By Dinah E., Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid 19/20.
When I got accepted into ConversaSpain program, I had no qualms about how to budget things with the stipend that I would be receiving. I was confident of my frugal nature. And I also learned that food in Spain isn’t that expensive. That piece of information got me going! If I can save on food, then I have the opportunity to spend a little on my leisure trips. I haven’t gone that far yet, but here are my top tips to travel around Spain on a budget.
Living in a different country requires you to be cost-efficient. It is not really difficult to save up if you put your heart and mind into it. Staying focused on your goals is the key here, and I’m that kind of person. I want a healthy and stable life where I can buy the basic necessities without having to worry about the future. I am someone who can give you the top tips to travel around Spain on a budget.
1. Be on a Lookout for Deals
Similar to traveling to another country where we search for promotions, check the travel and tour agencies for trips to several tourist destinations in Spain at a discounted price. I have seen a few offers on the internet and even on the streets of the city center. You can also book the tickets in advance online. The Ave trains, for example, can be purchased 60 days in advance, giving you ample time to save up for your pocket money. A high-speed train is a little pricey though, but it gets you to the destination faster than the bus with the benefit of enjoying the scenery along the way.
However, it is best to take the bus if you are on a tight budget. It may take longer but well, it won’t hurt to sit on the bus for more than an hour or two. After all, it’s not every day that you go on a trip, and the buses here are quite comfortable. Also, purchase a round trip ticket and you will get a discount.
2. Don’t Join Group Tours
Sure, it will save you the time of figuring out where to go. You have the tourist guide, but remember you are paying the guide’s services as well. They have a list of restaurants and accommodations lined up for you but you can stretch your budget more if you do these things independently.
You can always buy a map when you reach the place or just ask around or do some research before traveling. Don’t worry about getting lost. Most likely, you will find tourists on the bus with you, so just follow them around inconspicuously. It’s more fun to be adventurous!
3. For Day Trips, Bring Your Own Water and Sandwiches
Tap water is safe to drink in Spain but, to save you the time of looking for water to drink, bring your own water. To save money from spending on your snacks or meals, bring sandwiches with you. You can eat these sandwiches while walking around the place. That will save you a lot of time from ordering food in a restaurant. Time is gold when you are on a day trip and there are many historical spots and breathtaking views to visit.
4. Go with Your Friends and Eat Pizza
It helps to go on a trip with your friends, especially if it’s not a day trip. Aside from having fun with the group, you will have the option of sharing the expenses with them in terms of accommodation and food. Pizza is usually a very good alternative to a complete meal and there are many variations that you can choose from. It is also shareable and budget-friendly.
5. Stay in a Hostel
It is a fact that hostels are the cheapest accommodation that you can find in Spain. If you are open to sharing a room with other people for a few nights, then this is for you. There are a number of hostels to choose from that can accommodate four to eight people per room for as low as €10 per night.
Hostels have complete amenities similar to a hotel. The only difference is it has a homey feel and shared with everyone. There are multiple toilets and bathrooms, a kitchen where you can cook your own food, dining and living rooms, and laundry area. You can also have wi-fi access.
If you are a light sleeper, then some hostels have soundproof rooms. Otherwise, bring earplugs or simply listen to music while trying to get some sleep. Bear in mind that you are staying with complete strangers, so always check the hostel reviews before booking, and be vigilant.
6. Check out Auxiliares Living in that Area
Interact with some Auxiliares in Facebook groups. Perhaps they are living in the area where you plan to go, or they can suggest a place for you to stay. You can agree on a decent rate or in exchange for something like taking care of their pet while they’re out. You just need a place to freshen up and rest. It won’t hurt to sleep on their couch for a few nights.
7. Exploring by Foot
One way to explore the town or city is by walking. Once, I was on my way to Sol from Moncloa and I wanted to discover the place. I wanted to find out whether the distance was walkable or not. It was! I enjoyed the walk because I discovered a few shops that I hadn’t been to, and I was able to have a good cardio exercise. So, get out there and walk! It will save you a few euros.
8. Watch Out for Free Museum Visits
Aside from the awesome views, Spain has many museums and historical buildings that are worth visiting, but not all are free. Before you head off, check on the sites for the free visits on specific days and which ones are always free. If you happen to go to a place where the visits are not free, then you’ll just have to be satisfied with taking pictures from the outside of the buildings and move on.
9. Off Peak Season Travel
Try to travel when it’s not peak season. When it is, prices for the tickets usually soar high. It will also be too crowded. You won’t be able to have that lazy kind of pleasure walk because people are either behind you or in front of you, and are just too close for comfort. You will end up stressed instead of enjoying the trip.
10. Avoid Buying too Many Souvenir Items
I know this is hard but you have to try not to spend much on these items. If you must, then buy those magnet souvenirs that you put on the fridge’s door. Make a collection of it by buying one per city/town that you visit. Trust me in saying that some of the souvenirs that we buy end up in a corner of the house with no use at all. BUT if you have extra cash, go on and buy! It’s your choice.
These are my top tips to travel around Spain on a budget. They have truly worked for me, and saved me a few euros that were very welcome later on! Be mindful when buying useless stuff, avoid following the masses and, above all, enjoy the trip! In the end, going back home with an outstanding memory is worthier than the most expensive souvenir!