HOW TO ORGANIZE A TRIP TO PORTUGAL?
Thanks to the cheap flight that are offered by more and more airlines, Portugal is an easy destination to reach, in terms of budget, of course. Lisbon, Porto or Faro are only few hours away and still in reasonable prices even in high season. Each of these cities offers different tourist attractions, but all of them are in the areas with the access to the Ocean and to wide sandy beaches. If you feel like you need a rest and few days of relaxing sunbathe away from the crowds, start preparing your trip straight away!
When I was looking at some travel agencies’ offers, I got a feeling that Portugal is not the cheapest destination, more expensive than, for example Spain or Italy. The truth is that prices in all of these countries are similar, while Portugal appears slightly cheaper sometimes. The most budget-friendly is to organize holiday in Portugal yourself. Give it a moment to read through this post and you are going to find out that preparations don’t have to be a drag at all!
But, wait: Where to begin?!
I would start from choosing the dates and finding the flight. If you are not restricted in any way, it is worth picking one or two months in which you could go. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be find the best offer. Except the cheap airlines (Ryanair, Wizzair, EasyJet, Enter), budget holiday searching sites and search engines (Fly4free, HolidayPirates, Skyscanner, Momondo), check available seats on charter flights in your nearby travel agency. Sometimes they have spare seats and to fill up the plane, they lower the prices. Plus the main luggage is most likely already included in the price! When you find the affordable tickets, don’t hesitate and buy them. It is not always worth waiting for ages for the prices to drop, because they may never do and there are many people, who are looking for the best deals, just like you. So how do you know how much to spend on the plane tickets? In my opinion the good price starts from 70-80 euro for return. Good luck!
Once you have your plane tickets, it’s time to think about accommodation. There are two views on when is the best time to book it. If you have a possibility to book a lot in advance, you will have bigger choice, but sometimes you will not get the best price. On the other hand, if you wait until the last minute, you may not have a lot to choose from, but the prices will drop the closer you are to your departure. What to decide on then? Set your final budget and the minimal conditions you want to live in and search for the best option on the Internet. In my experience, the longer I waited, the better: I booked an amazing apartment two days before the holiday for half its price.
Where to find the best accommodation? Except the obvious search engines, such as Booking.com, Trivago or Tripadvisor, try to find a room or an apartment on AirBnB from a private owner. If you travel as a group, check Interhome for houses and large apartments for rent. Whereas you are open-minded and spontaneous, visit Couchsurfing to find a private room at somebody’s place for free.
Now it’s time to think about transportation in Portugal. Firstly, ask yourself few questions: do I want to travel and visit some places, how far is it from my hotel to the beach or to the shop, is airport transfer all I need? Public transport is well-developed and easy to follow. Renting a car is also a good choice and it is not that expensive, especially if you rent for a longer period of time. If you don’t want to or can’t drive, further distances can be reach by train. The timetable is available HERE. The best way to move around the city is by bus, the schedule is available HERE.
How to rent a car? The easiest way is to book your car even before going on holiday, but most of the renting companies require credit card and a huge deposit, depending on the size and brand of the car, for example: deposit for a four-person middle sized car oscillates around 1000 euro! And how to get the money for it, when it equals the price of the holiday?! Have a look around at the local car rentals once you get to Portugal. This is how I did it and the local company turned out to be professional and budget-friendly. I rented Hyundai i20 for three days and it costed me 110 euro in total, including full insurance. The only additional cost was the motorway charges, if applied. How to safely rent a car? Make sure you read the conditions carefully, don’t try to save up on insurance and everything should be fine.