Booking websites like Skyscanner have a search “Everywhere” option. You can see the cheapest flights from your location to anywhere in the world. You may well find a destination you hadn't initially thought of, or find a popular destination for much cheaper than you assumed. We planned a 3 week holiday in Europe this way and would pick the cheapest destination from each location. Our flight from Greece to Bulgaria was only 9 pounds! Also be sure to take advantage of using the 'Whole Month' option on websites like Skyscanner, if you are open minded about when you can travel, this is a great way to save. To illustrate this point I have attached a screenshot of how varied the prices of a flight from London to Berlin and back can be.
Think of your holiday like a day trip, arriving early will give you more time to explore and likewise with a later return. Always double check flight times before booking and decide whether an extra nights accommodation is worth the money saved on an evening flight. This way you'll get more from your holiday for less.
The check in times of most hotels and Airbnbs are in the afternoon while check out times are in the morning. You don't want to waste time dragging around luggage (most attractions will let not let you in with baggage anyway!). Some hostels, hotels and stations have lockers for a fee but you can skip that all together if you bring a backpack instead. Plus bringing less keeps you organized and means you don't have to worry about extensive time unpacking and packing, as well as having more things to potentially worry about misplacing.
We've been a few of these tours and found that you are not given enough time to explore, you see the “tourist side” of the destination and they are usually very expensive. Why not plan your own trip? You can cater it to your interests and make time for the activities you enjoy.
Now that you've picked your destination, search day trips from the city. You can often get to these using public transit. We found the beautiful medieval town of Besalú this way when we went to Girona, Spain.
This way you'll see the city and culture beyond the tourist areas. We always stay in private rooms through Airbnb within a home. This way we can get to know people and find out where the locals go. Which brings me to my next point…
Whether it's your Airbnb host or receptionist, ask them where the best places are. Locals know the best (and cheapest) places to eat and beautiful places to see. We find this method much more reliable than online reviews. On the same holiday in Spain, our Airbnb host told us about the town of Castellfollit de la Roca and it ended up being the highlight of our trip! Our general rule of thumb while traveling is 'If the locals are doing it, it can't be bad'.
We look into the travel times between each place we want to check out and anything under a 30 minute walk, we'll do without the aid of public transit. You'll stumble upon hidden gems and save money! While wandering between attractions in Rome and Athens we stumbled across stunning churches and ancient walls that would have been totally missed otherwise! Bike sharing systems, where you can hire bicycles using your phone and drop them off wherever you end up, make riding around major cities easier than ever before. Just like with walking, you'll see places most tourists never do! Finally, you can take the train. We often do this if we are traveling within a country. For example, it was much cheaper to take the train from Venice to Rome and we got to see the beautiful Italian countryside complete with quaint villages and wineries.
Download your destination on Google maps before you go. This way you don't need to keep stopping in places with WiFi to get directions. Having pictures saved of translations or routes on your phone is also a great way to overcome potential language barriers, instead of trying and failing to ask for directions to a place, showing the place name on your phone is much easier. Another way to save time and stress is to buy tickets online ahead of your trip for any major attractions you know you want to go to. You'll skip the lines and have more time to spend checking out other things.
This one is very budget friendly and offers you more ways to enjoy your holiday. Tourist attractions are advertised heavily (especially costly ones!) and often you can miss a lot of what the destination truly has to offer. This way the money you do have will go further or towards a nice dinner. We have found Pinterest useful for this as its possible to find many step-by-step guides for each place.