Budget Travel Tips to Help You Save on Your Next Vacation
Expert advice on how to explore the world—without digging too deep into your pockets.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
You probably don’t want to dish out the equivalent of your mortgage payment on one meal, so instead of opting for the restaurant mentioned on your hotel map, ask the locals where they like to eat. Since they know the city well, they know where to find the best food at the best prices. You’ll end up with a deliciously authentic meal without the tourist-heavy price tag. If you’re in a city where you don’t speak the language well, do a quick search online for reviews from past travellers.
Travel by Train
One of the best budget travel tips when in Europe is to take the train as much as possible. It’s often the most affordable option, and if you’re booking two or more weeks in advance, you’ll get an even cheaper rate than you would on the day of travel. Another bonus to travelling by train, aside from the total comfort of today’s high-speed trains, is that you can actually enjoy the scenery along the way.
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Book an Organized Tour
The idea of following a group may not be too appealing to you, but as far as budget travel tips go, a packaged tour often delivers the biggest bang for your buck. Organized tours give you the benefit of group rates and the freedom to explore on your own. You simply can’t get the same hotel and transportation rates on your own. When abroad, this can be a very inexpensive and convenient way to travel. Plus, you won’t have the headache of organizing your transportation along the way.
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Pay For Breakfast in Advance
When booking a hotel, select the package that includes breakfast, if available. It may seem like you’re spending more for nothing but when you arrive at your destination with no pre-paid meal, you may be surprised by how much you’ll be charged for a continental breakfast. To keep your rates lower and prevent surprise charges, pre-paying your meal is the best way to go.
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Pack Water Bottles with You
If possible, stock up on water at the local corner store before heading out on your daily adventure. In warm destinations, tourists far too often find themselves burnt out, exhausted and dehydrated by midday. And yes, there are merchants who take advantage of this. Ever purchased a bottle of water at 2:00 p.m. in front of the shade-less Colosseum in Rome? The price for a bottle of water can be extremely high (sometimes more than $10 CDN) and at the end of a week or two, can really start to add up. Purchase your water in the morning, when the weather is cool, from a less popular area. You’re less likely to get ripped off and you’ll have plenty of fluids with you for the day.
Travel During Low Season
Even the most expensive cities in the world have low tourist seasons. During off-seasons, you’re more likely to come across better deals, with hotels and even restaurants charging less than they would at peak. Search the most popular times to travel to your destination city, and look instead to the shoulder season, when the weather is still favourable, but prices are on a downward trend. You’ll enjoy the destination even more without hoards of tourists in the way, and you’ll save a pretty penny while you’re at it.
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Cook Your Own Meals
If you are able to score a hotel with a kitchenette, all the better. This way, you can sample local foods and cook them yourself. Even in the world’s most expensive cities, a trip to a local fresh food market is relatively inexpensive. Feel free to ask the merchants how to cook foods you are not familiar with. You’ll save a ton of money by dining in and you’ll also learn much more about the local culture and diet by food shopping and cooking on your own.
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Visit Local Parks
Most local parks do not have an entrance fee and they are often overlooked as a sight to see. More often than not, local parks offer a peaceful view of a new city. You’ll also get the chance to observe local animals, enjoy the warm weather if you’re in a sunny destination, and appreciate the lifestyle of the locals. This is not only a fun, adventurous activity, but it’s completely free.
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Do Your Research
Search the Internet for reviews from travellers who have already visited this destination. They may be able to shed some light on budget travel tips, as well as popular scams to avoid in certain areas. For example, if a particular city is known for scam artist taxi drivers, you’ll know to book a ride in advance, from the airport direct to your hotel. Don’t wait to experience the rip-off yourself. Unfortunately, millions of tourists are scammed every day. Let their experience keep you from making the same mistakes.
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Search For Discounted Tickets Before You Go
Cities with dozens of major attractions, like London, for example, usually offer multi-attraction ticket passes. You’ll want to consider not only what’s included in the pre-paid pass, but also whether or not you can feasibly tackle all of the attractions in the time available to you.