Traveling is great – especially when your university decides to give you two free weeks in the middle of the semester (also known as the“idw”). But it can get expensive very quick and students are normally not loaded with money. In this blog post I will share with you my five favorite apps for traveling on a budget. I’m sure these tips will save you some bucks!
1. Stay at people’s homes
The app Couchsurfing has gained more and more popularity the last years. No wonder, their concept is exceptional in my opinion! Of course, hostels are a relatively cheap option for having a place to sleep at but in big cities you can easily spend 30€+ a night for a dorm with many other travelers.
When I traveled for a longer time frame, I decided to try Couchsurfing. It is available for free for IOS and Android. You set up your own profile with some pictures of you, a description about you and your preferences, as well as why you have Couchsurfing, what you can offer and what you are looking for.
In your case, you’ll be looking for hosts, meaning for a person who offers you a place to sleep. You can filter for a city, for the date, how many nights you want to spend there and how many people you are. Then the app suggests you hosts in your desired area. When clicking on their profile you have access to their preferences and also to their references which I found very important.
I stayed with three different hosts for a couple days each and all my experiences were very good. What mattered to me more than the money-saving aspect was the time with the locals. We had so much fun together and they taught about their hometowns. You get the chance to get to know so many incredibly nice people that you would most likely never get to meet otherwise. And you can learn a lot from each other too, they have so many interesting stories to share. Still, I am not sure if I would stay at a man’s home alone as a girl. That’s something everyone must consider for themselves.
2. Stay tuned for the cheapest flights
Do you long to visit a particular destination but the flights are usually too expensive and it’s too far away to use a different transportation? Kayak helps you to set a flight alert and to find the cheapest flights. It also lets you book within the app and add personal notes. If you set up your home airport you can check a world map which shows you cheap flight prices to anywhere. You can also set what time frame the alert to a certain destination should notify you, as well as what days (for example only Friday-Sunday) you look for. There is also the option to find the best deals for hotels, cars and flight and hotel in combination. On your watchlist you can save flights and compare them after. Other similar apps are Skyscanner, Swoodoo and more but I have found Kayak to be the best for my matters.
3. Don’t worry about transportation anymore
Another option for getting around while traveling is Interrail. You can get the Eurorail/Interrail app for free but then buy a pass that you want to travel with. You have the choice between a global pass, which includes up to 31 countries, a one country pass or a premium pass. The premium pass is only for Italy and Spain.
While the passes might not be the cheapest option of traveling, you always have to consider that the passes include many services and save you a lot of stress. You never have to worry about getting a train or bus ticket and about comparing prices. The only thing you should do in advance is decide where you want to go to: Is a one-country-pass enough or would you like to see more countries? What amount of time do you have? How long would you want to spend in one place?
The most popular pass is the global pass. It includes seven days of traveling for one month – meaning you could travel for seven to 31 days, it’s up to you. This map from the Interrail website illustrates possible stops on your trip.
4. Have an overview of your expenses
Nowadays there are tons of applications that help you with keeping spending in check. The app that I found the most helpful is Tripcoin. Firstly, you set up your current trip, for example “Scotland 2019”. Accordingly, you set up the currency of the country you are traveling in. Then you can easily add your expenses and categorize them. Hence, you see how much money you have spent on food, accommodation, transportation and so on. There is the option to label it with the city you are in or the method of payment. Also, you can attach a photo of the receipt or a comment. Another app with a similar concept is called TrabeePocket.
5. Find the best gas station
In case you plan to do a road trip by car, an expensive aspect certainly is the money you spend on gas. With apps like GasBuddy or Mapquest you can search for gas stations around you or at locations that you pass on your route. But not only that: Your new assistants also compare the current prices of the gas stations. These apps are especially useful when going on longer travels and the few cents that you save at each fueling add up. The concept lives of its consumers and them filling in prices, so the more people use it, the more you get out of it.