“The further I travel, the closer I am to myself.” – Andrew McCarthy
Traveling opens worlds, it broadens your horizons and it will change your perspective on life. Whether you’re taking a much needed, mid year break to recharge your batteries, or whether you’re setting off to a different country to explore and discover, traveling away from our homes every once in a while can do us mountains of good.
Naturally, we don’t always have a big budget to splurge on vacations, so here are a few tips for traveling on a budget.
Pick the family run businesses
When a restaurant is owned by the dad, run by the mom and the waiters are members or the family, you’re much more likely to pay a better price for your food. The same goes for accommodations. The moment the owner is uninvolved and the staff is there for the money, not the love for what they do, you will end up paying more.
Avoid restaurants with “We speak English” signs
Automatically, this restaurants charge more just because they create an international feeling for visitors. Besides, you’ll probably eat much better food at the locally run restaurant around the corner. Learn a few key words before you go, have your phrasebook on the ready, and be open to new tastes.
Skip the restaurant lunches
Especially in summer, a picnic is a much more social en relaxed way to enjoy your meal. It also allows you to experience your destination’s green areas. Go to the local supermarket, stock up on bread, cheese and perhaps a bottle of wine, and relax somewhere on a lawn. The kids can play, you can catch up on your rest, and you won’t be spending a fortune on your food.
Transfer money to your destination before you go
When you’re traveling abroad, you have no control over the exchange rate. When you arrive and you want to draw money from the ATM, you might get a horrible deal because the exchange rate was bad on that day. If you transfer money to your destinations long before your trip, on a day that the exchange rate is good, you’ll have exactly that amount of money when you arrive on your first day of vacation. Then you can simply go to one of the Ria Money Transfer partner agents and pick up your money in the foreign currency. No ATM fees.
Walking is free
Walking is also the best way to truly get the feel for your destination without breaking the bank. Cities like London show the amount of minutes it takes to walk from on subway stop to the next on the map, because people often assume they have to take the train every time they need to go somewhere. You will save lots of money if you walk between your destinations, and subway maps are often misleading. Just because there are two stops between you and your next destination doesn’t mean they are far apart.
Hostels aren’t reserved for under 25’s
Just because you’re older or less rowdy than the stereotypical post-graduation backpacker doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of cheap accommodation. Many hostels have dorm rooms with three or four beds. If this is the size of your family or group, it might be the perfect budget option. Not all backpackers are dirty, and most of them include a basic breakfast. If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom, you’ll be just fine.
Don’t book your entire itinerary ahead of time
Although there are many deals available for online booking, not all savings are made from booking ahead of time. Once you’re at your destination, ask around at your accommodation or at the local restaurant about the best things to do in the area. The locals might have much better recommendations that are cheaper than the advertised tourist activities. In this way, you’ll also discover a much more local side of your destination.