It’s amazing how far $30 can go in other countries. For example, that is how much it cost for one night to book this modern, centrally located studio apartment in Capetown (complete with kitchen and washer/dryer). An 1.5 hour long taxi ride in Bali costs about the same. You can buy 30 banh mi sandwiches in Vietnam. My point is, you don’t have to be rich to travel well. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the nation and I still manage to fit travel time into my life. For me, travel is one of the best ways you can push your own boundaries and grow. It forces you out of your comfort zone and in turn, strengthens your wit and intuition. It teaches you how to hustle and have a backup plan a, b, c, and d if plans go off course. It teaches you amazing life skills that can be then applied to every other aspect of your life. There are still many more places I’d like to visit but so far, my travels have taught me how to be savvy with my money. Here are my 20 top tips I’d like to share, some of which are obvious and some not so obvious:
1) Travel during a country’s low season.
You may have to brave through some rough patches of weather but there will be moments of respite.
2) Do you look like a local? Then play it off.
Learn how to say “Local price?” in the language along with basic currencies.
3) Barter your skills.
Teach an English class. DJ in exchange for a room at a resort or even for free meal and drinks.
4) Establish sources of passive income.
Got a skill to share? Sell it online. Create a downloadable ebook. Sell your travel photos to stock photography sites. Create an instruction video and upload to Udacity or Lynda. Rent out your car or apartment while away.
5) Eat and drink like a local.
Skip the fancy restaurants and opt for the local spots or even street food. Use TripAdvisor and FourSqaure to find reviews on places to eat. Pass on imported beer or liquor and drink domestically produced spirits.
6) Purchase a local SIM card and data package.
Domestic mobile carrier travel plans are super expensive. ATT, TMobile, and Sprint will even charge you more if you go over your allotted data or airtime for your package. Unlock your phone and find any cell phone booth at the foreign airport at your arrival. You can buy a SIM card and data plan for around $20 and won’t have to worry about crazy overage fees.
7) Pull local currency from ATM’s.
Currency exchange booths will often charge higher conversion rates. Even with your possible bank fee, ATM’s will still be cheaper than the airport currency booths.
8) Pay close attention and learn your currency.
All the extra zeros on foreign currency on top of exchange rates can get confusing at first. Double check to ensure you are paying to a 5000 note versus a 50000 note for example. Some merchants may not always be so honest to catch your mistake. Download a currency app on your phone for quicker reference on conversion rates.
9) For airfare, use Skyscanner and GoogleFlights to find good deals.
These are search engine sites that will scour the web for the lowest airfare deals.
10) For accommodations use Airbnb, HostelWorld, and Booking.com.
Rent someone’s home. Find deals on last minute hotels. And lastly, get it out of your head that hostels are bad. Some hostels actually resemble some of the finest boutique hotels, especially if they offer options for private rooms. Use filters wisely and read reviews to make the best choices.
11) For mobile communication download WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber.
Purchasing a data plan at your destination is cheaper than buying talktime. Data can be used on any local cellular network. You can make calls or send texts through these apps. You can even use Facebook messenger for calls or facetime.
12) Use Uber or GrabTaxi.
These options are cheaper than local taxis but be mindful that some countries are highly against it.
13) Book a spot with a kitchen.
Definitely eat out and soak in local cuisine but cook if you can. Prepare sandwiches for lunch while out and about. Opt for the free breakfast if offered.
14) Buy food at farmer’s markets.
The less hands your food needs to be passed through, the cheaper. Buy fruits and vegetables straight from the source, avoiding any middle mark-up costs.
15) Book your stay in centrally located areas.
This will save you on transportation if you can walk to nearby restaurants, shopping, and points of interest.
16) Travel with at least one buddy.
Split costs on rooms and transportation.
17) Rent your car or sublet your spot.
Use sites like Craigslist, Airbnb, or Getaround to list your car or residence while you are away.
18) Pack light.
Save on baggage check-in fees. You may want to bring home trinkets instead. In that case, buy a cheap bag overseas before heading home and do your shopping towards the end of your trip.
19) Fly on a slow day.
Airfare tends to be cheaper if you fly between Mon – Wednesday.
20) Have a loose plan.
Waiting until the last minute to buy airfare can be expensive. Try to at least have a general plan of where you want to go and buy your tickets ahead of time.
Please feel free to share some of your best travel tips here to help someone else live out their best adventures. Happy Travels!