Money-Smart Travel: Cutting Costs, Not Pleasure
One of the best things about a vacation is taking your mind off mundane, day-to-day concerns and responsibilities, and focusing on pleasure. Trips are the time to live it up! If you put a little effort into making your money stretch farther on your getaway, you can have just as much fun and save enough to take additional excursions each year.
While travel might be just about the last thing on your mind right now, getting a head start on incorporating a few of these tips into your travel toolbox can help you fully relax once it’s time to cast all your worries aside and head out the door.
As you research your trip, you’ll inevitably come across those “10 must-see attractions” lists for your destination. But dig a little deeper and read some reviews. What kind of experiences do visitors have at these spots? If you can remove a few overhyped stops, you’ll save on entrance fees and transportation and get to do more of what you’re there to do: Relax and enjoy yourself!
The offseason is on target
Speaking of enjoying yourself, if you can travel during the slow season, you’ll find better deals on almost everything and likely enjoy a better experience overall.
Trains and buses may offer significant savings over flights if you’re venturing between multiple destinations during your trip. But if you can take an overnight trip on a train or bus and sleep on the way, that’s also a night you don’t have to pay for a hotel. Cha-ching!
Be the chef you wish to see in the world
Local markets are a fun and delicious way to engage with an unfamiliar society or culture. By shopping locally for ingredients and trying to make regional dishes, you can immerse yourself more deeply in the local food culture than you thought possible.
Put on your walking shoes
If you can, consider walking between as many attractions as possible. If you want to soak up the “feel” of a place, your best experience may be on foot. Many visitors to Paris, for example, find far more charm in walking neighborhoods like Montmarte or The Marais than standing in line at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. It may not be what you’re “supposed” to do, but give it a try.
Travel like a local
Public transportation provides excellent opportunities for people watching and getting to know “the locals.” You may get lucky and discover some great hidden local attractions. You’ll also likely save big over taking a taxi or Uber.
Some of the best things (and places) are free
Think for a moment about the area where you live. Where would you recommend visitors go to get a feel for what it’s like? Chances are several places on your list don’t cost anything, like parks, quirky local curiosities, or beautiful architectural sites. The location you’re headed to may also have the same types of sublime free experiences. Look for them online when you’re building your itinerary.
Avoid eating out of your guidebook
Restaurant owners know they can charge more if their eatery is featured in guidebooks or has a fancy reputation. To get excellent local food for less, ask for recommendations from the staff at your hotel or the owners of your homestay. It can help to ask where they like to eat instead of asking where they think you should eat.
Join the light luggage club
If you’ve flown in the past few years, you’ve probably already experienced extra charges because of your luggage weight. A commitment to traveling light can save you at the airport and at the souvenir stands when you’re saying no to knick-knacks. Your arms, shoulders, and back will thank you as well.
Wash and wear
Travel frequently? If so, it can help to invest in mix-and-match clothes you can wash in the sink and hang overnight to dry. Not only does this approach help you travel light, but you also won’t be as tempted to buy new clothes at your destination because you ran out of garments to wear.
Go big for lunch
If there’s a one-of-a-kind restaurant you can’t skip, consider eating a midday meal there since lunches are less expensive than evening meals.
Take stock of exchanges
If you’re a seasoned overseas traveler, you know those convenient stalls in many international airports offer you the chance to trade your dollars for the local currency quickly. But, unfortunately, it’s unlikely you will get the best exchange rate there. So research the local means of exchange ahead of time, providing the best bang for your buck. Often, ATMs are your top bet.
Fly like an eagle—a really frugal one
- Book your flight as early as possible
- Jump on great deals; they may not be there later
- Try to have flexibility with your travel days
- If possible, book your flight on a Tuesday morning
App-ly some big phone savings
Several apps let you make international phone calls or texts for little or no cost. Doing some homework to find the one that best suits you can make a big difference in your trip’s price tag.
No one wants to spend their whole vacation thinking about saving money. But by working these tips into your travel plans early, you can keep more money in your travel savings account and not feel like you’re sacrificing anything.