Only those who have never tried travel do not like traveling … Alina, the owner of the Aviamania website about independent travel, believes that you should not put a tick in front of countries, you just need to enjoy traveling to places that are interesting. Alina shared her rich experience on how to plan a trip on your own, how to find profitable flights, booking accommodation and many other useful and exclusive life hacks.
– Tell us about yourself.
– My name is Alina, I live in St. Petersburg and love to travel. So a few years ago I got the idea to create a travel website and tell people how to travel on their own. For a long time, I described our routes in detail, published prices, tips and photos, and many used my articles as travel guides, abandoning guides and saving money. In mid-2016, the eponymous YouTube channel was born. Now the Aviamania project is not only a website and a YouTube channel, but also linked accounts in social networks and friends around the world) I do not count the countries I have visited, and in many of them I have been 3-5 times. The fact is that, in my opinion, you shouldn’t put a tick in front of countries, you just need to enjoy traveling to places that are interesting.
– Why travel alone and not a travel agency?
– I started my travel experience with the purchase of a two-week package tour to Greece from a tour operator. It was on this trip that I realized how one-sided and narrowly you can see the country, if you do not expand the boundaries of the package tour. On the very first trip, we abandoned the group excursions offered by the travel agency in favor of buying excursions from local agencies. In addition, we mastered public transport, studied non-tourist routes, ate national dishes in colorful cafes and got to know the locals. If we were traveling as part of our tour package, the rest would be limited to full board in the hotel and two or three excursions with a group of tourists.
– Is traveling alone more profitable than going through a travel agency?
– Much depends on its correct planning.
You can make an exclusive route through expensive resorts by examining them from the inside, or you can go on a budget trip to the same places. On my channel and website, I teach people useful travel hacks and talk about everything that can be useful on a trip. I love sharing prices, addresses, and tricks to help me save money on my travels. With the right planning, an independent trip can be cheaper than a tour, and the experience is simply not comparable. But, there are certainly directions in which it is easier and cheaper to buy a tour. Most often these are popular resorts where charter flights are organized during the season. Nevertheless, in such cases, I prefer to buy a charter ticket, but still plan the vacation on its own. For those who are afraid to start, I provide a travel planner service.
– How to plan a trip yourself?
– I always start the planning process with the purchase of air tickets and already starting from this I am looking for housing. In each case, the selection of a place of residence is different. There are very expensive resorts / cities where it is better to settle in the area of the transport interchange, so as not to spend huge sums of money for a hotel, where we only need restful sleep and cleanliness.
After the selection of accommodation, the route planning begins, and this is a rather interesting part when planning an independent trip. The time of year and weather conditions, the distance between the objects that we want to visit, the need to use transport, the presence of unusual institutions, the seasonality of the attractions and of course the duration of the trip play a role here. I always start our trips by writing articles in the direction, which I myself use as our exclusive guide and give the readers of the site the opportunity to use the information free of charge.
– Pros and cons of independent travel.
– There are no downsides as such, there are nuances.
- Many people are afraid to travel on their own because of the language barrier. But I want to say that even the school level of English in most countries is enough to explain all the necessary topics. Besides, gadgets to help us and all kinds of translators.
- For fear of getting lost, the offline map with places of residence and attractions marked on it will not let you get lost anywhere.
- Of course, during independent travel in another country, difficulties may arise: you can miss the train, go to the wrong place, but I think that this should be regarded as a small adventure. With adventures, life becomes more interesting, and there are simply no hopeless situations.
– What time of the year is it more profitable to travel?
– The season depends on the direction.
- If we talk about Europe, then, of course, the summer months, especially July and August, are the most expensive. This affects both the cost of the flight and rental housing. If the vacation cannot be rescheduled, then many have to put up with it, especially if the children are allowed to travel only in the summer (school, kindergarten). In order to save money, if you are not tied to summer vacations, I recommend considering the velvet season and going to the sea in September-October. The weather is still very good, the water is warm, and there are much fewer tourists.
- And, of course, the off-season is ideal for sightseeing holidays in Europe. Here, the main thing is to be lucky with the weather. If we consider more distant and exotic destinations, then it is cheaper in those months when there is no season in this direction. The only thing is, let the price be too low so as not to come, for example, during the rainy season.
– How and when can you find cheap flights?
– Searching for air tickets is a creative process. Here, on the one hand, there is no need to rush, but on the other, if you have found a good ticket, you should take it.
I always start the search about six months before the trip, sometimes even earlier.
I use air ticket aggregators to search for a ticket for a specific destination, but before booking on the websites of intermediaries, I always check the prices on the websites of airlines. There are situations when the airline has more loyal cancellation conditions, there is a deferred payment for the ticket or additional bonuses and privileges. In addition, it is on the website of the airline that serves a specific destination that you can pick up air tickets arriving at one airport / city and departing from another. If there are less than three months left before the trip, then I recommend connecting the search for low-cost airlines. Not all of them are presented on air ticket aggregators, so you need to search, including sorting through the options manually. Low-cost airlines often fly from minor small airports, so it is better to choose a destination rather than a specific airport in your search. There are other nuances and life hacks that I talk about in my articles and videos.
– Tell us about your travel accommodation
– Some time ago it was more profitable to book apartments for travel, but recently it is not so. Now, often, a room in a good four is treated like an ordinary apartment with a kitchen. The fact is that people realized that significant travel expenses are spent on food and decided to save on it. This is absolutely correct and logical, this is how we prefer to do it. Recently, we have been looking for apartments on aggregator sites within walking distance of attractions or near transport interchanges (bus stops, railways, etc.). Much depends on how far the landmarks are from each other.
If in Tallinn it was convenient for us to walk everywhere, then we chose the apartments 400 meters from the Old Town and 1 km from the market with fresh tasty products. And, for example, in Amsterdam the center is very expensive, and we preferred a studio near the railway station and public transport stops. Accommodation should be booked as soon as you have decided on the flight, as good options are quickly sorted out. Also, when booking accommodation for travel, in addition to the location, pay attention to the room area and guest reviews. Sometimes little things like poor soundproofing or a window that won’t open will ruin your holiday.
– How do you travel in countries?
– We have tried all the methods on ourselves in different variations. The fact is that our first videos are more related to the category of not cheap travel, but now we focus on economical travel.
- We used taxis everywhere, I wrote a lot about taxi drivers’ divorces and filmed a video about this. This, of course, is the most expensive and not always convenient method. We recommend it as a last resort.
- We actively use buses, metro, trains and other public transport on trips where car rental is not expected. For example, every year we go to Italy, where it is very convenient to travel between cities by train. Since we cover long distances, this saves time, effort and money. Before the trip, we always study and tell our viewers and readers how to save money when using public transport (travel passes, buying life hacks, etc.).
- If Aviamania goes, say, to an island, then, of course, it is more convenient to rent a car and drive along all the planned routes. Car rental also has its own life hacks and nuances, for example, you always need to study the contract so that you do not impose unnecessary unnecessary options.
- In addition, I recommend finding local rental offices, often their prices are lower than international ones, and the conditions are loyal.
– Do you take out travel insurance?
– I take out insurance always and in advance, in fact, without insurance, you may even be denied entry into the country if they decide to check its availability. And if you safely arrived abroad and something happened that you decided to issue it while already abroad, then you may be left without insurance. The fact is that insurance companies are very reluctant to insure tourists who have already left abroad. Therefore, in advance, find a profitable offer on the aggregator and issue a policy for a traveler traveling abroad. I also have my own recommendations and life hacks on this issue, since the price is not always the main selection criterion. You need to compare insurance options and add special options if, say, you go to do active sports or are pregnant at the time of your trip.
– Your life hacks about independent travel.
– I have already told some of the life hacks, answering questions, but of course, this is not all. I practice shooting videos about life hacks, but I don’t have time to tell everything, as Aviamania is either constantly traveling or planning it.
- I recommend that you carefully plan your independent trip and think over the nuances in order to avoid unplanned situations. Starting from modes of transportation and ending with buying tickets for attractions. It happens that you need to buy tickets for the most popular objects a few months before the trip, or, for example, like the Dome of Brunelleschi in Florence, sign up for a specific time.
- Never panic or make hasty decisions, but treat difficulties with humor. In this case, your trips will not only paint life with new colors, but will significantly improve its quality. You know, it seems to me that only those who have never tried it do not like to travel. So join independent travelers and Aviamania!