Save at your Destination
The first and biggest saving tip I can give you is try to avoid taxis where possible, instead use public transport.
When you arrive at your hotel or hostel make sure you ask about where you are located, where most of the sites and attractions are located in relation to where you are and whether or not any of these are within walking distance.
Find out also if the hotel has a shuttle to the city centre or other locations such as the beach or other sites. Most hotels just outside the city centre will provide these for free, so why take a taxi when this service is available. Some of these shuttle services may have a small charge but they would hardly ever amount to the cost of a taxi.
If your accommodation does not provide a cheap or free shuttle bus then make sure you ask about the local transport. Find out what is cheapest and closest to you.
Another way to save on transport is to find out whether or not the country uses pre-paid top-up type cards for the trains and buses.
In London for example they have something called the ‘Oyster Card’. There is a deposit you need to pay for the card which you can get back when you hand the card back. But once paid you just top up your card and tap it as you go through the gates.
This Oyster Card has a small savings on each and every trip so does add up at the end of the week, month or year that you spend there. This will help especially if you are travelling between multiple attractions throughout the day that requires a lot of transport between them.
I like to walk a lot when I’m at a destination. So I suggest finding out how far sites and attractions are from your accommodation. In Rome, for example, I found that almost all the attractive were relatively close and was possible to walk with the exception of the Vatican.
The Colosseum is right next to the Roman Forum, 2-3 mins up the hill is Palatine Hill From there it is only a short 5 minute walk to Campo di Fiori and another 5 or so minutes to the Trevi Fountain from there.
I was surprised at how many of the tourists would catch buses between these places or the metro. I just walked everywhere… it was only 5 minutes to the next site anyway.
Along the way I would see great architecture, find beautiful parks or chapels to visit and all around just take photos of anything and everything I found along the way.
The best things in life are free or so they say and just by walking around and exploring the city, culture and natural beauty I was able to see the best that the culture had to offer.
In actual fact, this is also a good way to find out what’s going on in and around the city. While walking around you will most likely see pubs and clubs which might have free music or entertainment of some sort.
That’s another thing you should ask your accommodation… what free stuff is around? Each year almost every city has some kind of festival on as well as free entertainment found in pubs and clubs so do find out where these are and what days they are on.
Something you may not have thought that could be free is places like museums or galleries. London for example has a free Science Museum, free art galleries and the like.
Even the British History Museum is free and this place is awesome. I spent a good few hours exploring this museum which had relics and artefacts from all sorts of cultures including ancient Egypt, China, Roman and Greek.
Even in Paris, we were able to get into one of the art galleries for free… not the Louvre of course but the Gallery of Modern Art.
Some cities even have free walking tours that explore the city. One such place is Berlin.
The free walking tour in Berlin gives you all the information on local history, the war and Hitler. On this tour we visited the Holocaust Memorial, Charlie’s Check-point and the site of Hitler’s Bunker among other places.
Look around and make sure you ask what free stuff there is to do and you will be sure to find something of interest to you.
If you intend to use your mobile phone overseas then the best tip I can give you is to not get global roaming.
Global roaming is very expensive and if you are using a smart phone it will constantly be chewing up your data.
Each time you receive a message or a phone call, even though you hadn’t initiated the call or message, you still pay for it. It cost you to receive and send by double the price. Using your smart phone will cost more than this and isn’t such a smart idea after all.
Your best bet is to pick up a prepaid sim card or calling card when you arrive. Most of the airports will be selling these and you can just get a small amount like $10, $20 or $30.
Another travel saving tip that usually gets overlooked while travelling has to do with eating and drinking out all the time.
While at your destination, no doubt you will want to wine and dine, tasting local cuisines, wines, beers and some kinds of local spirits known to that region and this is fine. After all you want to enjoy your holiday.
Does your accommodation include breakfast? Yes you may want to sleep in but by eating breakfast it may help stop you from splurging out on some expensive snack for morning tea, usually at least the accommodation would have coffee and tea facilities.
Take advantage of this and get what you can for free or what’s already included in your price.
Something else I like to do at different destinations is to find a nice park or other beautiful setting. Maybe by a river or in the bushlands, basically anywhere that is nice to have a picnic.
It’s still experiencing part of that particular culture even though you are going to a restaurant and I personally believe taking in nature is quite important for the soul.
For the picnic, visit the local supermarket, not convenience shops and buy some bread rolls and fillings. This will be a lot cheaper than going to a restaurant and spending $30 to $50 on food. Plus you then get the free view and experience nature in the park or setting of your choice.
If you must go to a restaurant avoid the touristy areas as much as possible. At least do not go there for food each and every day. You should want to get out and experience the food that the locals enjoy rather than what the tourist go for.
The tourist areas know when the majority of tourists are coming and who these travellers are. Meaning they will increase the price for these seasons or over-charge you for not knowing any better.
Everyone wants more money these days and will try anything to get the most cash out of you. Many business operators will see the tourist as dollar signs rather than customers, giving you a high price but then when the locals arrive they get a cheaper price.
This was extremely evident in Vanuatu, where the cruise ships bring in a lot of money for the community and a lot of people who are there only for the day. Their economy virtually relies on this and so they take advantage.
When we were at the markets in Port Vila, Vanuatu which close by to port, the merchants even asked us if we were from the ship, I soon discovered this was not just to make idle chit chat, this was actually to gauge the price they were going to charge.
When we told them where we were staying, which was hotel nearby and how long we were there for, the merchants slashed the prices for us.
The best thing to do when going to any sort of merchant including eateries of all sorts is to go with a local or try speaking their language. This will make them see you as local or at least from that region of the world making them less likely to rip you off.
These are just a few tips, but remember to look out for free entertainment, art galleries, museums and parks.
Try buying your lunch every now and then from the supermarket and take a picnic as one of your leisure days instead of sitting in a touristy restaurant paying a fortune.
Do what the locals do and you will find savings everywhere.