This is a guest post from Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. Most people are under the illusion that travel is expensive. They see ads for expensive hotels, cruises, and European holidays and assume that travel has to be like that and that the only other way to travel is to be a backpacker, sleep in hostels, and cook pasta each day. That may be great for most people under 25 but for people with families, it is unrealistic. So people go on living this lie and spending hundreds per day on their one vacation a year.
Well, that vision of travel is a lie. It’s created by the travel industry to make you spend lots of money. There is a happy medium between backpacking and luxury travel and I’ve been doing it for three years. Travel is inexpensive and, as proof, here are some budget travel tips that can help save you a lot of money on your next trip:[ad#tdg-embedded]
Don’t overlook hostels. Hostels offer private rooms with a bathroom, wireless, and towels- all the amenities of hotel at half the price. Hostels are not just twenty bed dorm rooms with shared showers. A hostel in Times Square with the above amenities is only $90 per night while the closest 1 star hotel is over 100. They have a wide range of rooms to suite all types of travelers. Don’t overlook them.
Book last minute. Economic times are tough right now and many tourist operators are suffering. They are offering many great deals in order to entice people to buy. In order to meet quotas, they are offering many great last minute deals. It’s a buyer’s market so hold out until the end because they need you more than you need them.
Negotiate. Since times are so tough, don’t be afraid to negotiate. If they tell you one rate for a room or a tour, ask if they can go lower. Counter offer. If they say no, ask if you can get a cheap upgrade or if you are traveling with a group, one person free. Don’t be unreasonable in your demands but remember that times are tough, especially in areas like Las Vegas, Hawaii, or Florida where they rely heavily on tourist dollars. It’s your market. Take advantage of it. I got a free upgrade in Chicago just by asking.
Never visit a restaurant in the guidebook. Anything in a guidebook will always be more expensive than somewhere else. Ask people on the street where good places to eat are or go to a tourist area and then walk 4 blocks in any direction- you’ll get better food at a cheaper price.
Always visit the tourist office. They always have discounts available for tourists. Moreover, they will be able to tell you about free attractions, current promotions and deals, as well as good restaurants that are not expensive. They are there to help not tout.
Book flights 6-8 weeks in advance. Airlines are always the most expensive part of a trip. Booking 6-8 weeks before you go away will ensure the best price. The airline pricing system penalizing last minute tickets as well as advance bookings (airlines need to hedge against any rise in costs.) Moreover, always book round trip- you get a better that way too.
Visit the supermarket. Eating out every meal can be expensive. A good way to get to know the diet of the people as well as save money is to head to the grocery store. It’s always interesting to see what people eat and a good way to make sandwich using the local ingredients. Save money and eat well.
There are many ways to save money while traveling overseas. Vacations don’t have to cost a fortune. If you put a little work and effort into, you can easily save money. The most important way to think about is to think about what do you do to save money on a day to day basis and then do that overseas. Remember that locals don’t spend hundreds per day living in a destination, and if you act like them, you’ll get their local experience at the same local price.
Matthew Kepnes has been traveling around the world on a budget for over three years. He’s been to Europe, Asia, Australia, and Central America. You can find out more at his website, Nomadic Matt. If you want more travel tips, photos, and stories from his upcoming 3 month trip to Europe, you can also subscribe to his RSS feed.