This week, I came back from a very spontaneous trip. As you can tell from reading the title, I went to the beautiful city of Barcelona. As some of you might know, after spending a whole year going to high school in Costa Rica when I was 16, finishing high school and then going back there to work and live in Latin America, I moved back to Germany and started university this year (2016). I just completed my first semester and am still unsure about uni, about living in Germany and about staying here. I guess I’ll just always have a serious case of “fernweh”, so right after my last exams for the semester (literally a few hours later), I set off to Cologne to take a flight to Barcelona from there. It was my second time traveling to Barcelona and it was even better than the first time, some would say despite, but I’d say because of the fact that I hadn’t planned out the trip beforehand. Find out how I managed to get cheap flights and a beautiful location with only a few days’ notice.
So, what did I start with?
Figure out where to go
I knew that I wanted to go to Spain, and if I think about it, the main reason for that wish was the language. I often feel like I need to escape the German language and it’s been that way ever since I was little. As I mentioned here, I have kept a journal ever since I learned how to write, and in my very first journal, I wrote that I wanted to “stop speaking German and only speak Romance languages from now on”. Romance languages are those that evolved from Latin, and I guess I just thought they sounded prettier than German. So I decided on Barcelona, because even though Catalán is the dominant language, almost everyone is willing to speak Castellano (Spanish).
The last time I went to Barcelona was exactly two years ago, and – oh, my God. So much has changed. I still have some pictures from that trip on my Instagram right here and here. Back then, a friend and I went on a road trip down the coast of Spain. We didn’t have a car, but we took buses and walked, so I guess technically, it wasn’t so much of a road trip as it was backpacking. Back then, we took a flight to Barcelona and stayed there for a few days, traveled South to Calella and traveled back up to Barcelona.
Find an accommodation
So to continue with the story, back then, we chose to stay at a hostel, the Urbany BCN Go. The big plus was that it had a whirlpool and a rooftop, but the rooms left a lot to be desired. I have stayed in lots of different hostels and slept on couches and even the ground, and I guess this hostel room (dorm room of over 12 people) was okay, but it wasn’t very clean. The location was good and we still felt very comfortable there, and if I were to stay at a hostel in Barcelona again, I might consider this one.
This time, after looking at hotels and hostels, I chose an apartment on the AirBnB app, which turned out to be cheaper and all around the best choice. It was my first time using AirBnB and I wasn’t disappointed. If you like your space, and like to go out or cook your own dishes, you should definitely consider AirBnB. If you have never stayed at an AirBnB, click this link to get a gift of 30€. There’s no need to book an AirBnB right in this instant, but when you do, you will get 30€ off if you register through this link.
Book a flight
There are many sites and apps to facilitate the process of finding cheap flights, but I recommend the app Skyscanner if you’re flexible on the dates of your flight. As for websites, KAYAK is the best website to find the cheapest flight. There is a tool called “explore” to see other airports nearby that might offer a cheaper connection. Another idea is to sign up for newsletters that will entail “special offers”. For everyone from Germany: I’m signed up for the “Urlaubsguru” newsletter to receive last minute offers.
My personal top tip that I have given to a few friends is to use a Private Window when searching for flights. Yep, that’s the window you open when you want to stay incognito. Why? Because as the internet registers your interest in a flight, prices will actually spike. While some say that’s an illusion, I have had the experience that when looking for a flight at say 3 pm and it being at $90, the fare will jump up to a $130 when I check the same site in the evening or the following day. The Private Window will prevent that from happening. Now that I look back at this post, I realize it has turned into an advice post on planning a spontaneous vacation rather than a Barcelona diary, so I will talk about Barcelona in one of my next blog posts if you’re interested in what I did and what restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs I went to. Currently I can’t seem to get the comment section working (even though it is enabled in the settings), so feel free to leave comments under my latest Instagram post.
All I have left to say is: Do it, if you can. If you have a choice, travel.