Welcome to the first article in my new series, ''on a budget'' where I will assist you in your search for travel on a tight budget. Moreover, I will show you how to travel more eco-friendly.
After Covid, there is a greater entitlement to a good holiday, but now in the new economic realities, we may have to look harder for bargains. Rarely does what we want to pay, match the high street prices.
Despite this, the travel industry is currently handling an overwhelming number of bookings.
Read this article if you want to travel independently from big providers and if you are interested in your future holiday options. This article will provide some solutions.
Background to shoestring budget holidays
How can we plan this year amid galloping prices and rising inflation? There is no easy answer as it may feel that we have lost all the control.
'We all need holidays' that's what we are sure of across all age groups, circumstances, preferences, and affordability. And we all want to go on a break without costing the earth.
Background to saving the environment
We have observed the rapid development of comparison sites on every subject, including holidays. What is noticeable as they evolve is that the search criteria change. Though price matters most, a resort, holiday, activity or hotel are now more popular if they are environmentally friendly and give such opportunity to visitors. They usually book up quickly based on recommendations and several likes and stars.
The hectic traveller who decides on his holiday destination solely based on affordability becomes a thing of the past, and it’s no longer about ticking off the locations on the map. The conscious traveller has emerged now for some time, due to a concerted effort of us all!
What has changed in the travel industry?
Our choices, recommendations, reviews, and requests are paying back. The travel industry has been changing due to dedicated websites (“The Fair Traveller”, Expedia, and Skyscanner are only some of those) that offer an opportunity to contribute with travel experiences, comments, and reviews of hotel restaurants, and places of interest.
In turn, it allows the owners and managers of those establishments to adjust the way they run them to minimise the impact on the environment. It would include vegetarian food menus, support to local producers, less waste in food preparation, meals/food delivered locally and providing this option to the holidaymakers, recycling, opting for minimum or reusable packaging suppliers, greener travel to the point of destination and while on holidays, solar energy heated swimming pools, amenities etc.
The way forward
And while new trends are constantly emerging, compelling us to re-assess the necessities of travel altogether, with COP 26 and the resurfacing of environmental issues, we may be put off from getting on a plane completely.
So does this mean an electric car for everyone? Not at least for a few years. Unlike the e-bike, which is more affordable. Its popularity influenced a slow travel movement, a trend around now. It prompts us to switch to cycling, re-discover our environment and its proximities, and enjoy while getting the same or even more for our money.
We have seen cycling routes develop almost everywhere now, and, together with the catering industry, they make the local biking trips happen. So, is there anything else we need apart from the good weather?
What to look out for and where to go on a budget?
As good weather is essential but not always on tap in the UK, we may want to hedge our bets on the Mediterranean. At par goes, of course, the budget. Thus, I suggest carefully considering factors such as local and air taxes that add to the final holiday price we pay.
There are several countries with still low or no local taxes at all. Many are tourist and investment attractions, additionally saving us from payment of local taxation. Among those countries are Ireland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, Panama, UAE, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Hong Cong, Singapore, Florida, Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Malta.
Why do I have to pay local tax?
As some may argue, the local tax answers the overgrowing tourism. It indeed considers the costs of intrusion into locals and their land and compensates for costs of investments to relieve the burden. Such may be the environmental damage, pollution, overcrowding and hiked up prices in shops and restaurants.
Local tax is usually collected indirectly through holiday providers or on arrival at the hotel or destination. Its rate depends on when and where we travel, hence peak and off-peak charging.
Can I not pay this tax?
Separate to the above are travel or airport tax duties, often included in the price of a ticket. They cover the environmental costs and airport construction, maintenance and administration expense, government taxes and fuel flying expenses.
The airport rate depends on the class of travel and the destination. The UK levies the highest airport taxes globally, followed by Australia, Russia, Dominic Republic, Germany, and Norway, making those countries the most expensive holiday destinations.
And whilst airlines constantly call to review or scrap taxes, arguing that this would push for an economic boost, governments respond reluctantly.
In the UK, however, change is coming up. The current charge on flights to Europe and North Africa, at £13 (the lowest class), is going down to £6.50 from April 2023.
Where is the Best Value?
On the other spectrum are countries with very low or no airport(departure) taxes, which can reduce the ticket price and thus deliver excellent holiday value. It is no wonder that many Brits have already appreciated it while visiting places in Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Poland.
Still, prices are catching up...
And while you are there, enjoy good weather and views, lunch and beer in the restaurant penthouse, stroll guided through the ruins of the local castle or take a break in a coffee shop. You can meet the locals, listen to stories, watch open theatre performances, check the display of regional art, go on walking tours, and jump in the sea or pool when it gets too hot. So much fun and such a saving compared to what we would pay for visiting the Americas or Mediterranean.
Check below some of the destinations
While well-unadvertised as holidays, these places fully deserve our attention.
Suggested eco-friendly destinations
The package holidays to Mediterranean remain still most popular with sedentary relaxation by the sunny pool or sea site favoured by about 67 million Brits visiting Turkey, Portugal and Spain alone.
The above figures are still unlikely to change. Along the typical holiday, there is a steady increase in bookings of an organised walk, hike, climb, tour, or a race across vast areas of exceptional beauty and challenging environments.
We appreciate nature
Though this activity has been around for a long time, it is now emerging in a new dimension.
Not only does it attract with the perks of physical activities and unforgettable experiences. Those trips often represent cultural and historical heritage from many centuries ago, which can be a great learning curve.
One of such trips is the famous CAMINO DE SANTIAGO ROUTES (SPAIN) starting from different locations and divided into stages that each pilgrim can join as per their liking.
Other less known routes are TRACKS IN BIALOSTOCKI REGION (POLAND), TELL TRAIL (from Altdorf to the Brienzer Rothorn) or e-bike trips IN HEIDILAND (SWITZERLAND). Hikes in Finland or Mountain Biking Routes in the UK
How can I save?
On the routes like this, we are less dependent on transport and thus pollute the air. We are also more in control of our budget, no matter how modest. With a meal price averaging from (equivalent to) £4 to £15, accommodation starting from as cheap as £25(per night) in the off the beaten track areas and a local bus ride price still under £1.00 in some areas, we can get genuinely regal on our hols.
This type of holiday adventure is undoubtedly always the most ethical and economical way to travel despite a limited number of organisers, as it still gives us the most scope.
Regardless of the holiday you choose, find facts and information about the place you will visit and plan your route well ahead. Even the most popular destinations offer free activities, and it’s always worth checking those first. Blog like ‘Third eye traveller’ and a search engine can help.
Also, check the government’s website for requirements and updates regularly, as Covid may still significantly affect your trip. Additionally, depending on your destination, all aged 12 and over may have to provide proof of vaccination status on the border.
"Travel on a budget" - Your Tax Assistant
Are you aware of the damage you can cause when going on holidays?