This week’s blog comes from Bruno, a digital geek born in the Azores islands who’s traveling money-smart around the world. He’s got some great value-for-money tips and insider advice to help you become a bit more thrifty on your travels! Here’s Bruno’s 15 smart ways to help lower your travel costs:
One of the biggest myths out there is that you need to be rich to travel. However, there are some very simple travel tips that can help you travel on a tight budget. That’s right. You don’t need to be rich to travel.
Let’s repeat that.
You do not need to be rich to travel.
Below are 15 of the smartest ways to lower your travel costs without compromising your travel experience. Actually, many of them enable you to meet new people and indulge in local culture which makes your trip that little bit more interesting!
1. LOOK OUT FOR “FREE” DAYS
Such a simple tip and yet so overlooked, especially if you are a culture or art lover. Museums and other tourist sights often have free days or discounted days. Before your departure, make sure you look on their website for this info. In Barcelona for instance almost of all of the major museums are free on Sundays after 3pm. And the Vatican Museums in Rome have free admission on the last Sunday of the month – arrive there early though!
2. SLEEP WHILE TRAVELING
3. LIAISE DIRECTLY WITH HOTELS
Sometimes the best way is to go back to basics. Contact the hotel, hostel or guesthouse and ask about rates on their rooms. You might get surprised with special deals that are not ANYWHERE online.
4. AVOID HAVING DINNER OUT
No, you don’t need to starve. It’s just that restaurants have their best deals at lunch time and often raise prices during the evening. There is a reason why lunch special menus are so popular. You can eat the same (or sometimes more) for a fraction of the cost you’d pay during the evening!
5. GIVE STREET FOOD MORE PRAISE
There is a huge prejudice against street food but most of the time it’s not well-founded. If you go for the busiest stalls, street food can be fresh, delicious and cheap against all odds. It gets even better, you can actually see what’s being cooked right in front of you – less risk of food poisoning!
6. LEARN THE ART OF HAGGLING
Obviously don’t expect to do this in Paris or London, but if you master the art of haggling in some countries, it can be a huge money-saver. Aim for at least 50% of the initial price.
7. TRAVEL OFF-PEAK
Another one very underrated tip is traveling off-peak. Flight prices in high summer season can be double compared to off -peak dates, not to mention the combined price of accommodation, restaurants and guided tours which will likely be inflated too!
Try to time your trip on shoulder season such as Feb-May and Sep-Nov when prices are lower, weather is still good, crowds haven’t reached the annoying level.
8. LEARN HOW TO FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS ONLINE
Most of it has to do with the right timings. Avoid flying on Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the prices are inflated with a weekend surcharge. Start checking flight prices for your trip as early as possible – the earlier the better! You can book a ticket as early as 11 months in advance.
9. EXPLORE MARKETS
Something I always incorporate into my itineraries when I go abroad is exploring local markets. They are not only a great place to take a pulse on the energy of your destination, but also the perfect spot to find crazy deals for clothes, souvenirs and authentic local food.
10. TRY MYSTERY HOTEL ROOMS
Secret or mystery hotel rooms are unsold medium-to-luxury hotel rooms being offered at a reduced price – with prices usually 20 to 50% off. Hotels use these as an alternative way to get some money for the rooms left empty.
The only catch is that you don’t know which hotel you are booking – there are only vague filters you can search online (e.g. WiFi, breakfast, district). Definitely worth a try especially in small cities where location is not that important.
11. RENT A BIKE
Biking is a great way of getting around and keeping yourself active at the same time. It’s definitely my favorite way to move. Not all destinations are suited for bike exploration, but you can easily explore a city or town for less than 10USD a day in Europe and less than 3USD a day in Asia.
12. TRY A FREE WALKING TOUR
Free walking tours are now everywhere in Europe, even in the tiniest villages and towns. It’s a great way to get to know the place, through the eyes of a local. I always think it’s a good idea to go on one at the beginning of a trip to get a grasp of the culture and overall vibe of your destination from the get go.
And saying they are poor in quality is a myth. Every single one I’ve been on has been great, especially my latest one in Rio de Janeiro, I was impressed with the amount of information and level of detail.
13. LAND A JOB ABROAD
If you desire to keep traveling for quite some time, landing a temporary job is a great way to fund your next adventures. Not only that, you’ll make loads of mates and get great experience for your CV.
Some of the most popular short-term jobs don’t even require a fancy background or loads of experience: you can be a lifeguard, ski resort worker, bartender or work in a hostel. Be creative!
14. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR EXPENSES
This is key. Take note of your expenses abroad in a notebook, a memo on your phone or in an app. I do this once a day, when arriving the hotel at night. Yes, sometimes it’s utterly boring, but it creates a sense of self-awareness on what you’re spending which can be extremely helpful . After all, it’s way easier to keep on budget if you visualize where your money is going, right?
15. REALIZE EXCHANGE RATES CAN BE A BUDGET KILLER
When you’re abroad, use the rule of 3: always check three places before exchanging money to get the best deal. Usually airports and withdrawing money directly from ATMs are a bad choice.
You should try to take a good amount of money at a good rate even before the departure – this helps budget your total spend right from the start!