Its the time of the year in Australia where many of the travel companies start with their advertising for cheap airfares and other deals for backpackers on their way to Europe for a gap year . Ignoring the information on student work visas though – most of it will suit the older traveller who is looking for a good deal.
Getting a cheap airfare deal in the early part of the year should be easy – Europeans are leaving for the southern hemisphere in droves to avoid their winter. So the plans fly 1/2 empty on the way back to Europe – and those are the cheap tickets.
Youth hostels no longer have age restrictions – except in southern Germany so yes you can stay in the them and yes they will save you an enormous amount of money particularly in Western Europe and the UK.
Hiring a car gets cheaper with age – thank goodness – its still not cheap but long term leasing arrangements in Europe can be a good deal if you are a small group. Its also a lot less time wasting than buying and selling a vehicle.
The best way though to save money on a long trip is to travel more slowly. Fast travel eats your cash – well fast! Slow down – take slower forms of transport – walk or cycle – and you will not only see more of the country but you will save a huge amount of money. Short-term, traditional tourists pay a lot for convenience because time is money for them. But if you are travelling for a long time than fast travel will burn you out – and and burn your budget.
Slow down – the more closely to living as a local you can manage the cheaper it will be. Many locals in Asia eat at the street stalls rather than cooking at home – that’s why they are so cheap. If you leave the air-conditioned, English-menu tourist restaraunts and join the locals you will find great food, ambience and very cheap prices!
Take a local bus or train rather than a hire car and experience life at the ground level. The only thing you lose by saving money on long-term travel is time – but that’s the whole point isn’t it?