Budget traveller’s bucket list: insider tips & flight deals to help you live the dream
- Party on a Thai beach
- See the Mona Lisa in Paris
- Drive Route 66
- Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
- See the Big Five on safari
- See the Northern Lights
Put this on your list: Party on the sands at full moon
Throw shapes on the sand with the waves lapping at your feet with over 10,000 revellers. Haad Rin beach on the paradise isle of Koh Phangan hosts these parties every month. Expect non-stop house music, fire dancers and rum cocktails in plastic buckets. If you don’t coincide with full moon, there are black moon and half moon parties on the island too.
Budget tip: Prices rise steeply at full moon, so stay up the coast at Ban Tai.
Flight deal: Fly to Bangkok from €398* return
More tips: How to sleep well on long flights
Put this on your list: See the Mona Lisa
The city of love is the place to go for a little romance beyond Valentine’s Day. Stroll arm-in-arm along the Seine, browse the stalls and boutiques of Montmartre, climb the Eiffel Tower and then visit the Louvre to try to work out what the world’s most enigmatic woman is really smiling about.
Budget tip: Entry to the Louvre is free on the first Saturday of each month (6 pm-9:45 pm) and on Bastille Day (14 July).
Flight deal: Fly to Paris from €34* return
Put this on your list: Drive Route 66
How about this for getting your kicks in 2020? Driving the world’s most famous road! If you don’t have the three weeks spare to properly do the full 4,000 kilometres, then just do the western segment from Los Angeles to Oklahoma. The stretch from Seligman to Kingsman is particularly atmospheric, with historic filling stations, neon-lit diners and miles of rolling countryside under sharp, blue skies. Make time to detour to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff, if you can.
Budget tip: Use Skyscanner to find cheap USA car-hire deals.
Flight deal: Fly to LA from €367* return. Or use Skyscanner’s multi-city search to fly from Ireland to LA, then back from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
More budget travel tips: Cheat the baggage charges with this handy guide
Put this on your list: Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
The world’s largest and most spectacular underwater paradise is a must-visit for any wildlife fan. It’s more than 2,500 kilometres long and populated with myriad fish, turtles, rays and sharks. Much of the reef is surprisingly near the surface, so a snorkel is all you need to swim among the phantasmagorical fish life and sparkling corals.
Budget tip: Base yourself in Cairns. The abundance of vessels here keeps boat-trip prices low.
Flight deal: Fly to Cairns from €855* return
More budget travel tips: Avoid airline charges with these 10 insider tips
Put this on your list: See the Big Five on safari
Safari packages can cost a fortune, but there are ways to see Africa‘s amazing wildlife for much less. A self-drive option in Namibia allows you to go at your own pace, take your own food and camp in cheap campsites. Etosha National Park is the place to go. It’s vast, spanning 22,000 square kilometres, and home to elephants, lions, cheetahs and even black rhinos. The tracks inside the park are good, so you don’t even need to hire a pricey 4WD vehicle.
Budget tip: No need to hire an expensive private guide. Just park up at a waterhole and wait for the animals, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
Flight deal: Fly to Namibia from €505* return
More budget travel tips: 7 costly mistakes that will squeeze your holiday budget
Put this on your list: See the Northern Lights
The long dark nights in winter make this time of year ideal for seeing the skies shimmer with greens, blues and even occasionally reds. For your best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis (aka Northern Lights), you need to be above latitude 60 degrees. Your cheapest bet for getting this far north is the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, where you’ll find ample late-night Northern Lights bus trips from around €50.
Budget tip: Skip the expensive and busy Blue Lagoon. This island is bubbling with cheaper – often free – natural hot springs. Ask your hotel or the friendly locals to tell you where to find the nearest one.
Flight deal: Fly to Iceland this March from €126*
*Revised February 2020. All flight prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices as found using Skyscanner’s flight search tool, cheapest month for return flights, 1 person, economy. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 10th February 2020.