Traveling can be a wonderful adventure to new countries, cultures and experiences; however one thing always seems to stand in the way of starting our next adventure. The cost of traveling can be expensive and while we wish we could travel, bills and other expenses tend to take priority. So how can we travel while seeing more of the world and spending less? There are five simple tasks that can be done to save money while fully embracing your destination and travel experience.
There are over 40 countries with commonly exchanged currencies, making exchange fees big money for companies looking to make an income off of travelers. If you are traveling to a place where you will need to exchange money, be weary of commissions and exchange fees. Most travelers exchange their money once they are in the airport of their intended destination, but airports tend to have the highest exchange fees and we’re sure there are better things you’ll want to spend your traveling budget on.
To avoid high fees, call your bank a few days before leaving for your trip and let them know you’d like to exchange currencies. Your bank will order in the currency and within a few days you will be able to exchange your cash with lower fees than you’d find anywhere else. Some banks even waive currency fees for their best customers, so be sure to ask if that is possible.
To save money and earn rewards, use a credit card for your more expensive purchases, such as accommodations. Cards with high international reward points and low transaction rates can be a safe and friendly way to save some money and earn points for future trips.
Many countries have excellent public transportation systems, and by researching ahead of time, you will be able save money and see your destination from the eyes of a local. Renting a car has daily costs and fees, not to mention the cost of gas. Taxis are also expensive and some drivers will “take the long way” to tally up your bill. So avoid all that by using public transit. However, a word of caution, watch out for pickpockets on the public transit systems and keep money in your front pockets.
Experience Lesser Known Attractions
By seeing the country’s most touristy attractions, you are getting overcharged. Try to limit your trip to one big attraction (think the Eiffel tower) and then visit the lesser known attractions. By seeking out attractions that are less touristy, you gain a deeper understanding of local culture and save money in the process.
Eating out can be a very expensive thing while traveling. By seeking out grocery stores, you can make quick meals for an inexpensive cost. If cooking while you travel isn’t your speed, talk to locals about good spots that have local specials and aren’t filled with tourists. Also think about children’s meals, they are less expensive, and tend to be healthier.
If you must eat out and do not want kid portions, eat more during the meals of breakfast and lunch. By doing so, you should be fuller for dinner which is the most expensive meal of the day. By eating less at dinner, you’ll shave off a few dollars.
Vacations are about getting away and exploring new places. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore, relax and enjoy your trip. Any money spent on a trip where you had an amazing experience and returned relaxed is well worth the money spent.
By following a these easy tips, travel expenses will decrease, allowing you to see more while spending less.
The best road trips are the ones that involve a string of memorable events as you go from point A to point B. Experienced road trippers know that the best part of the trip has nothing to do with the destination – it’s all about the journey. So how do you make the most of your time on the road? Do you schedule every mile of the journey to make sure you’ve filled every moment of your vacation, or do you just pick a direction and start driving?
Choose Your Vehicle Wisely
A good road trip starts with a good vehicle. Most of us are limited to whatever is currently sitting in the garage, but there are definitely some vehicles that are better than others for a long journey. Those large SUVs are going to look extremely tempting – they’re roomy, they sit above most of the surrounding traffic, and they’re extremely comfortable. Of course, you will blow the major portion of your budget on fuel if you go this route.
The other end of the spectrum is the small, fuel-efficient cars that will carry you from one side of a state to another with minimal gas usage. Unfortunately, this can also lead to maximum discomfort after a few hours on the road.
It is possible to find a vehicle that walks the line between these two extremes – a vehicle that offers the interior space and reasonable gas mileage that will make a trip comfortable for you and your wallet. Of course, unless you’re planning on renting a vehicle specifically for the trip, you’re going to be limited to whatever you currently own. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you just need to be aware of the benefits and limitations of your vehicle.
Will you plan out every stop along the trip, or will you simply head west and then turn around after you spend half of your money? There are a lot of opportunities to find hotel rooms for cheap even if you don’t call ahead, but you will be taking a lot of chances. You may find yourself sleeping in your car as often as you do a nice New York Hotel. Of course, that just might be half the fun.
Open ended road trips may lead to spending a night in a questionable neighborhood, but it could also create the opportunity to see and experience a lot of things you would otherwise miss if you are determined to stick to a pre-planned schedule. Of course, these days there are a lot of ways for road trippers to be impulsive without risking a stay at a questionable accommodation. With a good travel app and a reliable GPS you can add some adventure to your road trip without the risk of spending a night in the car.
Consider the following as a potential road trip method: choose the city or locations where you want to end up, but don’t plan your stops along the way. You don’t even have to decide on more than a couple attractions that you expect to see as you go. When you reach any given town, though, rather than just stopping in at the nearest drive-through, use your travel apps or your GPS to find something completely different. Search for something a little more generalized, like “Thai food” or “pastries” and find out what each city has to offer in these areas. You may be surprised. On top of that, the GPS will soon have you travelling through parts of the city you would have never seen if you had planned out every step of the trip.
Lodging can pose a slightly different problem, though. You need to find something that fits the budget and seems clean and safe. It only takes a little last minute research, though, and you can still discover some great accommodations that other travelers have rated well.
Whether you enjoy travelling with to specific destinations with set schedules or you prefer the kind of road trip that is open to a lot of unforeseen possibilities, just make sure you have the best tools to make the most out of your time on the road.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
Break up your regular routine with a refreshing weekend getaway. A few days of relaxation could be just what you need to recharge your batteries, and you don’t even need to go far from home to enjoy a weekend vacation. Here are some ideas for making your next trip easy and stress-free.
Quick Getaway Options
The point of a quick weekend escape is to do it on a whim, with little or no planning. All-inclusive resorts and hotels are great for this because they often have ready-made packages that include your food, lodging and an array of activities. A local bed-and-breakfast can be perfect for weekend trips, too, and you can find them nearly anywhere.
Since you don’t want travel-time to eat up too much of your weekend, consider spots just outside of town or a short flight away. The shorter your travel-time, the more time you’ll have for activities or just unwinding.
Weekend Travel Tips
Book your flight and hotel together. You can often get significant hotel discounts when you book your hotel and airline tickets through a single company. Because these travel sites get a percentage of both sales, they’re likely to offer deals on such travel bundles.
Pack light for more freedom. Really, how much can you possibly need for a quick weekend trip? When you lug around a lot of baggage, your movement is limited, and you’re instantly marked as a tourist. You’ll miss a lot of opportunities that are available to off-the-beaten-path travelers with more freedom to explore. You need to stay mobile, so follow a couple of simple rules when packing for a weekend getaway:
- Stick to a single, 20-pound bag. Such small carry-ons don’t have to be checked, and you’ll be hailing a taxi while everyone else is milling about the baggage claim. (Check your airline for size and weight restrictions for carry-on bags.)
- Pack just a single change of clothes. Chances are that you can arrange to have your travel clothes cleaned upon arrival, and you can buy an extra shirt, pants or cheap shoes at your destination if you really need them.
- Always keep a travel toiletries bag packed. A small toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and other necessities will fit in a small travel bag that weighs less than a pound. (Check TSA requirements restricting fluids before you go.)
Check travel warnings for your destination. This can include weather warnings or State Department travel advisories. You’ll also want to know beforehand if the country you’re visiting has special visa requirements or travel restrictions for foreign visitors.
Pack the car beforehand. If you’re driving to your weekend getaway, get a head-start by packing your car the night before. That way, you can leave first thing in the morning, or straight from the office to beat weekend traffic going out of town.
Look up one or two good restaurants. Sampling the local fare is a big part of enjoying travel, and it’s easy to find reviews and recommendations from just about any travel destination. Look for something that’s not too far from your hotel. There’s a benefit to having two good restaurants on your list. If you like the first place you try, you’ve found a good spot to come back to. If not, you have a back up.
Ask locals for recommendations. You can ask the concierge at your hotel, but they’re not all equally knowledgeable. Local visitor centers are similarly a crap-shoot. But local people almost always have their favorite haunts, and they’ll usually be happy to steer you in the right direction if you don’t look like too green a tourist.
Pack your handheld GPS. You’re no longer at the mercy of vague maps and poor directions when you travel. If you can program a couple choice locations into your GPS beforehand, you’ll be less likely to get lost in an unfamiliar city, which means less time spent being lost as well. If you don’t have a GPS, it’s worth the effort to print detailed maps of the area surrounding your hotel.