Travels in 34 countries made Margarita wiser and more experienced. On her travels, a little explorer wakes up in her, who, like a child, is open and eager to study this world. Margarita, based on her rich travel experience, shared useful tips on budget travel, free flights, cheap accommodation booking and travel planning.
– Tell us about yourself.
– Hello! My name is Margarita. For almost 10 years I have been living in my beloved capital, and I was born in the small Siberian city of Bratsk. Moscow is a wonderful city to live in, and, perhaps, I would not want to live in another. For the last 5 years I have been working in a shoe company with my own production. I am engaged in finance and orders, 2-3 times a year I go on business trips to China. I always wanted a job related to travel, but I had no idea how to connect it with my profession. As a result, the wish came true in a completely unexpected way.
– How many countries have you visited? Where would you return again?
– Just the other day I returned from my 34 country – South Korea. This country is one of those to which I would not return. But with great pleasure I will fly to Iran, once again and not even alone. An amazing country that opened up new horizons for me, gave me wonderful meetings.
I am always happy to return to Italy and Spain. By the way, after 3-4 times in these countries, I realized that it is not quantity that is important at all, but quality.
You can consider a visited country after staying there for 2-3 days. And if the country is large, then you can go back and explore new regions, forgetting about counting countries, focusing on depth.
– How are you planning your trip?
– I am a human plan. I need to search through forums and Instagram in advance in order to dilute the standard routes with unusual locations.
I will split my travel plan into two types:
1) Vacation : usually 2 weeks, sometimes even longer. On such trips, I go “far away” – Bali, Sri Lanka, Philippines. In general, while it was only Asia. In one trip, I want to have time to get to know the country as much as possible.
Having decided on the direction, I select tickets, and start planning the trip:
- First of all, I just google: what are the beaches, where they go most often, are there mountains, surfing.
- The next step is to deal with the map, what and where. For this I use google maps.
- I am also studying how things are with transport in the country (In Sri Lanka it is convenient to travel by train, in the Philippines – ferries / airplanes, in Bali – by car around the island).
- I collect the description of all places in a Word file and start looking for tags on Instagram – real photos, some reviews.
- Next, I choose what is my priority and correlate what I have allocated for myself: location-transport-required number of days.
- I exclude, add, change something. You know, the process is very creative!
When more or less the composition of locations, excel is used. Apparently, my financial mindset is making itself felt. Even my friends, when they see these signs, are surprised. And it seems very effective to me!
I break everything down by day, starting from the time of departure. Names of beaches / cities / islands, arrows from where and where I plan to get, by what transport. Oh yes, approximate prices also count.
So, for example, with the Philippines, I ended up drawing a map with islands (approximate, of course) and arrows for all flight options. As a result, they came up with an alternative option that excluded one island.
In the future, such files are my lifesaver, with which I always understand what and how. With them in mind, a clear plan that takes into account all the points. Of course, sometimes you have to improvise on the spot. But I’m not trying to follow the plan 100%. I just know what I really want to visit and make time for it.
2) The second travel plan – weekend trips are short trips of 2-4 days, in 95% of cases to Europe.
Here, of course, there is no need for heavy Excel artillery. Therefore, the favorite application maps.me is used. Such trips most often fit 1-2 cities, sometimes they happen completely spontaneously (hello, cheap tickets!)
Whatever the city, it’s easy to find the top attractions and most often see them in one trip. It remains only to correctly distribute all the places and deal with the logistics. Well, after that – mix with popular blogging locations.
All of the above applies of course to planning a specific trip, but planning travel globally is a completely different story, which I tell about in my guide “How to plan travel correctly.”
– How do you manage to combine work and travel?
– The main assistant is the production calendar. For example, for 2019, it provides 118 weekends / holidays, plus standard holidays of 28 days. Just think about these numbers! With proper planning, you can easily travel somewhere 8-10 times a year. Moreover, if at work it is allowed to take vacation days between holidays, you can arrange for yourself 2-3 full vacations.
– How to travel on a budget?
– If you have such a goal, then it’s easy! Especially when there is no time binding.
- Buy cheap tickets from low-cost airlines
- Go to the airport by regular bus
- Catch a ride upon arrival
- Looking for couchsurfers for housing, or working for housing. You can even free it!)) But this is already a utopia. Although there are a lot of careless wanderers!
But seriously, in order to travel on a budget, you need to devote time to it. Constant monitoring of promotions, discounts, last minute offers.
In addition, in order not to travel expensively, it is important:
- get co-branded cards and earn miles
- join various alliances
- get visas on your own
- compare house prices across multiple sites
- refuse baggage while traveling
- cook your own food or look for places for the locals
- study information about the chosen direction on the topic of discounts
These are just a few of the things that make up a budget trip. The topic is quite global, and it is especially interesting to me. The main thing in saving is understanding your comfort zone. I can safely use public transport, but if the question arises of lugging a heavy backpack, suitcase, and also a laptop and at the same time making several transfers, I’d rather use a taxi and save my nerves.
One of the main items for saving is nutrition. For example, to Norway I took dry rations with me – various snacks for a snack, custard porridge for breakfast, and a doshirak as a last resort for dinner. The country is quite expensive and I managed to eat a full meal once a day. If you rent an apartment, then this is easier. You can cook at home. But, again, it is important for me personally to try the local cuisine, to appreciate it. Well, here’s how to come to Spain and not try tapas and paella? And in Italy to eat custard noodles instead of pasta?
So yes, the savings should be reasonable and not much to the detriment of relaxation. Although I know people who do not care about all of the above, and they are ready to eat a sandwich from a gas station, live in hostels, but just go somewhere.
– When is it profitable to travel?
- Always more profitable – out of season. But here you need to be careful. If the off-season in Thailand is unlikely to spoil your vacation, then, for example, in the Caribbean you can get into a hurricane, and in Dubai you can burn under the scorching +60.
- Another great option is in the off-season. During such periods, the flow of tourists decreases.
- And the question of direction – there are popular cities where there will always be a huge number of tourists, regardless of the season. I was in Venice in April – it’s even scary to imagine what is happening in the city in summer, in season, if you don’t get there in the spring.
– Your favorite airline?
– From this year – QATAR. This company was rightfully ranked first in the list of the best. Lovely, courteous flight attendants, comfortable chairs, delicious food, a large selection of alcohol (sorry, I can’t help but mention)). The long flight went quietly and comfortably. And also, you can get on a free tour if you change trains for more than 5 hours. I used to value Aeroflot very much, but, unfortunately, lately their service began to suffer (
– Free flight: myth or reality?
– Definitely a reality!
There are several ways to do this:
- Co-branded cards that most banks have.
- Mile card from Tinkoff All Airlines (https://www.tinkoff.ru/sl/4qre4ptUFd9 you can get additional bonuses on my link)
- Miles of airlines and alliances for which the flight will be at the price of a premium.
The most convenient thing for me personally is to accumulate universal miles from Tinks, they can compensate for the cost of absolutely any air ticket.
I also often fly with Aeroflot, so I try to choose additional bonuses for this particular airline (purchases in partner stores, flights by alliance carriers).
I will share one more way – tickets can be bought for THANKS bonuses from Sberbank. In practice, they accumulate for a long time and are not profitable, many do not even know about them, but if you check, then perhaps you have already saved up for a ticket or a good discount?) Then you should visit spasibosberbank.travel.
– What should a passenger know about a flight delay?
– The passenger must know a number of services to which he is entitled:
- provision of a mother and child room for a passenger with a child under 7
- two phone calls or two e-mails if waiting more than 2 hours
- soft drinks if you wait more than 2 hours
- hot meals if the flight is delayed for more than 4 hours, and then every 6 hours during the daytime and every 8 hours at night.
- hotel accommodation when waiting for departure more than 6 hours at night and 8 hours during the day
All of these services must be provided free of charge. But in practice, airlines squeeze their rendering to the last drop of passengers’ patience.
My flights were delayed from 2 to 5 hours, but getting even water was problematic. Recently, an acquaintance flew by Aeroflot to Bali, the flight was delayed for several hours, and they issued a food coupon for about 500 rubles, which is negligible for the prices at the airport. Moreover, even this amount had to be knocked out.
All that remains is to wish you scheduled departures!
– Where do you live when traveling? Where do you book accommodation for budget travel?
– I prefer to live in hotels, but if necessary, I can use a hostel. But only with a separate room and a shared shower room. Probably, I have already outgrown all the romance of such places.
Perhaps you can resort to a hostel with a shared room if you really need to find a company and do not want to be bored alone in the evenings when it comes to traveling without company.
This year I used couchsurfing for the first time. Not for the sake of economy, but for the sake of experiment. The experience was different. The most positive one is in Iran. We had great hosts, a girl in Isfahan and a guy in Shiraz (although my ardent couchsurfer friend met the latter at a hangout in Georgia). In addition, a host met us in Kashan, took us around the city all day and showed us interesting places, and we stayed at a hostel. In Iran, the main thing is not hotels, but people, that’s why there was such a choice.
After I tried to stop for rubber in Korea, I was met at the airport, allocated a room, I went to rest after an early arrival, while the host left for work. And when he returned, he said something unintelligible that he had to fly away and that was all. I had to urgently find a hotel and leave.
In general, I always decide where to stay, with the means available. If there is a certain budget for a trip, then I will fit into it at the expense of the usual comfort.
Find accommodation for travel
- But to find accommodation, I use not only the well-known and beloved booking.
- For Asia, agoda.com is much more applicable.
- Hotels.com and ostrovok.ru have client programs with which you can save yourself free accommodation.
- Also, I always use the hotellook and roomguru meta search engines to compare prices.
- Quite often we travel to Europe with a company, then it is most convenient to look for apartments on airbnb (follow the link https://www.airbnb.ru/c/margaritam245?currency=RUB and get a discount of 2100 rubles for the first booking).
- To search for hostels, you can use the sites: hostels.com / hostelsclub.com
- There are also ways to find exchange housing or work for the night (from babysitting the host country to landscaping and working on the farm).
Should you book travel accommodation in advance or on site?
For Europe, I advise you to look for housing in advance.
But in Asia, you can often rent a house for the first couple of days and continue your search upon arrival. This works well in India, Sri Lanka, Tae, for example. And with constant movement or vice versa for a long stay.
In practice, I can say that in the Philippines or Bali it will not be easier to look for something on the spot, but there is an opportunity to walk and see what the hotels are like and book if everything suits you. Since very often the declared picture does not correspond to reality. By the way, in Sri Lanka, it was for this reason that we had to check out from the hotel after one night, we walked around the neighborhood, found out, and received a discount from the owner, and thus the accommodation turned out to be cheaper than booking.
Travelhack for those who plan to move – give preference to night moving and slipping bass, and save on accommodation.
– Is insurance required when traveling?
– 100%! Insurance is not expensive, as are the consequences and costs that can happen to anyone.
Nobody ever plans to get sick, but it happens. I have annual insurance, it is permanent. I have been paying for it for several years now, hoping not to use it)) But, alas, last year I had to – I got very badly poisoned in Vietnam and had to ask for help.
– Share useful travel apps – how to travel on a budget.
- To search for flights – skyscanner
- In addition to the already listed sites (they are applications) on housing, my favorites are:
- Maps.me – the best offline maps.
- App in the air – an application that, after entering the boarding one, shows the time of check-in, boarding, exits, etc.
- XE currency is a convenient offline currency converter.
- Been – I mark visited countries.
- Klook – this application can be used to find discounts on entertainment and events in different countries.
- Rome2rio is a super cool assistant how to get from point A to point B.
– What did travel teach you?)
– Probably one of the most advanced skills was tolerance. To people, events, surroundings.
Previously, I was a rather quick-tempered person who absolutely did not tolerate something “not in my opinion,” and not familiar to my way of life. But over time, with immersion in a different culture, you realize how different people live on this planet. But at the same time, we are all united by something. If you do not change yourself, the world around you will not change. And the world – it changes you.
Each trip makes me a little wiser, more experienced.
My beloved Iran, for example, showed how kind, helpful and hospitable people can be. Acquaintance with this country really turned my mind upside down. After that, you want to give even more. Create and be kinder. I think this is important.
And with every journey I become more fearless, I learn to say “YES” where I would have doubted before.
When traveling, a little explorer wakes up in me, who, like a child, is open and eager to study this world. This is an indescribable feeling that I want to feel on every trip.
Telegram channel https://t.me/margotravel
My referral links to get bonuses:
2 100 rubles discount on the first trip when registering by the link:
Book your accommodation on Booking using the link below – get a discount of 1000 rubles. (in the form of cashback on the card after accommodation)
Install the application from the link http://a.12trip.me/?223691b05ad44bcd – get 50 tripcoins to your account
Use # promocode MARGARITA7342 – get a discount of up to 500 rubles. from order
Also, if you decide to get a mile or any other card at Tinkoff – keep my link: https://www.tinkoff.ru/sl/4qre4ptUFd9
Interviewed by Olga Avrakh
Photo of Margarita