Traveling is one of the most exciting things you can do. Paying for it, however, can be the exact opposite. Thankfully with some careful planning and an open mind, you can still have an awesome trip without busting your budget. And take it from an experienced globetrotter: the reward of experiencing different cultures is well worth the investment.
To make your dream trip a reality, check out these ten money-saving tips:
1. Save big by skipping the hotel.
Lodging is often the priciest part of travel. Yet most of us immediately gravitate to overpriced hotels. However, there are plenty of cheaper ways to put a roof over your head – without sacrificing quality. If you’re traveling alone, hostels are a wonderful (and cost-effective) alternative. Even better, you can easily meet travel buddies! Check out sites like Hostel World to research your options. If you’re in a group, Airbnb allows you to rent out houses and apartments on the cheap.
2. Negotiate your way to better prices.
In the U.S., negotiating on purchases isn’t a big part of our culture. In other countries, however, it’s quite prevalent (and sometimes expected). From food to souvenirs, you’ll find some wiggle room by bargaining. And you don’t have to be a shrewd negotiator, simply ask: “Is that your friendliest price?” Also, don’t be afraid to walk away if the end price isn’t ideal. You can probably find that key chain cheaper elsewhere.
3. Don’t skimp on the important stuff.
Remember, you’re investing in a great experience. So, don’t skimp on a purchase if it will significantly impact your happiness. Walking shoes, for instance, can make or break your trip. If you walk ten-plus miles a day like I do, spending an extra $50 is well worth it. This philosophy also applies to transport. While it might seem smart to take the cheapest route, time is money. And when you have limited time to travel, every hour is valuable.
4. Passes are your ticket to cheap transport.
While we’re on the topic of transport, rail passes allow you to make unlimited train trips abroad, and they can significantly shave expenses. This is especially true with the E.U., where access to 28 countries are linked with one Rail Europe pass. Take the time to do the math; you’ll often find that passes offer big savings over one-off tickets.
5. Your student ID is your new best friend.
If you’re in school, there’s a plethora of additional money-saving methods. Big-time expenses like airfare are often eligible for steep discounts. Many museums and other attractions offer student discounts or even free admission, so it never hurts to ask.
6. Take the road less traveled.
Most tourists flock to A-list attractions. As a result, prices in those areas are inflated, and they get extremely crowded. You can skip the line and save some cash by checking out alternative spots that are often even more majestic. The whole point of traveling is to experience the exotic, so don’t be afraid to venture into the unknown.
7. Avoid pesky phone fees.
Nowadays, phones are a necessity rather than an option. Paying roaming charges and other fees, however, can quickly eat away at your funds. To avoid this, get data on the low by buying another prepaid SIM card at your destination. In Europe, you can even buy ones that cover all its countries.
8. You don’t need the “best” tour guide.
It might seem smart to go for prestigious and heavily-experienced tour guides. Don’t ignore student/younger tour guides. They’re usually cheaper and more fun!
As a bonus, someone in your demographic will also point out cool things that fit your age range (like a must-stay hostel). They’ll also probably avoid going into excruciating detail about the scenery (I’ve almost fallen asleep with some agonizing ones).
9. Back up your money.
You never want to be stuck abroad without money, and things can go awry when you least expect it. That’s why you want to diversify your access to funds. Consider bringing both a credit and debit card, and always make sure you have some cash on hand in case you can’t use plastic.
Also, be sure to ask your bank about overseas transaction and currency fees.
10. Most importantly…
For some parting wisdom, always remember to pack a good attitude. You will hit some road bumps abroad, especially if you’re traveling on the cheap. It’s all part of the experience. Getting lost might become your best memory.