COACH TIPS – Traveling is within reach of all students, provided they plan ahead and be flexible. Our adventurer journalist reminds us what reflexes to adopt to travel (very) often without breaking the bank.
When he is not writing the Figaro Student, he is on a train or a plane taking him to new horizons. Almost every week, Jean-Marc De Jaeger travels to France or Europe, faithful to the principle “travel trains youth”. Travel, a luxury? “Absolutely not, provided you are flexible, anticipate and take the time to compare prices,” he insists. On his blog, lefouduvoyage.fr, he shares his tips, experiences and thoughts on travel. For the Figaro Studenthe delivers some tips and tricks to leave often without spending too much.
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“Shifting your stay by a few days can halve the bill” Jean-Marc de Jaeger
1-Be flexible on destinations and comfort
This is the key principle of any smart traveler: flexibility. Wanting to leave for a specific destination on a specific date is the best way to pay the high price… First of all, you have to be flexible in the choice of destinations. In other words, if you absolutely want to leave, choose your destination according to the price of the ticket. Perhaps you will be surprised by a city you never thought of. Another useful tip for long-haul flights: look for flights departing from border airports, such as Brussels, Geneva, Frankfurt or Barcelona, which are cheaper on certain destinations.
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Another point on which to be flexible: comfort and the way of traveling. It is quite possible to pay 200 € for a return trip between Paris and America, but you have to accept to travel light (only one piece of luggage is authorized) and not to take a meal on board. Similarly, most Asian countries (Japan, Hong Kong, etc.), long deemed overpriced, are accessible from €350 round trip, provided you make a stopover and therefore extend your journey by several hours. Coach journeys are economical, especially at night, but again comfort should not be your primary concern.
2-Anticipate and play on the dates
After the destination and the comfort, the most important thing is to be flexible on the dates. Postponing your stay by a few days or leaving for the weekend on Friday morning and returning on Monday evening can cut the bill in half. High school and university students unfortunately have less flexibility than employees. Students who do not take exams in June have every interest in starting this month, one of the cheapest of the year. For those who come back to school late, prices start to drop from the beginning of September. Alas, you shouldn’t expect to find good deals during major holidays and end-of-year celebrations.
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It’s no longer a secret: the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets. Anticipating is the best way to get seats sold at the call price (from €5 at Ryanair, for example). Be careful not to book too early, a year in advance, as prices may drop in the meantime.
3- Spend time comparing
When you find a price, ask yourself if there is a cheaper ticket. The best way to be sure is to use a flight comparator, such as Google Flights, Kayak or Liligo. I particularly recommend Skyscanner, complete and easy to use. The “Explore” function is very interesting for the undecided. By entering your departure city, dates and budget, you get the list of corresponding destinations in a few seconds. The site is able to display the months when the flight is the cheapest. You can also use Algofly to find out the average price of a flight and create an alert: if the price drops, you are notified immediately. Another site specializing in tips: Voyages Pirates. Publishers search for the best offers for you.
For accommodation, I recommend the sites Booking, Hotels and Hostelworld. The first two list accommodation of all kinds (hotels, campsites, bed and breakfasts, etc.). Hostelworld is more specialized in hostels. Here again, you will benefit from being flexible, for example by favoring a small accommodation away from the city center.
“I got a flight to the Canary Islands for €1 thanks to an email sent by Volotea”Jean-Marc de Jaeger
4-Subscribe to newsletters and follow transport news
When a new company launches or a new link is created, you can expect particularly advantageous introductory offers. One of the easiest ways to find out is to sign up for airline newsletters. In this way, you are among the first informed when a promotion or flash sale begins. The newsletter is not to be neglected. It allows you to make surreal bargains, like for me a flight to the Canary Islands at 1€ thanks to an email sent by Volotea. Keep an eye on transport and tourism news by reading the Figaro Économie or specialized media such as L’Écho touristique or TourMag.
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5-Find out about offers dedicated to young people
Passes, financial aid, organized stays… There are lots of offers specially aimed at young people. the Figaro Student has listed some of these great deals. Among them, let’s mention the TGVmax subscription which allows unlimited use of the TGV anywhere in France. At €79 per month, the investment can pay for itself from the first trip. To make a tour of Europe, the best is to use an Interrail pass, valid in 30 countries. For 15 days of unlimited travel, count 337€. Flixbus offers an equivalent pass for the coach: the Interflix at 99€ for five journeys in Europe. Each journey therefore costs €20, whatever the distance and the time of year. These two passes are interesting to use in the summer because their price is fixed and does not fluctuate like the price of flights.
Babysitting can get you free train or plane travel. The KidyGo company, founded by two young graduates of the École centrale de Nantes, connects young babysitters and parents looking for a companion to take their child on a trip. The babysitter can, at his choice, have his ticket paid or receive compensation. A useful solution for students who go home to their parents on weekends.