I’ve written quite a bit regarding the trip I’m currently enjoying, in Budapest, Hungary. I’ve written about it from a relationship maintenance standpoint, getting #BuffForBudapest, to the trouble we’re causing here.
What I haven’t talked a lot about is how I got here from a financial standpoint.
A lot of men in general are scared to travel. For one reason or another, they just don’t. So many men I know, many of whom have years on me, haven’t left the country outside of going to Mexico.
For some, it’s a money issue; they think that the rights to travel are only possessed by those with enough zeros in their bank account.
The world is a vast place, and everybody should experience as much of it as they can. I’m here to tell you that it’s really not as expensive as it probably seems.
For starters, my entire bill for round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Hungary, as well as my entire lodging for ten days, came out to a grand total of $1,100. You’d only have to put away $100 a month for a year to have enough to cover that. On top of that, mine was only booked about seven weeks in advance, which resulted in a higher cost for my flights.
Let’s take a look at how that breaks down.
Round trip flight from LAX -> BUD came out to $915. I’m flying on Norwegian Air, which is definitely a budget carrier.
This means that while the fare will seem very low on paper, they’ll nickel and dime you on the silly stuff. This includes fees for checking any and all bags, seat selection, meals and snacks, etc. If you are aware of this and prepared, you can factor it into your cost. Just know what you’re getting into.
It’s a bummer to think you’re scoring the airfare deal of the century, only to have it increased by 30% so you don’t have to board the plane naked.
My apartment in the center of the party district of Budapest was a grand total of $550 for ten nights. Split between three of us, that ended up being less than $200 out of pocket for me as an individual. Add in miscellaneous taxes and fees on both airline and AirBNB reservation systems and all in all I was out about $1,100 for all flights and lodging.
And again, that’s for ten days. My $200 apartment fee is a night in a nice hotel in many places of the world. The trick to traveling cheap is to actually be cheap and search for the best deals. Here are the best tips I can offer.
Tips For Cheap Travel
This seems like a bit of a no-brainer, I realize. But, I bet our flights would have been a little more expensive had we booked it two months earlier than when we did. The airfare rates are a wildly fluctuating market with the vitality of stocks.
One day they’re up – the next they’re down.
From my experience, you’ll always get the best rate if you book far ahead in advance, and by far I mean at least six months. But if you’re not going to book that far ahead, you’re almost a little better off waiting until it gets closer to nab the best deals. It is a gamble that the fare prices will go up and simply not come down again – so booking early is always the best bet.
Find a Cheap Place
Hungary is very affordable in general, and Budapest especially, given that it’s a pretty large and “major” European city. The further east you go in Europe, the cheaper it will be. Last year in London, I paid $70/night just to rent a room out in a lesbian couple’s town home. If I were to stay by myself in the Budapest apartment I’d only be looking at $55/night; and I’d be getting a hell of a lot more value in Budapest.
If I’d been doing this trip solo and rented an apartment to myself, I would have gone with a one bedroom instead of a two bedroom – and probably only paid about $30-35/night.
I can tell you without doubt that the two cheapest countries were the furthest east: Poland and the Czech Republic. In Prague, I paid $33 a night for a three bedroom apartment on the top floor, right off of the main city square. If you’ve never been to a “cheap” country, it will simply blow your mind when you realize how far the U.S. dollar will go.
Those of us “fortunate” enough to live in the U.S. and make a U.S. salary are spoiled by the fact that our currency goes so far in other parts of the world. Simply put, if you’re an American and want to spend your money going to expensive places that are trying to be like America, by all means – knock yourself out. Westernized countries are plentiful. But if your goal is to immerse yourself in some other cultures and get more bang for your buck, look beyond the typical vacation destinations.
Just a few countries on my bucket list for the upcoming couple of years:
Warsaw & Krakow, Poland
Brno, Czech Republic
Buenoes Aires, Argentina
Brazil (not too picky about the city)
If you looked up the majority of those cities, you’d see that the majority of them are below-average as far as costs of living are concerned. I simply have no desire to waste my hard-earned money in places where the value of the dollar isn’t high.
Right now, just about anywhere in Europe is becoming more affordable – so now’s the time!
Go With Friends
Everything is more fun with people you know and love. Traveling can seem like an intimidating thing at first, and it definitely can be solo. While I loved parts of my solo trip last year, the best memories were made in Poland with Lucky and in New York City with Holly.
With friends, you’ll be more motivated to approach girls and make memories by doing stupid shit.
On top of that, sharing an apartment with them makes things absurdly cheap – as you can see from what I outlined above.
Don’t Fall Into Traps
Do your prior research to ensure you understand how the local economy works. If you know it should only cost 30 Euros to get from the airport to the city center, and a cabbie insists on charging you 50 Euros, kick him to the curb. Find another one, or better yet – take the public transit in if it’s available.
Hint: public transit is superior in most countries to America – especially if you live in California.
The same applies to just about any situation; whether it be buying drinks, souvenirs, or paying for meals. In other countries, it’s easy for people to swindle you and pass it off to a language barrier issue, so know going into every transaction what you can spend and don’t let yourself get taken for a ride.
For the most part, this section boils down to using common sense – and I firmly believe most people who read this website have that to begin with.
Use Proper Resources
Time to get down into the nitty gritty for when you’re making your rservations. First off, you should be as flexible as you can with all dates and times. Flying out on a Tuesday will be much cheaper than a Friday. A redeye flight may save you $300 over the early evening flight. Be flexible about which airline to fly and when you can travel and the cheap travel possibilities become endless.
Use the following sites liberally and with flexible dates to find the cheapest flights.
For lodging, I really don’t think you can beat AirBNB as far as value goes. If you’re planning on staying more than a week or so, you could try Craigslist – but realize that it’s not as popular in foreign countries as it is here in the States.
If you need help with anything in regards to these, leave a comment below and I’m happy to check it out.
Travel is not as expensive as many people make it out to be. You just have to travel smart.
Book ahead if at all possible, and if you can’t – sometimes waiting until the last minute is the better option (price wise, not stress wise).
Travel with friends – better memories and cheaper prices. But, solo trips are good for you too – you will grow immensely. But the goal of this post is cheap travel.
Don’t be a dumbass. Duh.
Use the resources above. Leave a comment below if you feel stuck.
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