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The 5 Most Common Reasons Tourists to Greece Fail (and How to Get the Most Out of a Trip to Greece)

from Trey Ratcliff at
When I meet fellow travellers for a beer in other European countries and tell them that Greece is the perfect budget travel destination in Europe, many people don’t believe me. Most of them assume that because it is in the eurozone, it must be expensive. The truth is Greece was cheap before the crisis and now it’s even cheaper! (I’ll show you what I mean below).
Having worked in the tourist industry and having been a long term traveller since January 2009, I’ve seen and experienced the most common and sometimes tragic mistakes travellers to Greece make.
The most common mistake involves overspending on things they don’t need to, which means that their money runs out faster than they would like and they can’t experience as much of Greece as they otherwise would (and I made many of these mistake  myself in the beginning!).
Follow these tips to make sure your hard earned money doesn’t go down the drain and you get the most out of a trip to Greece.
1) They don’t know how to find cheap flights 
The most common mistake people make  is the one that costs them the most – the expense of an international airline ticket.
There are two aspects here, one is booking through a travel agent and the other is using a website to book that isn’t as cheap as one might think.
Everyone with Greek parents knows someone who knows a “good travel agent”  i.e. theio Maki’s brother’s half uncle’s adopted grandson. You know, the one who found theia Soula a good ticket from Australia to Greece last year.While it’s nice to have a well meaning relative recommend a trustworthy travel agent, sometimes it is not in your financial interest. The reason is, travel agents take a commission from each ticket they sell and usually, the commission they take is much higher than an automated flight search engine you access via a website.
The other common mistake travelers make is to use a flight search engine without comparing their level of commission to other search engines. Some flight search engines (particularly the well known ones) take very big commissions, whilst others take as low as 0.10 cent commissions on each flight sold. The higher their commission the more you will pay for your ticket.
I have compared many different flight search engines including but not limited to –  Kayak, Expedia,  Flight Centre and others. They have always, without exception come out and continue to come out as more expensive than my favourite search engine – Skyscanner. Either by a small margin or a large one.
Let’s take this example:
I have requested a return flight from Melbourne to Athens for exactly 1 month from now (peak season), staying for one month before returning home (you can try any date in the future I am just using 1 month from now as an example).
My results have come back as follows:
Flight Center $2049.85
Skyscanner $1816
A kind of shocking difference right? Whatever happened to their lowest price guarantee?
If you don’t believe me, I recommend you try it for yourself now. I have found the same to be the case for domestic flights within Greece. I recommend you compare all quotes to other search engines but especially Skyscanner, every time.
2) They book accommodation from websites with big commissions.
Similar to the point above, the most popular booking sites tend to charge high commissions to the hotels. This often means that the commission is passed on to you by the hotel. Let’s compare hotels on Santorini using one of the most popular hotel search engines ( to a less well known hotel search engine (
There’s a huge variety on both sites depending on what budget you are on, but for the sake of this example, let’s compare the cheapest that both have to offer for July 17.
When arranged by price (lowest to highest): US$34 per night US$17.88
When you are very popular and hold a lot of the Internet’s eye balls, you can charge higher commissions and that seems to be exactly what and do quiet often.
Also worthy of noting is the fact that the one on Hostelbookers has a great approval rating (as determined by paying guests) of 87%. It’s not as much of a saving as Skyscanner can give you on your flights, but it all adds up – especially if you are travelling long term.
( Note that Hostelbookers, despite the name, does not just show hostels, but hotels also – and the price comparison I’m showing above is for hotels not hostels.)
By the way are you enjoying this article? Don’t miss out on the free ebook on the world’s best travel bargains that will launch in 2015. Get on the waiting list and get your complimentary copy!
3) They base their research on guidebooks
I know guidebooks are quite popular for getting people excited about destinations, but I can’t tell you the amount of times I have tried to find something listed in a guidebook, and realise it doesn’t actually exist! The reason why sometimes there are false things written in guide books is because the writers are often not paid enough by the publisher to properly see a place and sometimes rely on word of mouth.
Here is an extract from The Guardian newspaper on the issue:

A former Lonely Planet travel writer who provoked controversy
after he admitted he did not always visit the places he reviewed…

So if guidebooks are not reliable, and most travel agents have never been to the places they are selling tickets to, what can a traveller do?
Rely on other experienced travellers.
There are great websites out there which are constantly being updated by fellow travellers with amazing information you won’t find in any guidebooks. My favourite is Wikitravel. Wikitravel is the Wikipedia of travel. That means that it is constantly updated with relevant information for any and every location around the world. You won’t find such fresh, relevant information in any Lonely Planet guidebook in my opinion and experience.
By the way are you enjoying this article? Don’t miss out on the free ebook on the world’s best travel bargains that will launch in 2015. Get on the waiting list and get your complimentary copy!
4) Trying to get around Athens by  taxi / hired car (and may enrage you)
Whilst getting a taxi in many countries is generally not a good idea for tourists, in Athens their behaviour is beyond a joke (on the islands they are generally much nicer). Greek Taxi drivers have a kind of system which to even the well travelled foreigner seems peculiar to say the least.
When you get into a taxi in Athens, you can expect that along the way, the driver will stop and pick up other passengers at will. Not only do they not ask you, but they can choose to pick up a passenger (or more than one if they feel like it) if the new passenger’s destination is “close” to where you are going!
So not only does a trip that would normally take you 20 minutes end up taking 40 minutes or more, but there is no discount to you or any of the other passengers. you all pay what the meter says! I know we complain about taxi drivers in Melbourne sometimes, but we don’t put up with anything like this!
The other mistake in terms of transit tourists sometimes make is renting a car. On the best of days, Greece’s public servants have turned the country into a mess, so you can imagine that the planning of roads and highways are not exactly a pleasure to drive on (Athens’ traffic jams are infamous).
The only real, viable option for getting around Athens is to use the metro system. Thankfully it is beautiful, relatively new and very well planned and operated.
5) Getting stuck in the tourist traps
Greece has so many gems, so many beautiful things to explore, you could spend an entire lifetime and never see them all. And whilst the most common tourist traps are amazing in themselves, it would be a shame to visit Greece and miss out on the not so well known beauties:
a) The Island of Ikaria
This is so far my favourite island in Greece. Not so well known to tourists (which means the added benefit of being quieter during peak season), Ikaria is really something special and unique. Known worldwide as being 1 of 3 unique islands where the people live longer than anywhere else (the other 2 being in Italy and Japan)  due to the natural radiation on the island, you will also notice the unique friendliness and warmth of the people.
The slow, unshakably relaxed pace of life on the island beautifully compliments the amazing festivals that have continued since pagan times (the Orthodox Church now calls them “Christian” festivals but their routes are from the Greek Gods). If you make it there I really recommend visiting the hidden beach of Nas on the island (if you can rent a room from Kosta there, even better). The beach is not just beautiful, but often quiet.
By the way are you enjoying this article? Don’t miss out on the free ebook on the world’s best travel bargains that will launch in 2015. Get on the waiting list and get your complimentary copy!
b) Balos Bay, Crete
Whilst Crete is very popular amongst tourists, Balos Bay is one of the rare and beautiful hidden beaches that most tourists are unaware of due to it not being connected to main towns or roads.
c) The Micro Isle of Gavdos
The most southern Greek Isle, this tiny isle of 100 people, is as quiet and as secluded as it gets. If you’ve ever dreamed of a pristine, private island paradise, this is your answer. You can reach it from it’s nearest neighbour, Crete.

To Travel Is To Live
Ilias left his home in Australia in 2009 and has been travelling and living abroad ever since. Along with some friends, he writes a budget travel blog Backpacking on the cheap. Since 2009 he has been showing people how to quit their job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love and never return.  Here’s how >>
Images are thanks to the following artists in respective order Stuck in CustomsJean Spector, Shelby PDXhozinja, bleu celt

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