While traveling for sure you want to conquest every corner and track but also you want to stay on track on your budget. You can only spend your hard earned money once right? So we’ve putted together some tips for you to get the best experience for a lower budget.
At the airport
When arriving at the place of your foreign destination you will be in need of foreign money as well. Big mistakes people make is to change the money at the airport exchange counters. You will just paying the biggest commissions possible. And hey… if they say it is without commission you just got a shitty exchange rate. They are there just for making money. Forget exchange counters and just use the ATM because this will be as close to the interbank change rate as it possibly will get. And if there is no other possibility than changing money just go to a normal bank outside the airport for better rates. So use bank cards when possible and preferable one that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. Also before leaving your country check with your bank that you will be able to withdraw money at ATM’s with your bankcard. At some countries you will need to activate your bankcard for use outside of your own country. No taking cash? Yes.. just some emergency money.
Duty Free shopping at airports? Well… It sounds promising. But just compare the prices you see with prices outside the airport and you’ll be surprised to see how many times it is more expensive then in a regular store with taxes. So.. consider buying things you need in a regular store and try to get a tax refund at the airport. This works for example very well at European Airports, at least when you live outside the European Union. In Japan this is done in the stores and not at the airports. So if you plan to buy something just check out the procedures first.
It sure is worth seeking for cheaper tickets at several different websites. Even the same flights at the same dates with the same departure time can sometimes have big differences on one or another ticket booking website. Don’t forget to check out promotions on the site of the charter company as well. Sometimes it is worth to take connecting flights instead of direct flights although it sounds absurd at first. Though… if you save just like a few bucks maybe just pay a little more and arrive less tired at place of destination. Also consider the date of travelling. There can be a big price difference in just flying a few days earlier or later. Weekends and holidays often are more expensive. When planning to take a one way trip, still check the price for a two way ticket. Sometimes, strange enough, they are cheaper.
After visiting a famous tourist spot you might be hungry and will be starting to look out for a nice restaurant to eat. But whatever you do. Don’t go to a restaurant directly at the tourist spot. You will pay more and most of the time get horrible food. In this kind of restaurants there will be no need to serve you the best food. Tourists will come anyway. And you will pay more for it. So get far away from these places and you will get better food for lower prices. And of course now-a-days a good help to find good and low budget restaurants can be found through trip-advisor. Also check the menu from the restaurant before entering. Are the prices included taxes and tips? Or do you have to add another 15 or maybe even 25% to your bill? Cheapest places to eat are most of the times the stalls at the streets but beware of the hygiene at these places. Being sick for a week for saving a few bucks isn’t worth the savings.
One of the highest expenses during traveling besides your airplane ticket will be the accommodation. Many people know the way to book hotels through websites like Expedia and Booking.com. Here you can search for the cheapest hotels on the locations you’d like to visit. But there other even more cheap ways to do so. It sometimes might be reward-able to contact the hotel to bargain for a price after checking out what the prices is at sites like booking.com and of course their own website. At sites like booking.com the hotels have to pay a fee, so sometimes a discount of 5 to 10% might be possible. It worked a couple of times for me.
Besides hotels there are hostels. Places very popular by backpackers. Here you find cheap lodging. Many of the hostels have dormitories. So you share your room with some or many other travelers. It is cheaper but you won’t have privacy and you should have no problem with other people snoring close by and the smell of many people in a many times bad ventilated room.
Another popular way to travel is through couch surfing. Local people all around the world open their homes for traveling people for free. And although the name is couch surfing it not necessarily means you will be sleeping on a couch in a strangers house. More than often you will have a bed in a room for yourself. So.. why people do these kind of things? Mainly the experience to get to know people from other cultures on a more personal way. Furthermore, your local hosts know the place he lives in like no other and can send you to the places to be besides the places visited by millions of other tourists. Sleeping at a strangers place can come with risks though. So always make sure that the person has a verified account, a recognizable profile picture and check-out the previews. Besides couch surfing there are some other websites with the same purpose like Hospitality Club and Stay4Free. For people who go by bike there is even a special community called warmshowers.org.
Another way to save money on accommodation is taking a night-bus or night-train. If you have to travel long distances and you are able to sleep at a bus or train. Just take one of these options. You will have more time at the place of destination to enjoy the place and you don’t need to pay extra for lodging.
Hitchhiking is one of the oldest ways to go from one place to another. You never know how long it will take you to get from one place to another and how long it will take to be taken with you to another place and also safety will be a big issue. Just check out the websites like blablacar.com and carpooling.com. People offer a seat in their car for a fair price so you can join them to go from one place to another.
Visit the local tourist information
First thing to do while arriving at a new destination is to visit the local tourist information. Most of the times they have tourist maps of the area. Don’t forget to ask if there are any special activities during your stay like fairs or festivals. And for sure never forget to ask if there are any discount options available. Do the same thing at the hotel. Ask for discount options and look if there are any flyers around that can offer discounts.
Of course when traveling you would want to stay in contact with your family and friends. Though using internet or calling from one country to another could be an expensive experience and an unpleasant surprise afterwards. Many hotels, restaurants and places like Starbucks and McDonald's offer free WI-F. Also in many countries you can find free WI-Fi hot-spots on central plazas and squares. Finding free WI-F hotspots can be done with a free WI-Fi hotspot app that you can download on your phone. Once you have free access you can stay in contact or give calls through programs like Whatsapp, Messenger, Skype and Viber for free. Another option is to get a local pre-paid sim card that also offers access to internet. It will be cheaper to access internet then with your own sim card. Local pre-paid sim cards can be purchased at most airports and at the bigger local phone stores.
At many places, especially local markets it is possible to bargain. Sometimes it even is seen as a game and you should start bargaining. Though… there is a difference between bargaining and squeezing the last penny out of something. First of all the price is worth wat you think is fair paying for it. If the person selling your target absolutely doesn’t want to sell for the price you are willing to pay you can say for sure the price is too low. And don’t try to squeeze out the lowest price at the local sellers. If you go to a McDonald's or other huge multinational you don’t even think about bargaining about a price and you just pay your 2$ for a cup of coca cola. So don’t squeeze out the last penny out of the coconut you try to buy from a local salesman that can barely survive and pay the needs for his family. Bargain, but bargain with sense.
Don’t be too cheap
Although you can spend your money only once. Don’t be too cheap. You probably visit a place also only once so just know where to spend the money on. See the things that makes a place special even though it might sometimes costs money or sometimes even might seem to cost much money. Also when doing for example an adventurous tour it doesn’t mean the cheapest also is the best. How long will a tour take? How good and safe is the equipment used? And is the company you are going on tour with insured or not?
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