Published on February 14, 2017
International travel is expensive enough. Make your dollar stretch while you're abroad by following these ten commandments of how to travel on a budget.
1. Thou shall not take a taxi
Unless you're traveling late at night, taxi cabs should be the last resort in terms of city transportation. Familiarize yourself with local public transportation as fast as you can, so you're comfortable using the system and saving money. The metro or bus are much cheaper options to taxi cabs. Of course, the best way to travel is by walking or biking, since it's good for your wallet and for your health (double win). If you insist on taking a car, many cities have ride-sharing services, like Uber, which are usually cheaper than hopping in a cab.
2. Thou shall not spend money at the mall
Barring some souvenirs and keepsakes, shopping should be kept to a minimum. Forbid yourself from spending money on unnecessary clothing items, gadgets, shoes, etc. It will add to your luggage weight and you could be using that money on experiences instead.
3. Thou shall picnic whenever the weather's good
Picnicking in a famous park or plaza is the perfect way to combine sightseeing, sunbathing, lunch and money-saving. It can be fun to people-watch or read a book with a sack lunch or have a group of friends each bring a favorite dish in tupperware and enjoy the diverse flavors of an international potluck picnic. You may even make some friends in the park along the way.
4. Thou shall research transportation costs
Do your homework ahead of time when it comes to deciding on how you're going to travel around. Buses are often the cheapest option, but also take up more time. Trains and flights can be inexpensive too, especially if you buy your tickets in advance. With some online research you should be able to find the least expensive traveling option that suits your needs.
5. Thou shall eat at restaurants as little as possible
Restaurants are an easy way to waste a lot of money. Even though it's fun to eat out, restaurants are generally not the best way to get to know a city, and they are often costly - especially if you eat out multiple nights per week. Save the fancy restaurants for special occasions. Eat food from the grocery store and prepare meals at home to avoid wasting too much money on dinners. Plus, if you buy food at the store you don't have to worry about embarrassing yourself at a restaurant if you don't know the language.
6. Thou shall make reservations ahead of time
The further in advance you book lodging, the more value you'll get out of it. Inexpensive, quality rooms are the first to book up, so if you can plan out a trip ahead of time, you'll likely save some money by finding great places to stay through Airbnb or Hostelworld.
7. Thou shall carry a water bottle
Bringing a water bottle around with you is a small way to cut costs. You can save a few dollars a day by never having to buy beverages while you're out, plus you're more likely to stay hydrated.
8. Thou shall not eat out for lunch
Bringing a sack lunch saves you both time and money. It's so much cheaper to buy ingredients at the store and make sandwiches, wraps, salads, healthy snacks and eat that at the office rather than going out to eat. You can invest the extra lunch time at the office making friends and professional contacts.
9. Thou shall use Google flights
Familiarize yourself with the Google flights tool, which is great at finding the best prices on flights based on your needs. You can easily see which days are cheaper and more expensive to fly. You can also browse destinations to see which places are cheaper to fly to from a specific starting-off point.
10. Thou shall avoid expensive tourist traps
Every city has its touristy areas, which are great for when you first arrive to a city because they are catered towards outsiders. At the same time, these comfortable, English-speaking spots also come at a price. After your first night, it's a good idea not to spend too much time or money in a touristy area. Not only will you spend more in these areas, but you're also at a higher risk of being pick-pocketed. Instead, do some research and find some local spots that offer up a fun vibe at a lower price - it will be a more authentic travel experience anyway.
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