And a Few Tips
Our Favorite Travel Deal
Our best travel deal was going to Marrakesh in December 2019. What a great time we had with amazing memories that will last forever. Here is how it started.
We are full-time house sitters and had housesits lined up in Budleigh Salterton, England; Krakow, Poland; and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Then we were going to Paris, France and Barcelona, Spain, before flying back to the US.
We were still housesitting in Budleigh Salterton when I got an email from Ryan Air with their famous 25£ flights. We would be in Barcelona for almost two weeks; how could we not scoot over to Marrakesh for a few days?? So for a total of $138.53 US, we could get two round-trip tickets from Barcelona, Spain to Marrakesh, Morocco.
The next step, before I booked the flights, was to check hotels. The place to stay in Marrakesh is the old town (Medina), and there are many Riad’s (homes that have been turned into small boutique hotels) in that area. We found one that we liked and the cost for two nights the total was $99.80. This also included a wonderful breakfast on the rooftop terrace each morning.
The total for airfare and hotel for three days and two nights was $238.33. There was no way I was not going to do this, and my husband agreed!
My husband rarely likes to go back to places we have been, but Marrakesh was so amazing; he said he would go back again anytime we could.
So, sign up for newsletters from airlines, learn to shop around for hotel rooms, and you too could be going somewhere you thought you might not ever be able to go.
6 Budget Travel Tips
If traveling from the US, you will be happy to find that getting around Europe is budget friendly.
* Discount Card for Trains and Buses in the UK
In the UK, if you are traveling by bus or train, be sure to get the Senior Card or if one of the other discount cards offered fits you better. Be sure to apply for a card online. Using their app, you will have your card on your phone before you even leave home.
* Discount Airlines in Europe
Ryan Air has flights from $28 (no checked bag) regularly. It is a good idea to sign up for their emails and to check often if you are planning a trip in Europe. (Note if you are making a day trip or a 1 or 2-night trip, look for a safe place to store your checked bag! It may be cheaper than checking your bag and easier to get around.)
Other discount airlines that service Europe are Norwegian Air, EasyJet, and WizzAir (many say not to fly WizzAir, but it is up to you to decide what you are comfortable doing).
Norwegian with covid is not flying overseas, but they still have flights around Europe. We have flown Norwegian from California to Stockholm, Sweden; Barcelona to NYC, and other long flights. We found these flights to be outstanding and will fly them again. The prices at the time were unbeatable.
* Hotel or Airbnb
Airbnb can be a good deal, but don’t miss out on hotels and BnB’s. Last year, when we were in Paris, a hotel turned out to be our best deal. It not only was close to the places we had planned to go to, but it was a historic hotel with lots of character and was LESS expensive than an Airbnb. France, it turned out, was in the throes of a nationwide transportation strike; again, it was critical to be close to where we planned to go, so the hotel was a perfect choice (even price-wise).
* House swapping
House swapping has grown. I have not used one of the websites myself, but I have down house swaps twice. We found someone in England by asking people I knew in England, and they found someone for us. The family worked out perfectly. So house swapping may work for you.
* Food markets
Food markets are often great places to find your meals at a great price. Many stores, like Tesco and Co-op in the UK, have ready-made meals and sandwiches. An easy, less expensive meal compared to a restaurant.
* Pet sitting
Pet sitting in exchange for a place to stay. The website we use is TrustedHousesitters.com. We have been house sitting for five years and have traveled to 20 countries while house sitting in 10. If you love pets, this may be a great option for you. You will need to pay your airfare to get there, just like house swapping, but you have no hotel costs once you get there. But be sure you are okay with taking care of a pet or two. Check our section about how to get started in housesitting.
3 Pitfall Tips
* Price Great But Wait – Hotels
If the price seems too low, then there is probably a problem. If you find a four-star hotel for under $100, they will likely be in the middle of a major renovation project. This often means things are not open, like the pool or construction NOISE, even when they promise it won’t happen before 10 am. Twice we even had no water for hours at a time. Jeez, okay, so budget-friendly was our main concern, so you live with these little inconveniences. I just wanted you to be aware – price super low, ask why?
Now sometimes this works out, but often people are disappointed. Offseason is during a time when there is fewer guests/tourist but why. Often it is the weather, often the dead of winter. During the offseason, many things can be closed. Like many of the cute shops you had hoped to visit, museums will do renovations during the off-season and are closed… It is cold outside, so not the best time to do some of those outdoor activities. Sometimes off-season is the only time you can go, so go. You will get a better price than the rest of the year. But if there is something important you want to do, make sure it will be open.
*Airbnb (and Hotels)
When you are looking at Airbnbs, and you are looking further out of town to get a better price, be sure to check the cost of getting from the Airbnb to the center of town where most of the things you want to do are. If it costs you $10 (or much more like in London) per person, each way, each day – that can really add up. In that case, paying slightly more to stay within walking distance of the tourist attractions may make much more sense. Also, factor in time, if the Airbnb is out in the boonies, does it take an hour each way to get anywhere? Again this adds up and can take important time out of your day.
The only way we could make our first trip to Oslo, Norway, was because of the prices we found on Norwegian Air. Going to Marrakesh happened because of the great deal we found on Ryan Air. So there are bargains out there; with a little research, you will find that you can go places (local or far away) you never dreamed you could.
Do you have any tips to share? Please leave a comment!