While traveling overseas can be rewarding and fun, it can surely also cost a fortune. Save yourself from the unnecessary expenses – instead, use them for treats and other worthwhile purchases – by familiarizing yourself with these 10 golden rules on how to save money when traveling abroad.
1) The early bird will definitely catch the worm.
Being early is favorable for all situations, especially when it comes to overseas travel. So if you want to save a great deal of money, book your vacation at least a month in advance. Not only will it give you a great and competitive fare price, the extra time prior to the trip gives you leeway for saving, filing vacation leaves at the office, and looking for babysitters for your pet dogs.
2) Know your destination’s off-season.
If you are a seasoned traveler, then you probably know the difference between the peak and off seasons. Peak seasons come with expensive rates (from flights to rooms), while off season rates are definitely cheaper. Although this is the case, off-season weather is oftentimes unconducive to traveling.
Save yourself from the cons of both seasons by booking a visit during the shoulder seasons – which are the months in between the peak and off seasons. Rooms and flights are cheaper (although not as cheap as off season rates), and the climate is marginally perfect for a day of touring and sightseeing. Best of all: there are not a lot of tourist lines to queue. To wit, a vacation during the shoulder seasons is a win-win situation.
3) Bring cash with you.
Save on expensive withdrawal fees (some bill as much as 200 Euros) by bringing the destination’s local currency, instead of withdrawing from the local ATM. Have it exchanged in your home country if possible. And if you truly need to withdraw money, get the maximum amount. Avoid repeated withdrawals of small amounts to save yourself from foreign transaction deductions.
4) Avoid changing currency at the airport.
In case you have not got your hands on your onward destination’s currency, the best way to save on money is to skip the currency exchange at the airport. But if you cannot afford to go outside the airport without a few bucks on you, exchange only a small amount (say $20.) This is usually enough to get you to the city center, where banks and money exchangers offer better rates.
5) Book a hostel or a backpacker’s inn.
As a traveler, you know that you are only going to spend a fraction of your time (mostly just for sleeping) in your hotel. If you plan on staying out for most of the day, skip the expensive 5-star hotels book your vacation at a hostel or a motel instead. The services might be average, and the bed and fixtures sub-par than what you are used to, but a smart hotel choice (try Agoda.com or Booking.com) can help you save as much as $100 per night.
6) Be a smart eater.
You are in a foreign country – of course you want to try out its exotic tastes and flavors. But if you want to save on a huge deal of money, skip the hotel menu and explore the cafes and small restaurants by the city. While the service might not be as regal as that what you would expect from a first-class restaurant, you can expect to savor the unique culinary delights of the country – at a lot cheaper cost.
7) Commuting is cheaper.
Car rentals and gas costs can easily go up the roof, especially if you plan on touring most of the country’s landscape. Save yourself from these expenditures by trying the nation’s cheaper commuting options instead. Most countries have buses, trains and subways that cost as cheap as $1 per way. While uncomfortable (especially during rush hour), these forms of transportation allow you to enjoy the landscapes of the city – for a cheap price!
NB: Unless it is really necessary, avoid riding a cab, especially during the rush hours. Not only will you be stuck in traffic, you might end up paying a hefty fee for an attraction a mere 5 blocks away from your hotel.
8) Forget about international roaming option.
If you need to keep in touch with family and friends at home, or if you need to communicate with your fellow travelers, then do not activate your phone’s international roaming option. This is usually expensive, and you might get billed for missed calls and text messages from your home country. Avoid getting an astronomical phone bill by purchasing a local sim card instead. It usually comes with cheaper call and text messaging rates.
NB: Do not throw your sim card once you get home! If it has a longer validity period, keep it in your closet as you might be able to use it in your future travels.
9) Pick up city passes.
If you want to get the ultimate bang for your buck – and see most of the country’s tourist attractions – you will be better off with a tourist pass. Most tourist destinations offer such deals, such as the Paris Pass, New York Pass and the Go Singapore Pass, to name a few. What’s great about these passes is that you can purchase them online with your credit card – so you do not have to spend the little local currency you might have.
NB: Most tourist passes offer discounts for longer tours. For example, a 6-day Paris Pass costs only 210 Euros, in comparison to the 2-day pass that costs 117 Euros. So if you are going to stay for a longer time, grab the pass with the better deal.
10) Ask the retailer to bill you in local currency.
Think that being billed in US dollars is better? Think again. Save yourself from bad exchange rates by asking the merchant to bill you in the local currency. Foreign transactions, even if billed in US dollars, are usually converted with an absurdly high exchange rate.