You may pay twenty bucks for a jar of red caviar or thirty for a bottle of good vodka. How about eighty five for a Soviet fur hat…As with any travel destination, the price of souvenirs in Ukraine can add up quickly. Of course, you can skip on buying gifts, yet the best way to save cool cash in Kiev Ukraine is to do some planning ahead of time, at home.
Indeed, thousands of dollars can be saved just by making two intelligent choices: Your air travel, and your accommodation. An $1200 round trip from New York to Kiev might seem logical, as might $99 per night for a room in a two-star hotel. You can do much better. Much better. Here is how.
Explaining the existence of travel-related websites is akin to explaining how to operate a seat belt – you feel silly explaining the obvious, but you just don't want to leave someone out. In that spirit, allow me to mention the main travel sites. Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, Kayak…these are some of the most popular travel websites (and I have no affiliation with any of them).
On these websites, you type in your voyage dates and destination, and they look for the databases of most of the major airlines, hotel chains, rental car companies and so forth. In a few moments search results show you the best prices available based on the details of your query.
Small but an important advise: When probing flights, be sure to check at least these four websites, and if you're flexible on the dates of your journey, research with a diversity of travel dates. It's amazing how radically prices can vary by changing your travel dates slightly. I've saved hundreds of dollars by flying on a Saturday as an alternative of a Friday. If you want to be totally thorough, check all seven week days.
After you've gotten a feel for the costs of your flight, go directly to the websites of the following airlines: Aerosvit (Ukraine's national airline); Aeroflot (Russia's national airline); LOT (Polish Airlines); and Wizzair (Hungarian). Depending on the time of year, and how far in advance you buy your ticket, $1200 might indeed be a fair deal. However, I traveled round trip between Kiev and New York's JFK in June of 2010 for $550 on Delta airlines. Although that's the best deal I've yet found, I frequently find similar tickets in the $700 range.
The second money-saving decision you can make ahead of time is regarding lodging. Yes, if you're loyal to staying in a hotel, then by all means use the same travel sites mentioned above and find the best deal you can. But the real choice I'm talking about is whether to stay in a hotel at all. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of nice hotels in the Ukraine, particularly in Kiev, Lvov, Odessa or Donetsk. But the good ones aren't near $100 per night. Think between $250 and $600 nightly. In the meantime, for $60-$100 or so per night in Kiev, you can rent a nice one-two-bedroom apartment. That's a savings of between $1000 and $2000 during the course of a typical seven to ten day stay.
I disagree that the best hotels are often perfectly located, right in the city center and steps away from the city's main square; most expensive hotels are. It's hard to compete with that, and if such a level of convenience is the most important factor for you, that's comprehensible. But if you don't mind being a three or five minute walk from the main street (within city center), then apartments provide a enormously more cheap option. In addition, an added economic advantage to renting an apartment is the capability to cook your own meals. In Kiev, for the price of one meal in an luxurious restaurant, you could instead stash your refrigerator for a week. The bottom line is that, whatever price you're willing to pay for accommodation, an apartment will give you twice the bang for half the buck.
If I've swayed you away from hotels and you're interested in finding an apartment in Kiev, search on KievApartmentRent.com . There you have it. Trail these two tips, and you'll save sufficient cash to get all the fur hats and black caviar you can stuff in your travel case. Safe travels!