The motivation that drives people from all over the world to come to Ireland is not only to study English. I really believe that when people decide to come to a European country to learn a language is also because they want to have the experience of their lives. In my opinion, this usually means having the opportunity to travel and visit as many amazing new places as possible. Additionally, many of our students come from countries very far away, like South Korea, Malaysia, Panama, Argentina or Brazil, so it is very common for them to want to take full advantage of their time in Europe.
But there is a problem: students usually don’t have a lot of money and to travel is an expensive activity. However, it would be pity to stop doing an activity that makes us so happy and allows us to know ourselves better through the challenges travelling brings. For that reason you need to have the best information to spend as little money as possible and travel as much as you can!
When and where to buy flight tickets
The first think you have to keep in mind is that if you want to make your budget stretch you can’t travel in high season. Don’t choose Spain in summer or Switzerland in winter because it is going to cost you a fortune. You need to travel in the low season and thus you will find cheaper prices for both flight tickets and accommodation bookings.
Moreover, my favourite way to find a good flight is through the flight search engine Skyscanner or directly from low cost companies’ websites like Ryanair or Aer Lingus. The price of flights varies considerably depending on the month, day and even time of the flight. Skyscanner, for example, allows you to compare flight prices for a whole month, so you can see on which days it is cheaper to fly. In addition, if you avoid travelling on weekends and you select trips with stops the price of the flight will be even better.
If you just want to travel and discover new places, no matter where exactly, Skyscanner has a very interesting tool for that. By selecting “Everywhere”, it will generate a list of the cheapest flights from your local airport in order of price.
Furthermore, don’t forget to search in your browser using the incognito window. This tool will prevent Internet history from being stored, so the website won’t remember cookies and information and the algorithm won’t increase the price of the flight if you decide to buy it later.
Accommodation: couch surfing, hostel or Airbnb
Finding accommodation is probably the most expensive part of travelling around the world so we need to check and book it with time enough to get the best prices. My favourite websites to find accommodation are booking.ie and hostelworld.com. When choosing the accommodation you should go for the hostels, which are cheaper than the hotels or the bed & breakfasts. Many of them have an excellent atmosphere; full of young people and travellers from foreign countries. When you find a hostel with a decent price, you should look at the overall reviewers rating and comments from the people that have been there to check that it’s worth it.
When travelling with a big group of friends, the best option is Airbnb. It is a social website that connects people who have properties to rent with people that need a place to stay for a holiday. There are thousands of options on it, including apartments, where a group of friends can stay for a decent price and often it’s cheaper than going to a hotel. The site is very useful and easy to use, and once you have booked, the owner will contact you directly to confirm your stay in their house.
If you don’t want to spend a penny, there is a nice option I have personally experienced that I totally recommend doing at least once in your life: Couch Surfing. It is a website where people offer you the possibility to stay in their place, completely free, in an empty room or simply on their couch. In this case what they are asking in exchange is not money but an intercultural experience. This unique opportunity will allow you not only save money but also live the authentic experience to stay with a local who will recommend you the better parts of the places you’re visiting and everything about the new culture you’re discovering.
Cheap food doesn’t mean unhealthy food
The third aspect to keep in mind is buying food. Of course, we need to eat during our holidays, but saving money doesn’t mean necessarily eating junk food. Not at all! Information is powerful, for that reason we need to search! Try to avoid touristy restaurants, which are usually more expensive, and ask the local people where to eat. They will know better than anyone where to eat good food for a good price. Another good option is to buy food in the supermarket, which is cheaper, and cook it in the shared kitchen of your hostel.