A student budget doesn’t offer up much in the way of holidaying, especially if you’re not wanting to dip into that overdraft. The boyfriend and I wanted to take our first couples trip, but we had to do so on a budget, or we wouldn’t get much further than our local shopping centre. L’Escala gave us the perfect low cost, highly photogenic and enjoyable holiday – but on a budget.
I’ll be transparent from the start by saying we have a friend, Sam, who offered us a room in his villa, this obviously lowered costs overall. However, it certainly wasn’t a five-star resort and it wasn’t catered, so food was up to us. Also, staying in L’Escala out of season (we went mid-June,) can be pretty cheap – here are two places I would suggest for a decent price: this one is a studio flat rental for £32 a night, while this one is closer to the sea and has a pool for £30 a night. (Don’t forget to check for discounts when you’re staying for a week too.)
Flight wise, Ryanair are the only airline to fly to Girona, the closest airport to L’Escala, so there isn’t too much confusion with regards to which airline. It won’t be luxurious (my last flight was with Emirates, so it was certainly different,) but it will be cheap. We looked around a month before, we’re hardly the most organised holiday makers, and I imagine you can get flights cheaper if you book further in advance. Saying that though, we scooped return flights for around £60 each.
As it’s Ryanair they do try to sting you with extra charges. The £60 return included 2 bags – one small suitcase and one rucksack or handbag – they place the suitcase in the hold as you go to board the plane. This stops you taking liquids over 100ml as it goes through security, but it’s cheaper than paying and extra £55 (per way) to check in a larger bag in the hold. You can add priority boarding if you really want, but all that means is that you get on five minutes earlier, can take your suitcase on and pick a seat. Of course, this comes at an extra cost of £6pp per way and seemed pretty pointless to us. The basic flight cost did mean Will and I sat apart both ways but it’s a short flight and there’s always Netflix to keep you entertained.
From the airport in Girona to L’Escala it’s a 45 minute drive, you could hire a car if you wanted, we decided to get a taxi which cost €50 each way. Getting around on foot while we were there, it was nice to see hidden gems and get the step count up. In total, per person, we spent around £110 (not takin into account the exchange rate € to £). Which for nine days, doesn’t seem too bad at all, and could have been cheaper if we had booked further in advance. Sam manages to get flights for under £50 return, so it certainly can be done.
Between us we took around €200, I bought some off my mum €120 for around £90 and we got the rest from the Post Office. They have a deal to buy back leftover currency without commission if you keep the receipt. We used this money for everything; souvenirs, food shops, meals out and cocktails. Throughout our time in L’Escala we worked out there were many things we could have done cheaper. For example, we didn’t have to eat out or go for drinks, but we had budgeted for this, so it wasn’t a problem. There’s also and Aldi and Lidl in walking distance, so we could have bypassed the smaller corner shops – but it was a holiday and sometimes it feels good being lazy!
Things to do on our trip were made easier by the fact our trip coincided with the World Cup and Summer Solstice celebrations. The World Cup was still in its group stages when we arrived so there were three to four games a day, and ALL the bars have a tv. Our flight actually got in just in time for a Spain game, so we sat among Spanish fans at a bar that for €2 would give you a drink and a plate of tapas – the perfect post flight snack. It should be noted that it’s cheaper to drink alcohol in Spain, than it is to drink soft drinks, which is crazy. We strolled along the beach on a number of evenings, deciding which bar to watch the games in, we even found an English bar for the England vs Panama game. If you’re not a football fan this might not appeal to you but sitting out on the beach drinking a cold beverage is always a winning idea.
I mention the Summer Solstice celebration, more as a warning than a suggestion; frankly it was terrifying. The celebration takes place on the Saturday after the 21st of June. As it’s a Saturday the beach front is absolutely packed, but unlike most other days it’s with kids carrying fireworks instead of tourists with towels. We went out for drinks hoping to catch a firework display – it turned out to be a ‘bring your own fireworks’ event, and I didn’t exactly feel safe. We ended up grabbing some ice cream, and eating them as fast as possible, fearing early onset deafness.
We took the backroads back to the villa that night, this was after some adults threw a ‘poppers’ (I think they’re called,) at their children, who returned fire with a handful. Similarly, while eating a group threw a larger firework out to sea, however it ended up landing under the decking scaring the crap out of us all. I wasn’t all bad though; we ended up back at the villa with drinks on the roof terrace, watching the many fireworks from a safe distance. We didn’t get much sleep that night either, the fireworks went on till Sunday with a few continuing on longer!
We also spent a couple of days lounging around by the pool. With 30-degree heat, even those who tend to seek shade (and lather on the suncream,) found it refreshing. We did try a day at the beach, but it was short lived as the heat was getting to us. There are some lovely walks around L’Escala, and you don’t have to go far to find somewhere beautiful. We ended up in the old town, which is 20 minutes away from the sea front and found a lovely restaurant to eat in too.
I doubt you would, but if you get bored of the regular beach I’d recommend the 30-minute walk to Montgo, the views are exquisite, and you could even jump into the sea from the cliffs – as long as you don’t mind the long swim back. (Will didn’t fancy it in the end.) Keep walking along the sea front if you want a change of scenery.
Overall, it was quite easy to keep costs low: food, drinks and a couple of souvenirs were the main expenses, and that still allowed us the freedom to enjoy ourselves without spending our whole holiday counting pennies. Between us we spent just under £450 if you include the £15 spent on travel insurance for those just in case worries (and the fact we were flying Ryanair!) For two students on a nine-day holiday, I’d say we did extremely well. I would 100% go back again too, we’re already planning when we could go next year – hopefully with cheaper flights if we were more prepared.
That’s all for my first proper travel post, I really hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you do and I might consider writing more, as I really liked writing this. I did the majority on holiday actually, relaxing in the sun – as it’s still sunny back at home perhaps I can continue to do so.