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Recession-busting travel tips

Recession-Friendly Travel

The aftermath of the recession has led many people to query their lifestyle and determine where they can make cutbacks. For some, expensive holidays are the first thing to go. But as a budget traveller myself, perhaps I can shine some light on how to make moderate changes to your travel habits and help you to stretch your travel budget.


Hostels have come on a long way in the past few years. Staying in a dormitory is the cheapest option and perfect for groups of friends or solo travellers. However my boyfriend and I choose to stay in hostels with private rooms, which are ideal for families or couples who want more independence. A private room in a hostel will still work out cheaper than a hotel. Nearly all hostels provide, or at least rent, bed linen and towels so you don’t have to pack a bulky sleeping bag or pillow.

It’s not just the price of a room where travellers can make savings. Hostels offer plenty of freebies from breakfast to internet access and even city tours. As an occasional solo traveller myself, joining in with organised activities such as pub crawls, quizzes and movie nights have always been a great way for me to meet other guests and usually make for a fun and cheap night out.

Certain cities are notoriously more expensive than others. But New York hostels, for example, offer dormitories from £18 per person per night. Choose to stay in a private room in hostels in Singapore and travellers can make their travel money stretch much further.


Tourists are unfortunately easy targets for taxi drivers and dishonest fares, but if you’re really serious about becoming a budget traveller, you will more likely be checking out local bus or train times.

Velib bikes for Paris

You can’t beat going on foot when it comes to cutting costs but for a more novel way to travel in major cities, join one of the local cycle schemes. Barcelona, London and Paris are just a few of the destinations with special bike stations where you can pay for a bike on your debit or credit card and return it to a similar bike station at hundreds of locations across the city. The rule of thumb is that the first 30 minutes are free so as long as you return the bike within that time so if you pedal really fast journeying between sights won’t cost you a thing.

Eating and Drinking

Holidays are often times to treat yourself. But indulgence doesn’t just come in the form of starched white tablecloths and Michelin star restaurants. For atmosphere, authenticity and value for money, nothings beats eating in the local hotspot. In Italy I have had restaurant owners boast that the oil on the table was produced by a family member just a few miles away. In countries renowned for good wine, I put my trust in the house wine. Find out what the locals drink; it will usually be served in all the bars for a good price.

DIY Tours

Tour groups might tempt you with ‘off the beaten track’ sights (doubtful if every tourist passing joins the tour) but websites like mean you can take inspiration from locals living in the area and visit all their favourite local haunts and hangouts for an authentic experience.

In well visited destinations like the backpackers route in Australia for example, make friends in your hostel and the area will open up to you with their hot tips. For example, if you need a hostel Cairns offers travellers stylish accommodation with a great atmosphere. The hostels will often have communal areas where you can hang out and make friends.

Free Sightseeing

Do a bit of research before your trip and find out which galleries and museums offer free admission. Some offer cheap entry on certain days so you can plan your week away accordingly. Some cities hold, for one night over the summer months, an event called ‘white night’. St Petersburg, Rome, Toronto and Lima are just a few of the worldwide cities to hold this event which involves late night opening and free admission to many of the major cultural institutions. So keep your eyes peeled.

Cheap Destinations

Another way to guarantee a cheap holiday is to travel to where your currency holds the most value. Thailand and India might be long-haul destinations, but with the flight paid for, you can eat drink and sleep for very little. More and more carriers are offering cheap flights to Eastern Europe and travellers can really stretch their beer money in cities like Tallinn (which is also the European Capital of Culture 2011), Ljubljana and Budapest. Craving a steak usually means paying top dollar in a restaurant but in Buenos Aires, you can eat like a king (or queen) for under £15, which includes the cost of washing it all down with a good red.

Madeleine Wilson is a travel writer for HostelBookers, the budget accommodation specialist. She lives and works in London.

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