Budget Travel In Spain
By Will Peach – Will is one of the site editors over at Gap Daemon, the community website for backpackers and gap year travellers looking for help finding work abroad.
Everyone’s got to go to Spain at least once in their lifetime right? All that sun, all that sea, all those siestas? They all help make up one exceedingly cool country. And that’s even before we’ve started talking about the fiestas!
Boo to the crisis then and the ever-increasing cost of the Euro. Budget travel in Spain? Pull the other one. Everyone knows it’s going to cost us rag and bone travellers the rest of our precious pennies.
But before you start selling your body in the back alleys of Seville just to keep the next cerveza coming, make sure you check out some of these budget travel tips. Your body? That can thank me later. It’s the wallet out I’m out to save first.
Getting around Spain needn’t be too tough. Yes the country may be huge but employ some of these crafty tactics and that fistful of, erm, Euros, will stretch further than you think.
Let’s turn our attention first to flights. Planning to fly into Spain from somewhere else in Europe? Book well in advance silly. You can save yourself a small fortune with companies like EasyJet and (dare I mention?) RyanAir.
As for the big money suck? Most people on budget travel in Spain make the mistake of snubbing the bus for the train. Big booby. Especially given that overnight travel on Spain’s bus premier bus company Avanza is one of the cheapest ways to city hop. The same tip for flights applies here too. Book early!
You’ve also got a decent option in ridesharing. Sites like Compartir.org (you’ll have to take one for the team and read in Spanish) offer lots of discounted car shares between cities, as does the forum over at travelling Mecca CouchSurfing.org.
You don’t have to worry about ending up hacked into pieces and stuffed into a bag either. Hitchhiking is quite popular in Spain if you want to give that a try. Kudos to those who do.
No doubt some of you love roughing it on the road but that ain’t my style. I much prefer a roof over my noggin.
Thank god then that Spain’s got some decent enough options for paupers like me. Check out the albergues (old style hostels with basic rooms), the most sensible option for those on budget travel in Spain. Most of these even have free wifi and breakfast too. Win!
You’ve also got the hostales, a slightly more upmarket option for the posh babies among you. These come in around the 20-30 Euro a night range. Need something cheaper? Fondas, those little alcoves over bars, can also be rented on a nightly basis for next to nothing. Again you’ll need Spanish to book these with the drunken bartenders!
Don’t forget Spain’s wide array of campsites either. Most have cabins meaning you don’t even have to lug around a tent. Great for frail little urchins like me.
And with the summer also comes a lot of discounted options to stay in University dorms too. Check out the big student towns like Salamanca and Granada for cheap and cheerful accommodation options.
Activities and Experiences
The best thing about Spain? It’s got loads of fun stuff to hit up for next to nothing. And I don’t just mean getting your prayer on in those quaint old Catholic joints either. I’m talking about museums, tours and festivals baby!
Even in Spain’s small cities there are usually a number of free museums to plunder (I’m not advocating burglary here). Head to your local tourist information office to get the low-down. Play your cards right and they’ll even give you a free map too.
In big cities like Zaragoza, Granada and Barcelona a top tip is to purchase a city travel card. These will give you free entrance and tours to the majority of attractions for a one-off fee. Madrid’s got two such cards offering 24-72 hour access to over 53 museums, free tours (including one of Real Madrid’s ground The Bernabeu) and discounts in restaurants. All for between 47-74 Euros.
If you’re lucky to be a student enjoying budget travel in Spain you can also take advantage of the ISIC card, the famous international student discount card, to enjoy many of Spain’s attractions at heavy discounts. It’s also worth checking out the site even if you aren’t one of those sleep-in, lazy, cereal-eating, types. Bitter? Me!
Of course you could just screw city cards entirely and visit museums on free days (check their websites for details). Be prepared to get up close and personal with the crowds however. Visiting on these days is a very popular tactic with the travelling thrifty!
Tapas and your teeth? Destined to get on like a house on fire. Food is where it’s at in Spain and, thanks to many generous bar owners, you can eat for free while swigging on beer or wine too.
You’ll want to avoid pinxtos in the Basque Country however, the prices are upped for drinks that come with food in North Spain. Tuck in though in regions like Andalucia and Extremadura where you can bar hop and fill up for free. Some even offer small meals like sausages, fries, tostadas and hamburgers.
Outside of restaurants you can fill up on fresh fruit and vegetables from the small neighbourhood shops (usually cheaper than supermarkets) and even use the local delicatessens and butchers (still wildly popular in Spain).
Take full advantage of eating like the locals do too. Start with a small breakfast (a tostada and coffee) and enjoy a big lunch. The menu del dia (a legal requirement of restaurants) serves up two main dishes, a drink and often a dessert at 10 Euro a pop. Eating out on budget travel in Spain is no biggie.
And there’s always McDonalds and Burger King. But seriously? It’s Spain! Land of the tapas and tortilla! You’d be mad to march up to Big Ron.
Making a booty call anywhere in Spain is easy as 1-2-3 (call that and you’ll get nowhere though). Public telephones are everywhere, coin-operated and cheap. Enough privacy to talk as dirty as you want too.
If your phones unblocked you can use pay-as-you-go SIMS from Orange, T-Mobile and MoviStar also. Some of the plans even offer free 3G roaming. Handy if you’ve got yourself one of those snazzy smartphones.
As for my last top tip to save you from prostitution and survive budget travel in Spain? It’s pretty simple. Wander the streets for free!
Life in Spain is lived on las calles. Ambling through them is always a joy. And if you see this rather obvious guiri? Do say hi.