Trip planning - first step: 4 things you need to know

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Car on a Map Car on a Map by Little Peppercorn, via Flickr, Creative Commons Licence

The most important (and arguably the most expensive) part in your backpacking experience is transportation. Big chunk of your budget can be devoured by it if you rush into the “vehicle” of your not-thought-through choice.

Let's see how you can plan your transportation according to your budget, and probably save a few bucks.

For this example we are going to use GoEuro service, since it contains most of the transportation options in its calculation algorithm and it displays the results in a simple way.

We will assume that we are now one person, staying in Manchester (UK) for the next 30 days and have a plan on visiting Stonehenge during that period. Basically a local trip but it can easily be extrapolated to greater distances, multiple persons or circumstances.

Let's enter the starting and ending point and an approx. date of departure. These are the results:

GoEuro Screenshot
Now, for this guides sake, let’s shift the departure date 2 days ahead. We get this:

GoEuro Screenshot

Few things are visible from these two screenshots:

1. There can be differences between two dates, regarding the ticket prices
2. There can be a HUGE difference depending on the day of the week
3. Airplane does not always have to be the most expensive


Now, the rules of transportation planning:

- Always try to travel avoiding the weekends. Both railways and airlines know that people travel over the weekend because they work over the week. You are backpacking, so this does not apply to you. Pick a Wednesday or Thursday. It will be cheaper and less crowded. Also, check out our guide for scoring a cheap flight.

- Decide what you are willing to give up. For instance, you can choose to go by bus because it is the cheapest option, but it takes longer to get to you destination. Also, it may arrive during the night so you have to find accommodation until the next day. You can pick a flight but you will miss the views through the bus window or backpackers train travel perks. Think about it.

- Think about the departure and arrival times, not just dates. That way you won't have to sleep over or have hours of gaps. Also, if you're planning a long travel, try to calculate to travel by night. That way, your transport is at the same time your accommodation.

- Use travel related search engines – you may have never heard of the airline operating between your departure and destination points, but it can surely have the most budget-friendly prices. These web sites aggregate a lot of information for your convenience. Take advantage of it.


All of the above, as mentioned, can be used to longer trips. True, if you travel from UK to Thailand your only reasonable option will be via air, but you still can be sure that the tickets mid-week will be cheaper than weekend ones.

Do you have any other suggestions regarding transportation planning, from the backpackers POV?


>> The best time to book a plane ticket is....

>> How to save money? - Part 1

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 21:38


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