seat for the best flight possible
Seat 11A in Ryanair is infamous for not having a window. So much so, it has it’s own social media account.
By using seatguru.com before you depart, you can check out what seats work for you, where they are on the plane and if there are any positives or negatives to them. With that, I have been able to pick and choose emergency exit row seats.
If you want to pre book your seat, this website is a lifesaver advising you where and when to book so you don’t miss out on those window seat views.
Check baggage fees on airlines
You’ve found a bargain priced flight. After seeing how cheap it is, you have to book it there and then.
However, that doesn’t take into account any luggage fees. Budget European airlines even charge for hand luggage these days. I recently checked out a flight on Wizz Air. £20 for the flight but £100 for a carry on bag. That’s crazy money. I then checked with other airlines and although the original price was more expensive, it worked out cheaper if I wanted to take a bag.
Read my take whether budget airlines really are cheaper?
At the Airport
I’m a big fan of carry on only packing. Not only do you need less than you think you need, it can also save money in the long run.
All those budget airline baggage fees soon add up. If you are travelling long term, by only taking carry on, you can save a significant amount of money.
Not only that, it is so much easier to walk around a city with a small backpack than a large suitcase. Have you ever tried to pull a wheely suitcase along the cobbled streets of Milan? Or the unusual pavements of Kuala Lumpur?
Take a small backpack, save your money and your time.
At security, get behind the business travellers, not families
I may annoy some people with kids here, but it’s just a fact that they take longer to get through security than others. Having more people do something that they aren’t used to doing, (this may be their one time of the year at an airport) means that that it will just take more time.
If there is a queue with what looks like single business travellers, odds are that they travel frequently, know the rules and can manage to take their jacket off, unload their coins and pull their liquids bag out all in one swift move. I would take standing behind 10 of those than one family any day.
Use public transport to get from your airport to your accommodation
Public transport is almost always cheaper than a taxi or a private transfer. Depending on your destination, there may even be multiple public transport options from your airport.
A taxi may be perfect for convenience as it will drop you at your door. But the price could be extortionate, especially if you don’t know what the going rate is at a destination.
Hotels may offer an airport pick up. Fantastic for convenience, but not so good on your wallet.
Public transport, taking a bus or train to and from the airport, is almost always cheaper. In Oman, a bus from the airport was 1.50 Omani Rials (about £3.70, $4USD) whereas a taxi was more than double that. And in Marrakech, I walked 100m and got a bus for 4 dirhams, (30p or $0.40USD) instead of a taxi for 10 times that price.
Research ahead before you arrive to check the prices of all of the options of getting from the airport to where you’re staying.
Take advantage of airline sales to get good deals
Believe it or not, airlines and travel companies have sales on. Their most popular time for sales in the UK is in January just like every other business.
Don’t expect any last minute bargains or budget deals in school holidays, but if your dates are flexible, you may be able to get some cheap flights for May or October in the traditional European shoulder season.
Tour companies also have sales on around this time.
Sign up to email alerts for your favourite airlines, travel agents and tour companies to find some great deals and get in before everyone else sees the adverts on TV.
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On the ground at your destination
Book tours when you get there
Booking tours in your home country is more expensive that booking them when you get abroad with a local tour guide. Yes it might be fantastic to book everything all at once whilst sitting in your comfy lounge, but there are great deals to be had on the road.
One of the first tours I went on was a trip in the Himalayas. It cost about £200 for a 10 day tour in around Himachal Pradesh in the far north of India. I booked it through a guy I met in my hostel and paid him direct.
No middle men, no commission, nothing fancy.
I then looked at a similar tour booked through a UK tour company and would cost well into the 4 figures. These guys have commissions to pay and office space and wages in London to factor in to the price.
For those that aren’t aware, many lines of commission are paid when booking indirectly. So spend wisely and get a good deal whilst making sure your money goes into the pockets of locals.
Book a Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours are available in almost every city, especially in Europe.
These work on a tips based system where they are free to sign up but you pay what you want at the end of the tour. Some tours will normally recommend an amount, in my experience, between €3-€10 but you are free to pay whatever you want. I wouldn’t recommend it, but you could walk away without paying if you wanted.
Not only are these a great way to see the city, you are helping a local run a small business. Their knowledge is normally extraordinary. They can also be used as place to gain valuable knowledge on where to go. Looking for the best bar or restaurant? Ask your guide. As a local, they will tell you and honest opinion, not one where they gain the most commission.
Finally, most of the people on these tours are backpackers or other budget travellers that are also looking to connect with like minded people. I’ve lost count of the number of friends I have made on free walking tours by suggesting going somewhere after the tour ends. Occasionally, the tour guide will even go with you!
The instagram generation is here and there is no stopping it.
And I am guilty of it as well.
But is it a bad thing?
Dressing up in a white dress and floppy hat in the rice fields of Bali is a terrible idea, or asking somebody to move because they themselves are enjoying a mountain view is rude in my opinion.
But if it doesn’t harm anyone then snap away. Take as many photos as you want.
I’ve never heard anyone come back from their travels saying “I wish I took fewer photos”.
The first time you go to a new region, your senses will be heightened and everything will be a culture shock. Your eyes will see things you’ve never seen before. And you will never get that experience back. Take photos of it all and remember what you’ve seen.
See a weird looking flower? Take a photo.
An amazing view? Take a photo.
That amazing dinner that’s so exotic (which later turns out to be rice and beans)? Take a photo.
Asking 25 people to move so you can pose in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa pretending to push it over…. maybe don’t take that photo…
Don’t dress like a tourist
I don’t want to get into the traveller vs tourist debate here. But sometimes it stands out.
One of my most recent memories of this was in Marrakech.
There were the boys away for the weekend with their sharp haircuts, whiter than white trainers, shorts and designer t shirt.
I was wearing trousers and an old black T shirt.
Guess who got hassled in the market more?
And from a safety point of view, if I were a nastier person, who am I more likely to mug or attempt to steal from? The person that looks like wealth, or the average Joe walking down the street?
I still try and dress well in certain situations, but most of the time, trying not to stand out is by far the best strategy.
Be savvy with ATM fees
This is a relatively new trick, but is especially prevalent in European cities.
You go to the ATM to take some cash out. Instead of taking out foreign currency and getting charged those pesky foreign exchange fees by your bank, the friendly ATM asked if you would just like to withdraw an amount on the screen that is in your local currency!
Except, check that exchange rate before you hit accept. This new rate could be up to a 10% mark up on the money you want to take out. Wayyy more than what your bank would normally charge for a FX fee.
I try and avoid any ATM anywhere that isn’t from an actual nationally recognised bank. Euronet ATM’s in Europe are the worst, but around the world, many more ATM’s have a bad reputation unless from a bank that works in that country.
Try using a Wise card or similar to avoid ATM fees when travelling.
(If you are looking for a card that doesn’t charge ATM or currency fees abroad, I highly recommend Wise which I have now used in over 15 countries! Use this link to start saving abroad now!)
After being on the road for more than 8 years, I’ve got quite a list of experiences and travel tips that can help any novice traveller.
These aren’t you’re usual things about being safe on the road, but more advanced travel tips about how to get good deals and the nuances of airports (which I have visited 30+ times for the last few years!).
Go out and explore the world with your newly armed knowledge and see how easy it can be
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.