Travel Tips

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My roommates make fun of me and say that if there’s a deal, you can depend on me to find it. I think if I were to have my own show, it would be similar to Guy Fieri’s Triple D, except my “Triple D” would stand for DEALS, DEALS, DEALS! Here are a few travel tips I’ve come across on making this whole trip easier, and to save money. We can all use some travel tips, right?

1. A railcard

First and foremost James and I invested in a railcard since we knew we would be doing a lot of day trips via trains as they are faster than buses. Even though we weren’t positive it would pay out, all in all, with just ONE trip to London we made our money back in savings. There are a couple options here, most popular are the aged 16-25 railcard at £30 ea., but we opted for the Two Together Railcard at £30. The catch is we must always travel together to use this railcard (in a way it ensured our relationship doesn’t collapse and burn since we need each other to travel…just kidding). Anyway with our railcard we save 1/3 on prices of all train tickets that we purchase, I often use trainline.com since it has all the train services right on there, rather than each company’s individual site. *General Tip, on Sundays trains are often delayed because that’s when they are often serviced*

2. Offline Maps

Prior to our travels abroad I downloaded an offline map to use since I am certainly not paying for an International Plan. I personally use Maps.I, but a lot of people like Offline Google Maps.What I liked about my app was it gave walking directions to every point I wanted to go to, allowed me to pin spots that I wanted to see, and I could search on the map for public toilets, restaurants, sights, bus stops etc. all while offline. The only catch is you NEED to download the map of the area you’re going to while you still have wifi or data.

3. Phone plan

Speaking of international plans, I did not purchase one. I did try to get in contact with AT&T before I left and attempted to “unlock” my phone for the period of time I would be abroad so I could purchase a UK sim card but they denied my request since I was still under contract. I think Verizon phones might be able to switch sim cards quite easily, even if under contract. James and I ended up turning our roaming off, and our cellular data (all can be found in settings on an iPhone), put our phones on Airplane mode and only operate on wifi. Fortunately in the UK a lot of cities have wifi in the streets, but honestly, it wasn’t a huge issue for me. I’d rather take pictures and enjoy walking around places I’ve never been before rather than needing to be connected 24/7 to the internet. However, if you feel the need to be accessible at all times, you can always purchase a pre-paid phone and use that with a UK sim while abroad. I didn’t feel like paying for another phone.

4. Flights

When it comes to flights, I had two goals. Cheap and as many places as possible. First thing first, ALWAYS search for flights in private mode. The internet is a smart thing and likes to track what you search and then in turn raise prices on you for repeated searches. Beyond that, I found two resources that helped me a lot.  One is Skyscanner, something I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with. It basically scans all the flights available and can show you the cheapest ones departing from a certain city in a certain month, or allows you keep an eye on a flight and warns you if prices are going up or down. I, however, utilized this site a little and favored Google flights more. I found that if you entered a departing airport and left the destination airport empty, and click a particular day you are interested in, Google flights will show you all the places you can fly on that day from that airport and the prices of each flight. Using this method I was able to purchase various one-way trips, departing from London and doing a loop through Europe finally heading back to London. I managed to find 10 flights, for 8 countries, for $300. Many of them were, not surprisingly, via Ryanair. The Spirit of Europe (and actually a lot comfier than Spirit). Considering my flight from JFK to LGW cost $300 alone, I was quite pleased. This alone is probably one of my favorite travel tips, who doesn’t like to save money?

5. Accommodations

When traveling, there is this amazing resource I just found out about called Couchsurfing.com It is intended for travelers that want to see the world through the eyes of a local, make new friends around the world, and enjoy the company of locals while traveling. Essentially you sign up on the site, send a request and ask someone if you (and friends) can crash on their couch/guest room/floor for a night or two while in a city. The expectation is that you return the favor in the future to either that person or someone else who is looking for a couch to crash on..Plus it’s free so there’s that. You might be fortunate to have a host that is willing to take you all over the city you’re visiting in, or at the very least pick you up from an airport and make you a meal. I recommend reading the profiles and references really well of the people you are considering hosting/being hosted by to make sure it is a good match.

Air BNB is another great resource for affordable accomodations. Essentially people rent out their homes or apartments for way less than a hotel room. Interested in giving it a try? Use this link and save yourself a whopping $40 on your first trip!

If anyone has any other useful travel tips be sure to send it my way!

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