People often make the assumption that travelers are either wealthy or don't have a stable and demanding job. It couldn't be less true and I am the perfect example of that. I've been working and living in China for the past 2,5 years. While I am earning a decent salary that doesn't make me Cresus and on top of that I only have 15 days of holidays per year. Americans might think it's a lot while Europeans, especially French people, might go on strike just by the thought of it😜. I grew up in Belgium, the capital of Europe, and trust me I am still on the accustomed phase 😂
However, there are plenty of ways to adapt and keep exploring while having a full-time job, a normal salary and fewer holiday leave because where there's a will there's a way!
Here's how I escaped from the city this weekend using my 5 tips to travel on the cheap side in China.
1.Take shorter breaks more often
Taking shorter breaks will help you not to go bankrupt as you won't be away for too long every time you travel. It will also give you time to recover financially and still get your holiday vibe. Moreover, it will allow you to spread your leave days more evenly instead of trying to hold on for those 2 weeks holiday at the end of the year. Your boss will actually thank you for that as you will be fresher throuhougt the year.
2.Escape is closer than you think
We often think that we need to go far to really have the feeling that we traveled and escaped our routine. I used to think that too but came to realize that we are surrounded by beautiful places. How far we travelled is not a guarantee for amazing holidays. Be more open minded and look at places closer to where you live as it will without a doubt be less expensive. We drove to Hangzhou which is 2 hours drive away from Shanghai. Walking around this little gem gave me all the feel and I was definitely not checking my emails!
3.Work extra hour if you can
I have limited holidays but my work requires me to work on weekends or do extra hours from time to time. I always jump on the occasion or volunteer when possible so I can accumulate those extra days and offer myself one or two nice weekend gateways later. My dad, for example, used to arrive at work earlier so he will pack up extra hours and get a day off every month. Don't be afraid to talk with your managers about it. They are human beings and most of the time very cooperative.
4.Plan Plan Plan
Planning is never fun but it's the best way to get great deals and cut the cost. It doesn't have to be crazy in advance as you would have picked a close by destination. We actually booked our hotel 4 days before departure and search on many different websites to get the best deals.
5.Try to use local websites
This advice specifically applies to China. I can speak, read and write Mandarin so it helps when it comes to finding local websites and deals. If you cannot don't hesitate to ask a friend to help you. The same hotel is sometimes 10 dollars more expensive on a more international platform than a local one. Some deals are not always open to foreigners in China so be careful when you book. Although it can be very annoying if you take the time to search you'll find something for sure so be patient.
Using those few tips, we paid around 60$/each for a beautiful weekend in Hangzhou all included.
I hope these little nuggets were helpful. I'd love to hear your tips to travel on the cheap side! In the meantime, always travel far enough you meet yourself 💋