Planning summer: making the most of your travels

We all love a good holiday, be it for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Since we all know we can’t have that six month vacation that we need twice a year, we take what we can get, right? A holiday abroad might seem more like a luxury for most people, as the cost of going away for even a couple of days is sometimes ridiculously expensive, but believe it or not, it can be a lot cheaper to travel outside of the country rather than staying in the UK.

With apps and websites available such as Skyscanner, Orbit and Skiplagged.com helping you to find cheap flights throughout the year, it helps to use these when in search for a holiday destination. When you book a holiday through travel agencies, sometimes, you can get a good deal, but often you can’t. Personally, I prefer booking my own travels as I get to choose the dates and it also lets me watch the fares on particular dates, meaning I am usually able to snag great deals.

It also really depends on whether you’re travelling alone or with a companion. When travelling alone, I find it a lot cheaper to book hostels on websites such as HostelBookers.com instead of hotels. This also provides you with an option to stay in a single sex dorm if you’re concerned about safety, or in a mixed dorm if you prefer. By staying in a hostel, it means you’re more likely also to meet new people from different walks of life. I must say that my best trips have been when travelling alone, but then again, I almost always travel alone. When travelling with a companion or perhaps a few friends, you could possibly consider getting a hotel or you could book an apartment. Websites such as AirBnB are great for finding flats that are available to stay in for a couple of nights.

Most towns have guest rooms, guest apartments and even bed and breakfasts. These are usually much cheaper and they have their own personal touch to it when it comes to hospitality. Often these places are run by private landlords or are part of a family run business. Because of this, they are much interested in the welfare of their customers and each place can offer a slightly different approach as well. Now, this could be a good thing or a bad thing, which is easily solved through looking on TripAdvisor. It is a reliable place to go to search for review articles, not only on hotels, hostels, or restaurants, but even for places to visit and things to do.

If you intend to drive, then it’s always good if you have your own car, otherwise renting would be a good option (though remember to check the change in UK law on hiring cars). There is also the problem of it being nearly impossible to rent a car if you’re below 25 years of age because most rental companies wouldn’t want to take the risk. If you’re an international student, you’d also need an international license, so it is evidently quite tricky if you were planning on doing this. Despite this, if you were able to drive, going around the UK would still be a wonderful break. There are many little towns that have a lot to offer for tourists, and if you’re into camping, there are gorgeous stops around the UK that you could spend your time in, even if just up to the Lake District!

Interrailing is one of the most interesting things you could do, given that you have the time. Even if you don’t, you can still get by with a 3-day ‘Benelux’ ticket. You need a bit of money, as a pass is quite expensive, but it’s so worthwhile if you know exactly where you’re going. Although it’s extremely exciting to hop from city to city, it can also be extremely boring if you’re travelling alone, but if you can find people (and often you do find people doing the same thing), then it can be great fun. Remember to watch out for yourself if travelling alone as the issue of security can be more problematic if you’re not careful, so keep an eye on your possessions and let someone know what your plans are.

So, that all sounds viable, but you might be thinking to yourself, “what do I do if I can’t plan ahead of time because I have a lot on my plate, but I still really would like a break?” Don’t fret! Believe it or not, most of the time, because planes aren’t full and they would like to get some money at least rather than having nothing at all, flight carriers reduce their fares ridiculously low. It’s a game of chance and luck as this isn’t always the case, so don’t only depend on this, but you could give it a shot. Rail tickets in the UK can be a lot cheaper if you were to book one far in advance, but one thing good about having a car is that you don’t need to think about ‘when’, except for ensuring you have petrol. So, if you were one of those last-minute travellers, then if you can it might be more convenient to drive rather than to book trains and flights. What if you really can’t do any of these things, though?

Well, Megabus can be another good option when travelling around Europe. Often you can get awesomely cheap fares even if you were to book late, and they do travel to several countries across Europe as well. If you were looking for last minute rooms then there are even websites as literal as LastMinuteRooms.com. Moreover, there is an interesting range of brand new websites such as Wowcher etc., which are convenient to help you snag a bargain.

On an entirely different note, if you were planning to work in the USA or volunteer in Asia, or maybe even work as an au pair in France or Canada, then, there are websites such as Real Gap, CampAmerica, SummerCamp USA and Work and Travel USA. It really depends on what you’re looking for, and the best thing about these websites are that you can earn the money you paid for your travel expenses and pocket a little, as well as the fact that most of their offers include lodging and food. The best part of this is that since you’re a student and therefore you’re guaranteed to not overstay, it’s much easier to obtain a Visa rather than to go after you’ve freshly graduated.

If you were to travel even further afield to Asia, for example, there are loads of exciting opportunities to experience the vast exotic culture, with so many ethnic groups and languages. A sure fire way in experiencing the amazing things that Asia has to offer is to stay in a homestay. With so many registered homestays, in Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and various other countries, you get to live with the locals and experience the countries in a truly authentic way.

So, there you have it: whichever way you’d like to travel, whether you’re tight on a budget or not, or if you’re travelling solo or travelling in a group, there’s something for everyone. With the plentiful choices available, there is always space for nitpicking, and hopefully planning your next holiday will be the easiest ever! Wishing you all safe travels whatever you do, and most importantly remember to enjoy the summer whilst it lasts.

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