Everybody wants to travel abroad. Whether your dream is to explore the rainforests of South America, trek through remote regions of Asia or backpack through Europe one aspect of international travel is universal: it is incredibly expensive. From getting to your destination(s) to finding a place to stay to feeding yourself, almost everything costs more. This is because, particularly in Europe and Asia, the US and Canadian dollars do not perform well against the Euro and the other currencies used in these regions.
The expense shouldn’t deter you from taking your dream trip, though! Not when there are so many different ways to reduce the amount you spend while traveling. Here are some of our favorite ways to cut costs when we decide it’s time to leave our own continent.
Surf the Web
Don’t ever buy the first plane ticket you find or book your hotel through the hotel’s website. Instead use services such as hotel booking websites to find better deals on your travel and lodging expenses. There are so many deals that can only be found through these sites. Sign up for memberships with at least a few of them and set up email alerts to let you know when there are deals on airfare, train tickets, hotel rooms, etc.
Travel With Friends
Traveling alone can be a grand adventure, to be sure: you get to go wherever you want, whenever you want and do whatever you want without having to worry if anybody else is having fun. Still, traveling with friends can reduce costs considerably. A hotel room split even two ways can dramatically reduce the amount of money you spend on vacation. Splitting that same room between four of you reduces costs even further. Just make sure the hotel doesn’t charge you per guest!
Travel to See Friends
If you have friends who live abroad go see them! You can often stay with them (for free) and they will often feed you at least a couple of meals. Best of all, your friends who live locally can take you to places off of the beaten tourist paths and show you how people in that location actually live, eat, and work together.
On the flip side of this, offer a housing exchange. Have them stay in your home while you stay in theirs! Everybody gets a vacation in a new/strange place that has all of the comforts of food–most important of all is a kitchen, which leads us to…
Pack as little as possible. Many airlines are now charging exorbitant fees for checked luggage (some even charge by the pound) and some are threatening to even start charging for carry-on bags. Remember: most of the places you will visit will have stores at which you can buy the supplies you need.
Shop for Groceries, Not Meals
Eating out at restaurants is part of the fun of traveling. It is also where most of your money is spent while you travel. Instead of finding a restaurant for every meal, take advantage of in-room refrigerators, coffee pots, etc and keep some groceries on hand. Find a local grocery store (well out of tourist radius, so the food will be cheaper) and buy snacks and supplies for breakfasts and lunches that you can pack and take with you.
Other great ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on food include taking advantage of as many happy hours as you can find, grabbing snacks at any provided continental breakfasts or buffets put out by your hotel and eating at off-peak hours. It’s also good to eat heavy at lunch so that you won’t be as hungry at dinner, when the same food is marked up in price.
Whenever possible, skip the cost of a rental vehicle and use metro passes to take trains and busses to the places you want to go. In some areas, tourists and travelers can get special discounted travel rates on metro cards and bus passes to save even more money on getting around.
Obviously there are going to be things that you will want to see and do while you are traveling; certain attractions you’ve always wanted to experience first hand. Even so, don’t schedule every minute of your vacation before you arrive at your destination. Plan on one “must do” thing each day. This will give you plenty of time to get to and from places and time to simply wander around and explore. Wandering doesn’t cost you anything!
There are a lot of different ways to reduce the amount of money you spend while traveling. Use as many of them as possible so that you can take as many trips as possible!