When travelling, it’s very easy to spend too much money. But there are certain things which can ease the financial pressure.
For starters, when visiting a foreign country, become familiar with the currency exchange. Making rough estimates when converting a currency can really add up. Before leaving, it’s advisable to print out the exchange rates on paper to keep in your wallet; a good site for this is Oanda. Alternatively, browsing your phone’s app store should allow you to download a currency converter. Using a Cash Passport at an ATM charges less than using a conventional bankcard abroad and also protects against fraud; visit Cash Passport for more details.
Hostels are a fantastic option for budget travellers. Some offer dormitory accommodation, much of which is same-sex and incredibly cheap. But many hostels offer private rooms which are just as good as conventional hotel rooms for a fraction of the price. Careful searching of, Hostelworld, Hostel Bookers, and Hosteling International Hostels can produce really good bargains. Hostels are often friendlier than hotels and private rooms don’t usually require a single supplement, so they’re a great choice for solo travellers.
Many people swear by Couch Surfing. This offers an opportunity to stay in someone’s house for free; in return, the host gets to meet new people from across the world. Some travelers do a home exchange with other people from across the world – Googling “home exchange” will produce several websites which offer this. Another option is to organize a home stay with a local family which often saves money and gives people a friendly environment to stay in. Staying with friends, relatives and camping are cheap options. Perhaps consider sharing a twin or double hotel room with a friend.
Working or volunteering abroad offers a cheap way to travel and is often a lot of fun. Workaway, Peace Corps, WWOO and UNA Exchange are websites that organize schemes. There are many good volunteering opportunities to be found on the internet, but be careful when handing over money as fake charities and overpriced schemes are common and swindle many well meaning, trusting people.
Booking travel tickets and hotel reservations early is also prudent. For instance, take advantage of late deals and travelling at off peak times to cut prices. Many airlines, hotel chains and other travel providers offer club membership that gives discounts for returning customers; check out the company’s website to see what’s available. Visit Interrail.eu for cheap rail travel throughout Europe.
There are also many online price comparison sites that can help find the cheapest flights and rooms. Edreams and Skyscanner are good for cheap flights and Trivago searches many hotel room providers at once.
Lots of hotels aren’t listed on comparison sites or listed with a travel agent. Hardened travelers often don’t book their accommodation in advance. Instead, on arrival at their destination and they go from door to door in a tourist district to find available rooms and negotiate a price with the owner. This can be a gamble and take a lot of energy, but can really save money.
Be prepared to haggle and bargain. In some countries, this is the norm when shopping. But frequently, tourists get charged far more than locals for the same products and services. So ask around to find out how much locals pay for things and be prepared to bargain in a polite but firm manner.
Tourist food is often more expensive than local cuisine. Of course, it’s good to be mindful of food hygiene, but asking around will probably get you food which is much cheaper than tourist restaurants. It’s also a good chance to have an authentic experience and live like the locals. Alternating some meals with a pack lunch can cut costs. If your hotel has a breakfast buffet, save some food for lunch!
Some destinations are cheaper than others. Asian and South American countries are often less expensive than more traditional holiday destinations. In Europe, countries such as Greece and Turkey are often affordable places. Never skimp on travel insurance, getting sick or having an accident in another country is very common and can cost a fortune without the right cover.
Also, don’t rely too much on famous tourist guide books. It makes sense to use these sometimes, but there are many good hotels, restaurants and tour guides that are cheaper and just as good, if not better, than those listed in books. Shopping around won’t just give you a good deal, but also give a deserving business owner a much needed break.