A lot of people are under the common misconception that you have to have a lot of money to be able to travel, but if you know the tips and tricks, you can travel anywhere on a tight budget. Peak travel season is fast approaching, so it’s time to choose where you’re going and read up on how to minimise expenses while maximising opportunity.
1. Choose the right insurance
A lot of people tend to skip travel insurance, deeming it unnecessary, but you should never jet off without it. Travel insurance will cover the cost of any unforeseen incidents such as illness, injury or theft and some can even cover you if your trip needs to be cancelled because of an emergency. We can never know exactly what is going to happen and things don’t always go to plan, so it’s vital that we cover ourselves against the unpredictable. If you’re planning on going away more than once in the next year, opt for an annual insurance plan as this normally works out cheaper than taking out cover for each trip. This will, of course, vary depending on where you’re travelling so always do the calculations or compare deals online with a website such as Call Wiser.
2. Be specific with car rentals
More and more people are choosing car hire when they travel abroad, but there is a huge risk that you may be ripped off by the car insurance company that you choose. The majority of complaints are about impolite sales people, long queues and hidden charges such as excess insurance. Some travel insurance or credit card insurance might have an additional car rental insurance option which you should always take on board if the opportunity arises. If you’re travelling with young children, it may be cheaper to bring your own car seats as car rental companies can sometimes charge extra for this service. Be wary of services that offer to fill up your car for you; they will sometimes charge you for a full tank of gas even if you return the vehicle half full. Always ask outright about hidden charges so that you know exactly how much you’ll be forking out during your stay.
3. Eat like a local
The best way to save money on food is to get into the mindset of a local. If you’re travelling to a large city, there’ll be no shortage of expensive eateries that can seem tempting at the time but in the long-run, opting for places that are local haunts will save you more money that you thought. When you’re looking for somewhere to grab a spot of lunch, head out of the tourist areas where restaurants tend to increase their prices. Street food is one of the best ways to save money while trying some of the best local cuisines. If you’re staying in self-catered accommodation, there’s nothing stopping you from buying some ingredients from the supermarket and cooking your own meals for a couple of nights, too.
4. Try a home exchange
Accommodation, while you’re travelling, can be one of the biggest costs and the hardest area to save money. A website such as HomeExchange.com can let you post your own property for exchange with someone in the area you’re looking to visit. Of course, you’ll need to make sure your home is tidy and clean before they arrive and hope that they do the same. If this doesn’t sound like it’s for you, don’t worry. Other affordable (and sometimes even free) accommodation can come in the form of hostels and rental homes such as Airbnb which are usually cheaper than a hotel. These places also tend to be situated in local neighbourhoods, giving you a greater sense of community than you would if you were staying in a hotel filled with only tourists.
5. Research free activities
Once you’ve decided where you’re going, you’ll want to know what there is to do there. You may have factored activities into your decision already, but if you haven’t, then now is the time to research what you can do for free. Many major cities have free walking tours which are a great way to orientate yourself around a new location while seeing some of the best landmarks. No matter where you go, art and culture tend to be accessible to everyone. In London, for example, all major museums are free, and The Louvre in Paris is free on the first Sunday for every month. Also, remember that many attractions such as theme parks and museums can sometimes have discounts depending on age, so make sure to carry around an ID with you. A quick search of any city on the web can bring up a wide range of free activities, so your schedule can be jam packed without having to spend any money at all.