Keeping costs down with alternative methods of travel

Travelling direct to somewhere will always be more convenient, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as a delay, or maybe even some sort of fault with the method of transportation.

Going directly from point A to point B isn’t usually just a time saver, but it also helps to make sure trips are as hassle-free as possible, keeping stress to a minimum.

But just because it’s the most practical and convenient way, does it necessarily mean it is the best? Well, for budget travellers, a lot of the time it isn’t.

Whilst direct journeys are as fantastic as they sound, allowing seamless travel from place to place, they often cost more money. That is, unless, you happen to live right next to an airport that is a major hub for a budget airliner. But not everyone is that fortunate.

There are, however, some ways that you can change up your usual routine when going away, rather than the usual getting a taxi from your front door to the airport and jetting straight to your destination.

The layover

  An SAS flight preparing for takeoff at Dublin Airport - where I'll be stopping off en route from Manchester to Copenhagen at the end of March.  Image credit:   Canadian Pacific /Flickr

An SAS flight preparing for takeoff at Dublin Airport - where I'll be stopping off en route from Manchester to Copenhagen at the end of March. Image credit: Canadian Pacific/Flickr

One way that you can avoid paying a higher fee is to break a flight up into two, or sometimes more, parts.

An example is when I booked flights to Copenhagen last week. The closest airport to where I live is Manchester Airport, and the cheapest direct flights to Copenhagen on the dates I selected (leaving at the end of March, returning at the beginning of April) were with easyJet, costing just over £80.

Scandinavian (SAS) Airlines also had flights between £85 and £100, but easyJet were slightly cheaper.

I, instead, opted to book return flights with Ryanair from Dublin to Copenhagen for £40, with return flights to the Irish capital from Manchester either side for £20. The total cost? £60. A saving of just over £20.

All it involves is an extra hour of travel, and roughly two hours layover in Ireland each way. The saving doesn’t appear to be all that great, but it works out to be the cost of a night in a hostel in Copenhagen.

Also, it’s worth checking out the main hubs that airlines have. Ryanair in Dublin and at London Stanstead, and easyJet in Luton operate to a large portion of their destination portfolios from these places. It may be easier to travel to one of these places, then fly to your intended destination from there.

Stay grounded

  A black and white motion shot of a Eurostar leaving London St Pancras International Station.

A black and white motion shot of a Eurostar leaving London St Pancras International Station.

Of course, you don’t have to fly at all. The rest of Europe is accessible by road and rail if you don’t mind travelling for more than a few hours.

Virtually everywhere in Great Britain is reachable by rail, but you’ll need to head down to London to reach the rest of Europe.

National Rail can help get you there, while Eurostar operate trains from the capital to mainland Europe. The Train Line Europe has rail information to help you traverse the continent. It is unlikely going by rail will save too much money, if anything at all, but it’s an alternative for non-confident flyers or those wishing to take a more scenic route.

Coaches, however, tend to be a much cheaper way to do things. Megabus operate services all over the UK and in some European countries, including France, Belgium, Germany and Italy. They are quite a bit cheaper than trains, and can be more convenient for reasons outlined in a blog I posted last month.

Hitchhiking

  A thumb. An essential part of any hitchhiker's travel kit.

A thumb. An essential part of any hitchhiker's travel kit.

I was reading an article in the November 2015 edition of Lonely Planet Magazine. It was a submission by an author named Simon Winchester, who reminisced on one of his favourite pastimes – hitchhiking.

“Growing up in the ‘60s, hitchhiking was normal, an acceptable way of getting around. I hitched in Canada and the US, Europe and Mexico, and loved the spontaneity.

“As people we’ve become more frightened of strangers. But I think it could become respectable again; it’s just a matter of perception.”

If you can get over the rational fear of getting into cars with strangers and completely ignore what you were warned about growing up, then hitchhiking can be a cost-effective way of getting around.

If you have a penchant for flagging down vehicles to take you closer to your ultimate destination, then chances are you’ll get a long way for mere peanuts.

If you’d rather arrange something more formerly, then BlaBlaCar provide a useless service. As the slogan on their website reads, they connect “people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats.” This will incur a small cost, but they operate in 19 countries, so getting around outside the UK is possible as well.

Getting to/from the airport

Most people who go to the airport will book a taxi in advance and probably pay quite a hefty sum of money to do so.

But most airports will be served by some form of public transport for a fraction of the cost at both ends.

When I go to Manchester Airport on several occasions next year, I’ll go from Salford Crescent to Manchester Airport by train, rather than fork out three or four times as much on a taxi.

When I arrived in Krakow in January, me and my girlfriend got the bus from the airport, which cost about 40p each. The return journey in a taxi cost us £20. If only we didn’t have an early flight on a Sunday morning…

If you are unsure about public transport connecting your destination airport with the place you’ll be staying, then pretty much every airport website will have information on how to get there. If you still can’t find anything, then the TripAdvisor forums are a great place to ask travel advice from those in the know and those who have been there and done it before.