You’ve saved up, found the cheapest one-way ticket scouring the internet could muster, and packed light. Now you need to make sure you can see as much as you can- and still have enough money left to get home. Here’s some tips and tricks for seeing the world without breaking the bank.
(1) Eat smart
Self-cater whenever possible. Foreign grocery stores and market places can be an amazing part of the adventure, and they still have local flavor, whether you’re picking up couscous and dates in a Moroccan market or spanakopita in a Greek bakery. Find a good place to people watch and picnic, or cook in a hostel kitchen. You can probably even gather a group to contribute to a communal “home” cooked meal! When you do decided to indulge in a restaurant meal, make it lunch; you’ll get the best deals midday.
(2) Investigate unconventional sleeping options
Hostels are the usual go-to, and are generally both fun and cost-efficient, but don’t forget to check out your other options! Couchsurfing means not only getting a free bed, but chances are a new local friend to show you the ropes as well. Websites like Airbnb rent spare rooms or beds for a sometimes more affordable rate, depending on location and season. If you’re outdoorsy and the weather is good, strap a small tent to your bag and set up camp. And don’t forget about overnight transport – taking overnight buses, trains, or boats saves money and gives you more time to explore during daylight hours.
(3) Invest in a good pair of walking shoes
Save money on transport and get your exercise in at the same time. Get a good map, plot out the places you want to see, and create yourself a walking tour while you sip your morning coffee. Try to plan it so that you only need transport to your start point and back again. You’ll see more of the city this way, too. Walking makes you available to spy street art, buskers, architecture, and just plain interesting folks that you might not otherwise be privy to. Some cities also have free walking tours, financed by an optional tip for the tour guide.
(4) Get off the beaten track
Choose your destinations wisely. Of course, visit the iconic places, but consider less touristic options as well. Budapest or Istanbul will be cheaper than London or Paris, and Chiang Mai cheaper than Phuket. Plus you’ll get a special perspective travelling to unconventional places. The same applies within cities. Try to find places to eat, sleep and shop away from the main tourist sites. You’ll find cheaper options, and probably get a more genuine cultural experience.
(5) Do your research
This is possibly the most important thing you can do to improve your experience abroad, financially and otherwise. Guidebooks are your friend, as are the growing resources on the internet and the advice of any locals willing to offer it. Do any of the museums and sites you want to see have special rates or free entry once a week? When are the peak, shoulder and off seasons where you’re trying to visit? Will the weather be warm enough to wander about on foot? What is the public transport system like? Are there certain clothes you need to bring to be culturally appropriate? What are the local must-tries, must-dos, and must-sees? Use your resources and find the answers. It will save you money, and mean you enjoy everything your destination has to offer. After all, you can’t experience something if you never know its there.