While many people would want to travel around the world, for most it’s not an option, whether it’s because they don’t want to give up earnings from their day job, don’t want to risk their security by quitting and spending their savings, or because they have family and friends they want to be with at home. But being short on time or money doesn’t mean you can’t explore new places – it just means you need to do it differently. In this post, we’ll look at some ways you can travel the world, no matter whether you’re short on time or money.
Use weekends wisely
Everyone in the UK working five days per week are entitled to 28 days of paid holiday per year. If you’re looking to travel as much as possible, it’s important to make the most of these days. Not using your holiday is the equivalent of giving yourself a pay cut, as you’d be working on a day that you could have been exploring a far flung destination or enjoying some cocktails on a beach.
On top of this, weekends offer a way to extend your holiday without eating into your precious holiday allowance. Suddenly five days of paid holiday can become a nine day trip, or a 10 day holiday can become a 16 day one.
Travelling on a weekend can sometimes cost more than travelling mid-week, so you need to work out what’s more important to you – time or money. Work out how much you earn per day, and compare this to the price increase for travelling on a weekend. If this price increase is less than what you’d earn in a day, then it’s more cost effective to fly on the weekend, and save up your holiday for another adventure.
Similarly, if you’re planning to travel around Europe, for many people it’s very easy to do so without using any holiday allowance at all by going over the weekend, provided you work a standard 9-5 job. The added bonus is you’re no longer tied to specific dates, so you’ll be able to get the best deal on flights and accommodation for weekend flights.
If you live near a major airport, for many destinations it’s even possible to squeeze in an extra night by flying out after work on Friday evening. In many European cities like Berlin, Copenhagen, Prague or Barcelona, the nightlife only begins hotting up after 2am, so even if you arrive past midnight, chances are you’ll be able to hit the club before it peaks.
Book 53 days before departure
Booking flights can be stressful. If you like to plan ahead like me, it can be tempting to get your flights sorted well in advance to give you peace of mind that you’ll have a seat on the flight you want, but this isn’t the cheapest time.
Similarly, the closer you get to departure, the higher the price tends to be. I found this out first hand when trying to arrange a trip for six people – due the delay in everyone confirming their holiday at work, we booked four weeks before departure, paying £120 each for flights from London Stansted to Berlin. Rewind two weeks, the same tickets were just £80.
So where does the 53 days rule come from? Research by Momondo in 2014 revealed that booking this far in advance saved on average 29% on ticket prices. Flying out on a Tuesday is also the cheapest time to travel, while flights on Fridays are the most expensive, so a mid-week trip is ideal for anyone who works non-standard shifts.
Similarly, booking on a Tuesday night around midnight can net you a 6% discount, while booking on a Friday results in a price 3% higher than the average, though it can vary on the route.
Avoid the school holidays
If you can, it’s best to avoid the summer holidays, as flights can be around 62% more expensive than term-time, according to The Telegraph.
If you’re after the cheapest time to travel, then you’re likely to have luck in the five “dead zones” in air travel – these are periods of time when the least number of people travel, and are in:
- Most of January
- February, apart from around Valentine’s day
- Late August and September, when the kids are back at school
- Start of November
- Start of December
If you’re looking to fit in a couple of quick getaways, then these are the best times to get a cheap deal.
Double up your destinations
If you’re looking to experience as many different cultures as possible, then it’s a good idea to try and be efficient with your holiday allowance. Travelling is about discovering new experiences, so why go on a week long trip to one place, doing the same thing each day, when you could cut that trip in half and go to two different destinations?
For example, I’m planning a trip to Majorca this summer, but will be stopping by in Barcelona on the way back for three days. While I’ll get a chance to relax on a beach for half the trip, it’s also an opportunity to explore a city I’ve never been to before. Doing this also makes your holiday feel longer, another bonus!
If you have two weeks this is especially worthwhile when travelling further afield, since flights will cost more. For example, you could fly from London to New York, then to Boston, before heading back, effectively giving you two trips for the price of one! If you’re looking to experience diverse cultures closer to home, why not get an InterRail ticket and visit several European cities instead of one? Each new destination will feel like it’s own mini weekend break.
Even if you have limited time because a year long round the world trip isn’t right for you, there are still plenty of ways to maximise the amount of new cultures you can experience.
How do you fit in travel around your job? Let us know your top tips in the comments below!