I love to travel and I do a fair amount of it! I’m not exactly mega rich though so travelling cheaply is important to keep me able to keep doing it. So how do you do it?
Travelling throws you into new situations, often very unfamilialar and the want for some comfort ofte drags you into spending a lot of money. You may just want the easiest comfortable bed you can find or want a place where all amenities are right there. You may be afraid to step off the beaten path and stick to touristic spots. All of this behavior will cause you to spend more than you have to and in my opinion limit your experience.
The first part of travel is arranging the way to get to where you are going. This could be by plane, boat, car, train or bus. Maybe in rare occasions you may go by horse or camel but that is something I haven’t had to do yet! Booking travel is easy enough, you figure a date, you find an option and you buy a ticket. Or you work out a route, hire or use your own car and drive. It is easy to just pick the first option but you can often save a large bulk by being flexible. Set a series of dates and be prepared to travel at any time. Be prepared to go out of your way on odd stop overs and relish the fact that your cheaper ticket may even take you briefly to parts of the world you never thought you would end up in. Granted my 10 hours in Detroit airport wasn’t the most fun but it saved me at least a few hundred bucks over the direct flight! In another instance a most of the day stopover at Dusseldorf allowed me to see a city I may have never have gone to. You also need to check all outlets. If you find a flight or hire car on a site like Kayak, check Expedia, LastMinute and also the suppliers own website. Call their telephone numbers and see if the person to person approach allows you to get a better deal. Even go into high street branches of travel agents and see what they have available. I is easy to assume the cheapest option always comes from the internet.
People have different levels of what is acceptable when it comes to where to stay. Some need a home away from home, others say their home is wherever they lay their hat! Obviously things like camping or sleeping in shared hostel dorms or even on rooftops (Earl slept on a rooftop in Syria, hopefully we’ll see a day when we can all visit that beautiful country again) is the normally cheapest option but it many places a little more luxury can be gotten for a little more. You have to be willing to stay a little further out of town or to watch websites for great night rates. You may need to change hotel half way through your trip (which is often a nice thing to do). One great thing to do if you are the type who needs comfort is to do the first half of your trip in a cheaper hostel and then upgrade to a nicer hotel for the 2nd. That way when you have your beginning energy the hostel won’t bother you as much, at the end of the trip you’ll have the comfort. Personally I like to stay in my own hostel room when I can. HostelWorld.com is a great site for checking places out and seeing some real reviews.
We need to eat and drink and going into a hotel bar or a chain restaurant often feels like the easy option. McD’s is McD’s anywhere in the world! But you’ll miss out on a lot by not going local, even if within your own country. Ask some locals where you’ll find good food and a good deal. If you have kitchen options available then you can cook your own breakfasts and lunch and go out for dinner to save a good wad of cash. If you are going longer term then cooking all three meals at least 3 days a week could be a viable option. I find a lot of a places culture revolves around it’s food and where that food is eaten. If safe, never pass off an opportunity to eat with the locals and always try their recommendations (unless it seems like they are working off commission).
Avoiding getting ripped off
You need to be a little care free when traveling but let your guard down a little too much and you leave yourself option for an uppercut. Getting ripped off is a reality that happens to travellers far too often, even in so called civilised countries! Learn about where you are going and research the net to find out what common scams take place in what areas. Also don’t treat everyone as suspicious but do try and stay in areas with lots of people around. Someone taking you to their “friends” restaurant (working on commission) isn’t necessarily a rip off if you view it as part of the experience so when you do get lured into small things like that don’t kick yourself too hard. Getting robbed, being sold fake and bad quality goods or being put in any harm are the dangers you need to watch out for. Being aware will save you money.
When you arrive in a place you want to do all it has to offer. Glass boat dolphin spotting, parasailing, penguin adventures, Cathedral city tour, Walking a famous bridge etc etc etc. This is all amazing stuff and it would be great if we could do it all but think about the budget. Some things may have a cheaper alternative. You may be able to hire your own boat and go out to the dolphins, find your own city walking tour and written guide for cheap. Pick a few things that really matter to you and investigate cheaper options for the others. A lot of experience in places for me comes from treading the streets the locals do. A back street bar off the main tourist haunt may end up in a night of laughter like no other as the locals quiz and welcome you in! A chat with a fisherman may end up with you crewing for a morning and making friends with a local could have you on a day out with their friends. All of these kinds of interactions often lead to local priced experiences that beat out anything on a leaflet any day!
So that covers a few major area. The devil is always in the details though so what other essential tips do you have to add? Have you learned the hard way?
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Thanks for reading.