Some time ago I received a comment on instagram asking for advice on how to plan a trip. Living in the Caribbean it almost seems impossible to reach the far corners of the earth. Although Grenada has an international airport it is a far cry from a hub like Gatwick or Heathrow. That also means that flights out are quite expensive. Here follows my offering on how to plan that trip you always wanted to take...on the cheapish!
Please excuse the endless slew of cheesy travel quotes I clearly stole from Pinterest...but they make sense!
Believe you can do it!
I remember saying to myself that I would never be able to make it to my dream destinations because I could not even afford the shitty economy class ticket on British Airways to get to London. That was the wrong approach! As soon as I read Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist my whole mindset changed, I was a woman on a mission and that mission was travel!
If you know you want to take a trip make sure and give yourself enough time to research your potential destinations and price your expenses. You want to get a good idea of where you will be staying, what you want to do and how long you want to do it for and how much you will spend on day to day expenses.
A lot of people have this idea that they need to travel at a certain time, usually at the peak touristy seasons (which are usually the peak pricey season). If you are working you usually have the option of choosing your holiday time. From my experience, prices on flights and accommodation drop right after the peak touristy seasons. Unless you have school holidays to factor in I say travel at random times of the year (i.e not Christmas or Summer Vacation time).
With amazing resources like Kayak and Momondo (which also have mobile apps) all the hard work is done for you. All you have to do is key in your starting point and your destination and the dates and voila, a list of the cheapest and fastest flights pop up. To be even more anal you can go onto the airline's website and double check it!
It may mean that you can only pack one bag and that you will have to bring your own meal...but let us face it...airplane food is not worth the money anyhow! I have traveled with easyjet and it was a brilliant experience, the crew on the way to Marrakesh were hilarious and filled with personality.
If you take a budget airline you are usually allowed one carry on bag which has to meet the airline specifications. It is small, but absolutely doable. If you are an over packer this is an opportunity to seriously minimize and take a critical look at how much things you actually need to take with you. Pack pieces that can be paired together easily and can be reused for several outfits. Personally I have found that one pair of converse and sandals do the trick in the shoe department (and only the sandals go in the suitcase because you will wear the converse to travel). When it comes to underwear, wash them in the shower and hang them to dry, this way you don't have to pack a month supply! Get your toiletries in the travel size, or fill them into travel size containers, better yet...buy them at your destination!
Accommodation: Three requirements (in my book) Clean, safe and central...oh and cheap!
For accommodation you have to know yourself, and then maybe adjust your taste a bit if your pocket does not match your taste. That being said, expensive is not always good and cheap is not always bad. Reviews really count when it comes to deciding where you rest your head at night. My suggestion is to start with Lonely Planet, they usually have an index of accommodation categorized by class and price. Lonely Planet, is a well known and long standing travel resource, they send people out into the field and sometimes they give a place their stamp of approval (that stamp means something to me). Next head over to Tripadvisor, and look at the reviews for the places you are considering. Take the bad reviews seriously and keep away from those places! Next, Booking.com, there you can book accommodation without necessarily paying in advance. The site requires your credit card information to hold the place and gives you some time to change your mind if you want to cancel the place without incurring any cost. Another resource I have heard good things about but have not had to opportunity to try is Air BnB. With Air BnB you can rent a person's home or at least a room in it. I am definitely gonna give it a try one of these trips.
When I was in Barcelona I stayed at a Hostel, it was a wonderful way to meet people as a solo traveler. Hostels usually plan events and offer walking tours for cheap or free. If you are on a budget,open minded and don't mind sharing a room with strangers I think hostels are a great option.
What is the most expensive part of my trip?
Once you have a figure to work with you are able to work out a saving plan. An example of a savings plan is to divide the cost of that item by the amount of months you have until that item needs to be purchased, then you know how much you have to save per month. Once you have saved up enough for the largest expense you can bit by bit save towards the smaller expenses. A great way to ensure that you commit is by actually purchasing the most important/expensive thing, then you have to commit to the rest...otherwise you would have just wasted a lot of money.
MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Embrace your inner cheapskate
Travel is expensive, and for many of us it means some sacrifices will have to made in order to afford it. It comes down to a simple question: What do I value more? An overnight trip to the Sahara desert riding camels and watching the night sky or partying every Friday night and spending a ton on drinks? I am the type of person that says...but this could be an budget airline ticket to Amsterdam...or that is 4 nights in a hostel!
I hope my offering helps you plan an epic adventure!