With summer on the way, it’s time to start planning your vacation. But while traveling abroad is something that probably everyone dreams about doing on a regular basis, you do need some money in order to actually make it all happen. But…not that much. In fact, it’s possible to save money while on vacation without limiting your enjoyment one bit.
1. Rent an apartment or use a hospitality exchange
You can’t feel the atmosphere of the city when you live in one of its boring hotels. In fact, the soul of many destinations can be found in the neighbourhoods in which everyday locals live and work. So, renting an apartment instead of booking a hotel room is often the smarter choice (such as via airbnb.com), especially, when you are planning to stay for a longer term. Doing so, you’ll not only be able to save money but also integrate into the local community.
Couch surfing is another great way of exploring places on a budget without spending a lot of money on accommodation (couchsurfing.com). Having registered on the website, you get an opportunity to connect with people who offer their space for free and share your own home with travellers.
2. Fly into an airport in a neighboring city
Flying into major airports is usually much cheaper. Keep this in mind when choosing a flight. For example, if you want to visit Nice, it’ll most likely be easier and cheaper to get a flight to Milan with a low-cost airline and then take the train to Nice.
3. Don’t forget about budget airlines, and search for discount flight tickets
Airlines do offer discounted flights from time to time. In order to keep up to date on bargains offered by airlines, sign up for their newsletters. Another good option is to consider low-cost budget carriers. But bear in mind, please: if you’re booking low cost flights, your airline may charge additional fees for luggage and meals. In this case, you can travel light with carry-on luggage only and bring some snacks onto the plane yourself.
4. The cheapest flights tend to be early in the morning or late at night.
Early morning or late-night flights are less popular, and therefore cheaper. Moreover, scheduling your flight for that time of day will also help you to spend some more fantastic days on the beach, particularly if your vacation is not too long.
5. Use public transport instead of sightseeing buses
You can discover the major sights of many European cities through the window of an ordinary city bus. For example, in Berlin, the public bus no.100 offers the cheapest sightseeing tours. For only 3 Euros, you’ll pass most of the city’s main points of interest: Alexanderplatz, Unter den Linden (a magnificent boulevard), Berlin Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate, the Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz, the Berlin zoo, and more. In Venice, the Alilaguna boat line runs public boat trips from the airport to the city center. The cost is 15 Euros per person one way, which is six times cheaper than using a sleek private boat.
6. Buy a museum card
A museum card is a personal card that allows free entrance to almost all museums for the duration of one, two or even more days. They’re available in all major cities of the world. If you want to visit a lot of museums in a short space of time, with reduced admission fees and shorter waiting lines, one of these cards is definitely worth buying.
7. Think about payment methods in advance
If you often make purchases in Euros, it’s better to use a MasterCard instead of Visa credit card. The reason for this is quite simple: unlike MasterCard, Visa always charges a currency conversion fee. However, in some countries paying by credit card is not an option. So, to avoid high exchange rates, it is better to exchange currency at home before your trip. And don’t forget to have some cash with you.
8. Fortify yourself with a good lunch
Cafés and restaurants usually get most of their visitors during dinner time. That is why many of them offer significant discounts for breakfast and lunch. And don’t forget about the golden rule: ’Eat your breakfast alone, share your lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to your enemy.’
9. Book a secret hotel room
This is another great option for those who want to save money and are not afraid to experiment. Secret hotel rooms are unsold hotel rooms that are sold at a reduced price, typically somewhere 30%-50% less than their usual list price. The only catch in the process is that you don’t know upfront which hotel you’re booking the room in. Secret deals like this can be found on the following websites: lastminute.com and hotwire.com
10. Use browser extensions to find active promo codes
In recent years, the online shopping industry has absolutely exploded, to the point that there are now many people who will only buy new products online. And when it comes to preparing for a vacation, buying travel-related stuff on the internet seems even more appealing. If you like online shopping, the Honey browser extension is something you definitely need. Just install it and this small program will help you to see all the coupons and sales available for a store.
11. Try the local cuisine without going to an expensive restaurant
Do you like trying the national dishes of the countries you visit? If so, check hotwire.com for budget-friendly, delicious meals cooked by the locals. This service is the best way to meet new people, make new friends and try out new cuisines.
12. Install travel apps and online maps on your smartphone
Search for the apps and maps that can be used offline, without an internet connection. Some of them can even replace a real tour guide.
13. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts and complementary services
For instance, you can negotiate room tariffs in the case of hotel bookings or ask for a free transfer from the airport to the city centre if such services are included in the cost of the ticket. And don’t forget to haggle (especially if you’re in an East Asian country): by doing so, you can cut the thing’s original price nearly in half.
14. Prepare for the trip in advance
While spontaneous travel can be a wonderful and exciting thing, it’s not the way to save money. In fact, you can keep costs down if you do a little planning in advance. Plan your transfer from the airport, learn about free museum exhibits, read the reviews of the local restaurants — this will all definitely help you reduce your travel-related expenses.
15. Vacation with friends
Those people who travel alone tend to pay 10-50 percent more for accommodation. If you head to Asia with 3-4 of your friends and plan to stay there for a long time, the chances are you’ll be able to rent a luxurious villa for a small amount of money.
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