Travelling on a Budget in January

After the holiday excitement, many people overlook the opportunities that January brings. In an effort to drum up business, companies put many travel routes on sale, and buyers find all kinds of savings and deals available. Cheap holidays are particularly available in January, and there are a variety of tactics you can use to get out of the winter doldrums and into a different location.

The first thing to do is plan ahead. If you know you want to go somewhere well before the holidays, put something related to your January travel on your holiday wish list. Planning to fly a particular airline? Many of them offer gift cards. Encourage your friends and family to purchase an airline gift card for you if your plans are secure. Just remember that a Virgin gift card can’t be used on British Air, or vice-versa. So if you go this route, just make sure you will actually fly with the specific airline. Gift cards may be available for car rental companies and larger hotel chains as well, so if you know you’ll stay at a Premier Inn or rent a car from Sixt, see if gift cards are available and encourage those as gifts. There’s no better way to stay on a budget than to have someone else pick up part of the bill! Of course, you can always explain your plans and just ask for cash.

Use a travel consolidator website for your initial search for bargains. Consolidator websites like bring you comparisons of many different airlines at once. You can change the date, time, number of connections and other criteria to see how changes will affect your ticketed price. Often, flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday will bring significant savings, as will flying late at night or very early in the morning. These are typically times when planes do not fly full, and since the plane will be flying anyway, the airlines would rather fill the seats than pay for the fuel to fly the plane with empty seats.

Another way to find savings on January holidays is to consider a half-board or even self-catered holiday rather than an all-inclusive holiday. With all-inclusive packages, you often end up paying for meals, activities or services you don’t use. Save that money by buying the lower-cost options and then using the money you save to more fully experience your destination. You can eat in small eateries that source their ingredients locally and get a more authentic experience.

Consider whether or not you really need car hire. Is there public transport where you’re going? Car hire is notoriously expensive and by the time you add the cost of petrol and insurance to the base price, it can eat up a huge amount of your holiday budget. Opting for buses and trains, plus the occasional taxi, may save you even more money.

With a little planning and time spent considering your options, a cheap holiday is very possible in January.

Travel Planning Tips

Traveling should be an enjoyable experience – not a stressful one. Planning a trip ahead of time and following a few simple rules is the best way to make sure a trip will fun and memorable for the right reasons and not for any problems that arise.

The best travel advice is to plan ahead. Booking tickets and hotels months ahead of the actual trip will often equal cheaper prices than trying to make reservations at the last minute. Comparing rates between hotels and airlines can also help travelers find the best discounts so they can save money for the trip. A few extra hours spent online doing your research can result in huge savings. It also pays off to sign up for travel deals that can be sent to you weekly or monthly, this way you won’t miss any special promotions and deals. Travelers also need to make sure that they have all required vaccinations or medications before the trip and that they are familiar with any entry requirements, such as visas, to avoid having their trip be delayed or canceled.

When traveling it is best to hope for the best but to plan for the worst. No matter how carefully a trip may be planned, accidents happen. Thieves may take passports or wallets or travelers may be injured or get sick. It is a good idea for travelers to make sure they have copies of all their important documents in a safe place, or left with a trusted person at home. Health insurance for travel ensures that travelers in need of medical care will be treated – without having to raid their savings account or use all of their travel funds. Health insurance for travel is often available for a small fee through banks, credit cards or regular health insurance plans and may even pay for emergency travel back home if needed.

The best way to experience a new place is to soak up the local culture. Guidebooks list great places to visit and enjoy, but travelers should try to ask locals about the best sights to see and places to eat for a truly unique experience. Trips do not just have to be memorialized in pictures either; videos, souvenirs, maps, local newspapers and traditional clothes or jewelry all commemorate trips in unique ways. Travelers should make sure they are respectful of any local customs or beliefs; politely asking people if something is allowed can avoid misunderstandings or offensive behavior.

They say that the things gone wrong make the best of memories. Yet ruining the long-awaited trip due to lack of planning is something many travelers regret later on and try to avoid in the future.

Winter Holidays in Skopje, Macedonia

Skopje is situated in the Povardarie region of Macedonia and is seeing an increase in popularity with tourists in recent years. Off-season flights can typically be a lot cheaper than travelling during summer, so some great bargains can often be had – it’s a great opportunity to visit somewhere you might not visit otherwise. Skopje experiences cold and snowy winters where temperatures range from 6 °C during the day to -10 °C at night. Skopje has a wide range of attractions and sights that must be seen. As the winters are cold, indoor activities are popular during this time.

Getting there:
Skopje has had a significant increase in the number of low cost airlines flying there in recent times. Wizzair, Belle Air and Air Berlin are among those providing flights from many cities around Europe. Low Cost Airline Guide is a great starting place for researching available low cost airline routes which you can then book direct with the airline.

Top Attractions:
High on most visitors must see list is Kale Fortress, which is located on the highest hill in the Skopje valley, so provides a breath-taking view of the city, particularly in the snow, as well as an interesting and varied history.

The city is particularly proud of the Stone Bridge, which was built in the 6th century, and has ever since been the city’s symbol. It connects the main square to the Old Bazaar, and really must be seen to be appreciated. This is a sight not to be missed in the winter as if you catch it in the snow it looks stunning.

Stone Bridge in Skopje, Macedonia
[Stone Bridge in Skopje, Macedonia]

Skopje has a huge array of nightlife. Casinos play a large part in Skopje’s popularity, as well as the bars and nightclubs. Music is a big part of Skopje’s culture with concerts being held at Philip II National Arena and Boris Trajkovski Sports Center all year round. The increase in visitors has also influenced the national government to extend opening hours in the Old Bazaar, where a multitude of restaurants, cafes and shops can be found for those that enjoy a more relaxed pace.

A variety of sports are also popular in Skopje, with both Philip II Arena and the Boris Trajkovski Sports Center providing facilities. The Philip II Arena is currently used mostly for football matches but other events are also held here, as well as a health spa and fitness facilities. The Boris Trajkovski Sports Center includes rooms, especially for handball, basketball and volleyball, in addition to a bowling alley, fitness area and an ice-hockey rink, which is very popular in the winter.

Hiking opportunities are rife in Skopje, and a common attraction is Vodno Mountain. Climbing Vodno Mountain offers a fantastic view of the city and valley. It also provides the opportunity to see the Millennium Cross, which is the largest Christian cross in the world.

Millennium Cross, Vodno
[Millennium Cross, Vodno]

Skopje is the ideal place to start Christmas shopping as it contains a huge variety of outlets and markets. The Old Bazaar, although not as big as it used to be, is still one of the largest in the Balkan Peninsula. It has always been used as a shopping area, but also as a contact area for the Christian and Muslim populations as they traditionally lived in different areas of the town. The Old Bazaar now consists of many streets lined with small shops, with each street hosting a craft. For example, one street may offer gold and jewellery, whereas another may be home to clothing. It is also surrounded by markets offering everything from food and animals to wooden goods.

As well as the more traditional shopping experiences, Skopje also has a huge range of more modern shopping centres. The GTC, Ramstore Mall, Biser and Bunjakovec are all shopping centres or malls with everything you could possibly need under one roof, including shops, restaurants and cafes. Bargains can be found it various locations around the city, whether in a market or shopping mall so it is really worth hunting around here for Christmas gifts.

Skopje is considered the cultural centre of Macedonia, and so museums can be found in abundance throughout the city. Museums provide a great outing, particularly if the weather is too cold. The most popular museum is the Museum of Contemporary Arts, which, as the name may suggest, is dedicated to preserving contemporary art. The city also hosts a number of festivals, which are held at various times during the course of the year, so be sure to check events that will be held in the city during your visit.

Skopje has a huge range of activities available, with the range constantly increasing due to the rise in visitors. Although it can be cold and snowy in winter, the snow adds to its charm and makes this beautiful city even more appealing. There is something for every taste in Skopje and there is plenty to do both indoors and outdoors no matter what the winter weather has in store, so Skopje is guaranteed to keep you entertained.

Enjoy your trip, and enjoy a drink of Rakia for us!