Whether you’re setting out on your first backpacking trip or planning a family vacation, you might be wondering how to get the best bang for your buck. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, if you know how to go like a pro. Follow these five tips to make your dream vacation affordable without sacrificing any of the fun!
Do your research
Long gone are the days of the travel agent, save yourself some cash by doing your own research before buying a flight. Using Google Flights, hit the “explore” button to show the cheapest flight prices for destinations all over the globe. When you have chosen your destination, click on the calendar to see the cheapest flights from hundreds of airlines so you can choose the date and time that works best for you. If you have airline points to spend, refine your search to flights for that airline and start planning!
Beat The ATM fees
Nothing is worse than coming home from a relaxing vacation to a long list of bills, especially for things you didn’t realize you would be charged for. ATM withdrawals can really add up if you are using cash on your holiday. Make sure to check ahead with your bank to find out about international transaction fees, and let them know that you will be traveling with your card! If you’re worried about transaction fees but don’t want to carry around a pile of cash, a great option is to sign up for Revolut or Wise. Both apps allow you to transfer money conveniently to and from your local bank and use their credit cards for free or minimal fees all over the world.
Pack Less Than You Think You Need
It might go against your best instincts to leave that rain jacket, extra sweater, or pair of tennis shoes at home. But the truth is, most people pack way more than they need and end up buying things along the way anyway! A heavier suitcase means you might end up paying more at the airport, especially on the way home with all of your keepsakes. You can always buy the items you need at a local market when you reach your destination. This is often much cheaper and makes for a great souvenir! If you are planning to go for less than a month, consider ditching the luggage altogether and bringing carry-on bags. Most airlines will allow you to take a 60L bag, as well as a handbag or small backpack, in the cabin for no extra cost.
Try Alternative Accommodation
For all of the privacy and comfort of a fancy resort but without the price tag, try Hostel World and rent a private room in a hostel. In the past hostels have gotten a bad name, but in reality, most offer private rooms and free breakfast that compete with nearby hotels. Or if you feel like making friends, try a shared room where you can meet other travelers from all over the world. For the coziness of a home-away-from-home, look at the local Air BnB’s to find a secluded spot and live like a local.
When in Rome… Eat What The Locals Eat!
For the best traditional food at the cheapest prices, look for spots where the locals go to eat. There might be a Michelin Star restaurant in your city, but you wouldn’t go there every day for lunch – you would go to the place that makes something cheap and delicious, right? If you’re looking for authentic local cuisine that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, steer away from the tourist destinations and find out where the locals are heading. A great place to start is by checking out the local markets and street food vendors!
Try Local Transportation
One of the best ways to see a city through the eyes of a local is to take public transportation. If the idea of taking the tube, train, or bus isn’t appealing to you, most cities offer a public bike sharing system to make sustainable traveling cheap and easy. Just find one of the smart bike racks, scan the QR code with your phone and pay for a certain number of minutes to rent the bike. When you’re done just deposit it at the nearest bike rack around the city! Check this list to find a bicycle sharing system in your city, you might be surprised about how popular they really are!
Skip The Traditional Souvenirs
Yes, it is possible to have all the fun of a family vacation without the keychains, fridge magnets, or tacky T-shirts. Although it’s always nice to bring something home to show your friends, these little things really add up and add weight to your luggage. Instead, bring home some local goodies – buying things that are cheap, everyday objects in your holiday country can be the best way to share that culture with your friends at home. Belgian chocolate, Brazilian coffee beans, or Japanese Matcha tea can give your friends the full sensory experience of the country without taking too much money from your wallet or space from your bag. For your own keepsake, spend your money on items that you’re sure to use again like a pair of hiking boots that will always remind you of your trek through the mountains or a fancy dress that will make you reminisce about your salsa lessons on the beach.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com