Travel used to be ludicrously expensive. Now it’s less expensive and far easier to budget for. Here are four ways to save money traveling abroad.
Travel at Night
Most people are familiar with the advantages of overnight flights. They’re usually cheaper, they help manage jet lag, and they’re an easy way to give yourself an extra day wherever you’re going. But if you’re looking to travel during your vacation, look into booking overnight bus or train rides. They have some of the same advantages of an overnight flight, with the added one that you won’t need to book accommodation for that night. This won’t work for people who have a hard time sleeping on transportation, but if you can manage a few hours of sleep on a bus, consider the ride your hotel for the night.
Cook Your Own Food
Cooking for yourself is almost laughably cheaper than dining out every night. It’s true at home and true overseas, at least in most places. There’s no reason to blow every penny you have on three meals out when you can pour a bowl of cereal for breakfast, pack a sandwich for lunch and roast something for dinner. We don’t mean every day should be completely devoid of food someone else prepared. By all means, give local street food a try, or treat yourself to a big meal if you find a restaurant you really want to visit, but those decisions become far more feasible if you know you’re going back to a stocked fridge.
A small bonus tip here is that places that allow for self-catering are often cheaper and/or more memorable places to stay. Airbnbs and hostels are the ones that come to mind immediately, and we remember much more about both of those than the hotels we’ve stayed in.
Check Your Bank’s International Policy
There are a few tips out there telling people to get themselves an international money card, but we’d like to suggest simplifying the process even further. Check with your bank or credit card to see what kind of international fees you’d be dealing with if you used your bank card. There’s more than one that has no foreign transaction fees, which will save you a boatload. That means you won’t be stacking small percentages that eventually add up to a few hundred dollars worth of extra spending.
Two quick tips are wrapped up in this, too. When paying with a credit card, pay in the country’s currency, not your home currency. Companies that offer those kind of exchange rates calculate them in their own favor, while your credit card or bank will calculate them in theirs (and by extension, yours). Use your card to withdraw money from ATMs attached to banks wherever you are. You get uninflated exchange rates and, sometimes, banks have international agreements that waive ATM fees. It also gives you cash, which obviously has no fees attached to it.
Don’t Sprint from Place to Place
Apparently there’s a bit of an American tendency to make a vacation about getting to as many countries or cities as possible instead of doing a deeper dive into a single location. Naturally, when you’re bouncing around like that, you’re going to rake in the expenses and you’re going to end up negating a few of the other tips on this list. You have to pay to travel, which adds up no matter how you’re getting where you’re going. Not sticking to one place also makes it harder to cook for yourself. You need time you don’t have to food shop, which means you’ll be paying for pricey meals at restaurants. Finally, if you only have a day or two in a place, you’ll try to cram in as many attractions as possible. Some will probably be free, but definitely not the majority. And if you’re cramming stuff in a few cities, those entrances fees are going to take a good chunk out of your budget.
Instead, pick a place and stay in it. On an emotional level, it’s more relaxing and enables a more fulfilling vacation. On a logistical level, it helps you regulate expenses. You’ll probably be able to get a multi-night rate wherever you’re staying, you can cook for yourself, and you can take your time with the attractions. Most importantly, you’re not going to be dropping a small fortune on buses, cars, trains, or flights.