Don’t laugh, because it is true. There are several ways to travel cheaply. Think of the fun you will have travelling to other countries at the fraction of what it would normally cost to have an overseas vacation. What you need are some insider knowledge on how to do it and boy, do I have some fab tips for you! Read on.
1. Forget hotels and stay in the cosier and more homely bed-and-breakfasts. Most countries have these and they are less expensive and more charming. Since you’d be out most of the day checking out the sights, then staying in a B&B is very ideal.
2. Eat where the locals do. If you are in a country that is known for its cuisine, it does not matter if you do not eat in a touristy-restaurant. Most of the best local food fares are available in small eateries. You’ll find that places where taxi drivers and locals flock for their meals will have the best-tasting dishes.
3. If your destination is in Europe, plan your trip during the off-season, from April to October. Not only will the airfare be cheaper, there will be plenty of budget rooms to choose from and queues for something will be shorter. You also meet more Europeans rather than tourists. Major European cities like Rome, Paris and London, for example have a lot to offer whatever time of the year you visit.
4. Buy stuff from mom-and-pop shops where prices are lower and you get served better. Stock your hotel room with snacks and drinks. Bring picnic meals with you if you are travelling by train.
5. When in Europe, eat the food that is in season. You’ll be able to have the best taste (and freshest) of the food in season for less.
6. Forget about travelers checks and use an ATM, even if there is a small transaction fee for each withdrawal. You still save as the currency exchange rate is the best possible rate available. You can also save on transaction fees if you make bigger and lesser withdrawals, as long as you keep your money safe.
7. Instead of using the roaming service for your mobile phone, use a local phone. There are countries where you can rent a phone at the airport. Or buy an international phone card with PIN number that will allow you to make direct calls rather than use a phone service. You can likewise save by sending and receiving text messages, which for most phone services, are free of charge.
8. Board a second-class train when in Europe. The price difference between a first-class and second-class train is huge, whereas the difference in the comfort factor is minimal. The train will also get you to your destination in the same way, even if you do not travel first-class. Likewise, if trains are expensive, such as in London, opt for the slower bus. Not only will you save more, you also get to see more of the countryside.
9. Shop for souvenirs in countries where items are much cheaper.
10. Find out if you have relatives or friends in the country you are headed to. Check this in advance and see if you can stay with them for one to two days, which can already give you more savings in room and board. It will earn you more brownie points if you bring them something they miss from home as a present.
11. It is all right if you do not rack up on frequent flier miles if you will get bigger savings from consolidator tickets for overseas flights. There might be some drawbacks such as no flight changes and no frequent miles issued, but the savings can be worth hundreds of dollars. Also check out student fares, as these are lower. Likewise, choose your hotel and your flight ticket based on the best value you can get rather than on the frequent miles being offered.
12. Limit the use of your credit card and pay in cash. Some of the best deals you are likely to get when touring are only available when you use cash rather than credit card. Only have your cash exchanged to the local currency from exchange bureaus that display both the selling and buying rates. It will help if you can check the current exchange rate online or in the local papers.
13. Wear and use a money belt so your cash is secure. Have some loose change and smaller bills in your pocket to pay for small items rather than paying with a larger bill. Small shops and street side stalls do not have that much change. If you carry a purse or bag, make sure the shoulder strap is sturdy and keep your bag close to your body at all times.
14. Learn to compute in the local currency and have all bills itemized. Do not be in a hurry to leave a restaurant, for example, that you will rush through your payment. Expect that you will be charged extra for being a tourist and check all bills.
15. Do your shopping for souvenirs at department stores, which normally have coffee shops and food courts. Have your meal there and save.
16. If you are shopping at flea markets, remember that prices are not fixed. Learn to haggle for the best prices.
17. Invest in a guidebook and buy maps locally. They will not only be cheaper but you get more choices.
18. Instead of buying postcards, take pictures of the beautiful sceneries yourself. Local libraries, hotels and hostels usually provide free Internet access, so you can send the photographs to people back home.
19. Travel with a friend or partner to share the costs. The cost of a double room is almost the same as the cost of a single one. Taxi fares, picnics and guidebooks cost cheaper as you can split the cost. Even chores can be done faster.
20. Find and use budget airlines and airfares. You get to distant cities with no-frills flights but the savings can be enormous. If you travel frequently or you have planned to see as many cities as you can in one country during your vacation, flying with budget airlines is the best option.