As the summer travel season gets underway in many parts of the world, travellers are packing their bags to visit friends and family back home, or just heading out to explore a brand new locale. Travel is mind-expanding, but can simultaneously shrink your pocket book. Never fear, though because the team at Xpress Money has come up with top tips to keep budgets in check while travelling.
Live like a local:
The best way of saving money is to live like a local. Try to find a friend or guide who can show you the sights and sounds. There are services that can help you pair up with local friends. At the very least, join a local Facebook group that highlights attractions, great places to stay and things to experience. Not only will you benefit from a far more enriching and immersive travel experience but you’ll also avoid the tourist traps that sell overpriced stuff to people passing through.
Know where to eat and shop:
Most travellers spend a large chunk of their budget on food and drink. Here too, doing a bit of research in advance helps. Know where the local eateries are, and when busy restaurants are running specials. Planning ahead and doing some research will go a long way in getting some good and value for money deals.
Know where to stay:
Most people opt for hotel rooms when travelling. But the enterprising voyager has many options. Hostels, rooms to let, and even free couch surfing can serve those travelling light – and cut down on bills in the process.
Also, pick your location carefully. Don’t underestimate the cost of commuting, even when using public transport. It’s best to stay in a pedestrian-friendly area near all the attractions you want to visit. Rather than hailing a cab, all you’ll need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
Pick your country:
It seems like stating the obvious, but exchange rates and costs of living vary tremendously across countries. If you pick a destination where the exchange rate is favourable, you might be able to live the high life without spending a whole lot. Try Far East Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand or the Philippines. Alternatively, head towards the Baltic Belt in Eastern Europe to discover gems such as Croatia.
Peak season travel is usually expensive, and discounts are few and far between. Travelling near Eid, Christmas, or during the summer vacations can be costly. Flights are full, airports busy and airline tickets expensive. Pick an off-season time – say just after New Year’s, to take advantage of empty flights and great deals.
It goes without saying that purchasing goods at your holiday destination will pad your bills. So unless the very purpose of your trip is to indulge in some shopping opportunities, pack very carefully so you’ll have everything you need for your trip – and won’t have to dip into your pocket for essentials.
Watch out for transaction fees:
Many debit and credit financial products carry an exchange rate fee when you make transactions abroad – and these can rack up. Check with your bank before travelling to see how much you’ll be charged to withdraw money at an ATM, or when swiping your card.
Choose a financial product designed for travel:
Alternatively, do away with conventional banking products and pick something designed for travellers. Some forex houses offer prepaid travel cards that can carry multiple currencies. Not only do they offer competitive fees but travellers also know that their bank details won’t be compromised in case their card gets lost or stolen.