I was born at a time when flying was more of a luxury than a convenience. During my lifetime I have seen the meteoric rise in the abundance of cheap flights and holidays, along with the debut of the internet. In 1987, the year I was born, the internet wasn’t available in every household, smartphones didn’t exist, and if you wanted to book a flight, you spoke to a travel agent in person or on a landline.
Nowadays, people are connected 24/7 through multiple devices, and there is an endless supply of websites that offer advice on how to book cheap flights. In fact, a quick search on Google gives 14.2 million hits on the term “how to book cheap flights.” Aside from my somewhat irrational fear of flying, as someone who loves to see as much of the world as possible, I was probably born at quite an appropriate time. The world truly is smaller and more financially accessible than it’s ever been before.
My Low-Cost Travels
As someone who spent several years on the road, hitchhiking and free camping, my travels have always been rather price sensitive. Over the years I have learned to travel with very small amounts of money, surviving on a couple of euros a day for great lengths of time. A large part of the reason that I stick to such a small budget is that it has enabled me to travel for many months at a time, doing little bits of work here and there when I need more money.
It’s not a better or worse choice than someone who works most of the year to save for a few weeks of luxury, but the chance to explore for many months at a time without knowing what I’ll encounter suits me. This sense of freedom, ironically stemming from an ultra-tight budget, now dictates how I plan my travels in Europe. After experiencing this, I don’t think I could travel any other way.
How I Got Started
In 2012, I started hitchhiking through Europe. I planned my travels simply by pointing my finger at the next point along the map, or going along with whomever I met along my way. When I finished hitchhiking, I wanted to visit more places, and sometimes I wanted to get there more quickly. Still, as price sensitive as ever, I took advantage of the budget airlines and booked cheap flights to places I had never been, making few plans until I arrived.
One of these budget-friendly journeys took me to Athens, where I arrived with a small backpack and ended up hitchhiking to the port, where I took a ferry to an island that had an interesting name. Once on the island, I walked for several hours until I found an abandoned villa. I stayed there for 10 days, buying cheap wine and local food that I indulged in on the unfinished balcony. Other such journeys, inspired purely by cheap flights, have taken me to various parts of Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Turkey, and Spain.
Why Don’t You Try It?
If you’ve never travelled or booked a flight in this way, I would highly recommend it. Find cheap tickets to a place that sounds mildly interesting, then book the tickets and go. You’ll figure out everything else along the way. With an open mind and a sense of adventure, you’ll find yourself doing things that aren’t in any guidebooks, and you might just like it.
I’ve become addicted to this way of travelling and feel my life has been enriched for the experiences. Every day I find myself excited to do more, and I hope that feeling never ends.
Go book a flight and get on your way to somewhere new. Who knows what you might find?