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Tips for traveling on a budget

May. 15, 2018
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Travel is addicting; there are limitless places to explore, but most of us do not have limitless budgets to see them. I believe that traveling shouldn’t mean constant splurging or constant settling. I have a few tips on how to see the world without sacrificing this month’s rent.

Plan ahead.

Traveling spontaneously can be exciting, but surge prices aren’t! While making last-minute restaurant or accommodation plans might not set you into a debt spiral, I recommend booking transportation in advance. Make sure to research your airline to find out about any extra costs like in-flight food or carry-on prices. 

Tip: If you are typically an impromptu traveler, sign up for alerts from airlines to find out about flash sales and special prices on flights, hotels, and car rentals. This is budget-friendly way to maintain the excitement of making last-minute travel plans.

Ask about student discounts.

Most museums, religious buildings like cathedrals and synagogues, galleries, and theaters offer student discounts if you have proof of your enrollment. (Don’t forget to pack your student ID!) Even if a student price is not advertised, don’t be afraid to ask! On a recent trip to Venice, my friend and I inquired about discounted opera tickets for students and were able to experience a magnificent concert for half the price of a typical adult ticket.

Talk with the locals.

Ask your taxi driver, museum guide, or cafe barista where they and their friends like to eat and shop. They are bound to share their favorite hole-in-the-wall spots that won’t attract tourists or have overpriced menus.

Tip: On that note, avoid restaurants near major tourist sites. These spots are meant to reel in over-walked, exhausted travelers who are looking for a convenient spot to refuel. A sure way to identify these joints is by staff coaxing you into their restaurant, pictures of food on the menu, and fellow diners donning cameras for necklaces and using city maps as napkins.

For the adventurer: Try dining at a local’s home. Websites like Meal Sharing connect travelers with locals to bond over culture and cuisine. Most meals are quite affordable, and good conversations and new friends are always free!

Explore free sites. 

Most cities offer free walking tours, museums with no entry fee, and a plethora of public gardens and parks. Don’t be put off if these services and attractions ask for a donation; part of traveling is making sure that a place can be sustained long after your trip ends. 

Be careful with currency.

I have discovered that the best exchange rates can usually be found at ATMs. However, every place is different, so make sure to do research before jet-setting to your destination to find out how to make your dollar go the furthest.

Get creative with food.

Unless you’re staying at a home and have the option to cook for yourself, you might find yourself regularly dropping cash at restaurants. Venture into local specialty shops and supermarkets to buy wallet-friendly food. Markets are a wonderful way to interact with locals and discover fresh finds, too. In Venice, we visited the local market in the mornings to get breakfast and then would stop at a bar in the evenings to try different variations of cicheti, small Italian snacks that cost around €2.00 each.