Yes, travel can be expensive, but there are lots of ways you can ease the pain! Here’s seven of my favourite ways to keep costs down while traveling.
7. Travel Like a Local
Public transit is highly underrated, most of the time. It’s a cheap and affordable way of exploring a destination, and also an opportunity to interact with locals and experience a slice of their way of life. I say most of the time, because there are always situations where you might feel safer taking a different mode of transportation, and it’s important to keep some money aside to do so. No point in putting yourself at risk just to save a few bucks!
6. Eat Like a Local
Skip the tourist-clogged restaurants and head for a local favourite. This is where chatting up some (friendly) strangers comes in handy, as you can find some great recommendations that will almost always be cheaper than the “westernized” places in town. You’ll find authentic food that’s easier on the wallet and also likely make some local friends in the process.
Another great option is a picnic – weather permitting, of course. I found Amsterdam to be pretty pricey, and I really didn’t want to pay 20 euros for breakfast. Instead, I picked up a small Greek yogurt, croissant and banana each morning and parked myself in a square to people watch. With the money I saved on breakfast I was able to check out the Van Gogh Museum AND have two Heinekens with dinner. Score!
5. Shop ‘Til You Drop (For Groceries)
Also similar to eating like a local – shop like one. If you can, seek out accommodations (whether hostel or hotel, or my personal favourite, renting an apartment) that have kitchen options so you can cook your own meals. Not only will it help to keep your waistline from growing, it will also keep your wallet a bit fatter, as eating out all the time gets real expensive, real fast. Check out a local market for fresh options that you can’t get at home!
4. Hunt Out Freebies
Many museums and galleries offer half-price or free nights – do some research in advance and figure out when these are. There are also numerous smaller museums that are free ALL the time (seriously!), and when you’re free to wander without worrying about how you will pay for dinner now, you might actually learn something.
Perhaps museums aren’t your thing, but you’d like a good introduction to the city you’re visiting? Seek out a free tour! I went on a few of these in various cities in Europe (Sandeman is particularly good) and they work on a tips-only basis. At the end of a few hours you’ve received a solid overview of the city and you choose how much you want to pay.
An easy way to search out cheaper options is to go where there are students. Students are cheap and thrifty folks by nature, so they will flock to options that suit this lifestyle. I found out about discounted show tickets and cheap bar nights thanks to hanging around in cafes near campuses.
Skype saved me (and continues to save me) buckets of money when travelling as I didn’t both with bringing a cell phone or purchasing pricey long distance cards. You can pay per minute or monthly and pick the countries that you’d like to call. Or, convince friends and family to download Skype if they haven’t already and chat for free online!
2. Max Out Your Reward Points
I have one of those fancy reward points cards. And I use it for 99% of my purchases to rack up points. Although I sometimes grumble about the annual fee, I have saved boatloads of money cashing in my points for flights and hotel rooms when I want a comfier, quieter stay. If you don’t have any rewards cards, investigate what works best for your needs and consider whether you can afford an annual fee to help speed up the collection.
1. Get a Debit Card That Works Internationally
Pay a visit to your bank and check that your card is connected to the Plus network. This saved me a ton of money while travelling as I was able to use local ATMs to withdraw money, versus paying enormous service charge and exchange rates at currency booths. Of course, it’s always important to carry emergency cash just in case you can’t find the ATM, but having a Plus card ensures that you don’t have to carry around wads of cash (dangerous) and you’re able to keep better track of what you’re spending money on.
How do you scrimp and save while traveling? Share some tips below!