The art of traveling low budget goes beyond finding cheap airfares, affordable accommodation and transportation.
When I started thinking of where most money goes when I travel, one big spending factor popped up immediately and I am not ashamed to admit: Food. I might be traveling cheap and be able to spend hours searching for the best, affordable hostel, but when it comes to chose what I put in my body, I like to take irrational (but mostly delicious) decisions.
Now I am not saying that it is bad to treat yourself once in a while. The problem is when it becomes a habit. Let me show you how to indulge and enjoy local cuisine, without blowing your budget.
Getting there – Saving on airfares
Saving big on accommodation
Transportation – Getting around for little (or no) money
Eating – Make smarter choices
Currency and Credit Cards
Communication – Cut the cost
Activities that don´t cost an arm and a leg
Make money on the road
Lets make your dream come true. Here we go!
The Ultimate Low Budget Travel Guide
Part 2: Eating, Currency, Credit Cards and Communication
Eating – Make smarter choices
Bring your snacks – Easy one. Because the only thing that sucks more than airport food is airplane food. Not just prize wise…
Don’t wait until you’re too hungry – Don’t wait until you are starving, you´ll never make a smart (and cheap) decision. You’ll probably just choose the most convenient option regardless of price. Instead, give yourself some time to shop around before your stomach starts rumbling.
Follow the Six-Block-Rule – That is, never eat within six blocks of a major tourist sight. The food is double the price and half as good. Sites like Yelp! and Foursquare can help you find restaurants with better prices!
Enjoy the local version – Consider trying their local beer, coffee or food. You might be surprised at how great and cheap it is. The trick is to talk to the locals and ask them where they like to eat. Street food and small single-dish restaurants have often the tastiest, much cheaper food!
Plan your meals – Figure out where you will eat! This is not just good for your wallet, but your stomach too since you will probably find economical restaurants with great food without wasting lots of time and ending up „hangry“ at an overpriced restaurant with mediocre food. Use apps like Happycow, to learn about good, cheap restaurants in the area!
Eat more at lunch than dinners – Fancy lunches are often much less expensive than dinners. If you eat a big breakfast, have a decent lunch and a light dinner, it is not only great for your wallet, but also healthier.
Meals carryover – Want a breakfast that cost nothing? Ask for some bread to-go at the restaurant the night before.
Go to the grocery store – Even if you are away from home, chances are high that there are grocery stores where you are traveling to. It’s worth it to take a trip there and get snacks, water, and everything you need for your trip since hotels overcharge.
Cook your meals — The best way to save money on the road is to cook your own meals. If you are Couchsurfing or staying at an Airbnb, your host will probably have a kitchen, as do many hostels. And if not, take a container and silverware and make oatmeal, sandwiches and salads on the go. Be smart! You don´t need to eat out every meal and a romantic picnic at the park or the beach will not ruin your trip. There is really no reason to be spending lots of money on food!
Planning to go on the trip of your life and trying to save every penny to make the dream come true?! My “How to save money for traveling” guide lets you in on all the secrets you need to know!
Have a picnic – Pick up a variety of fruits, veggies and bread from a farmers market in the city you’re visiting. It’s so much cheaper than a restaurant, and just as fun!
Currency and Credit Cards
Watch the currency – If you never really had a preference in travel destinations, consider the exchange rate when you travel. This sometimes makes the biggest difference. Take advantage of countries with great exchange rates or down economies. Greece is still Greece, and Japan, Russia, Australia, and India have all seen their currencies drop compared to the dollar, making them more affordable. While the prices in these places haven’t fallen, they have become cheaper thanks to the fall in currencies.
Always withdraw money, don´t exchange – Many exchange centers have very bad exchange rates so don’t go there. Search the internet to find out good places to get cash in the local currency. Your bank card will carry the best exchange rate. So bring as much cash as you feel comfortable with carrying around. Otherwise withdraw money from local ATM´s. But make sure you are using a bank card that reimburses all ATM fees – like Schwab or for the Germans: Deutsche Kreditbank.
Stop paying bank fees – There’s no reason to spend $3 every time you take out cash, or to pay 3% when you buy stuff abroad. You know, unless you like wasting money. Get a no-fee debit card and credit card. You can sign up for many credit cars online — but check with your local bank to see if it offers any no-fee cards, too.
Try using the local version of the same website – Due to the rapid change in currency rates, it could be much cheaper to book using the local currency. How do you do that? Go to the local version of the same website!
Communication – Not just for the digital nomads!
Get an unlocked phone – Using an unlocked smartphone lets you buy and use SIM cards in each country you go to, giving you local rates that are typically a fraction of what your provider wants to charge you. If that’s not for you, call your cell provider and ask about getting your phone unlocked — you may be able to do it for free or a small fee, especially if you’re off contract or close to it. Failing that, cheap but decent Android smartphones can be purchased unlocked for under $200 — which could easily be less than your roaming bill!
By the way: T-Mobile offers its subscribers text and data in 140-plus countries at no extra charge… This might be a good reason to change the provider.
Use apps to call and text – You’ll save even more money by making calls and sending text messages using apps rather than your carrier’s service. With Skype and the Facebook Messenger you can call your friends and family for free if they use the app too! To send text messages, get your friends on WhatsApp and message back and forth using Wi-Fi or cell data.
This was part 2 of the ULTIMATE LOW BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE! Check out Part 1 on how to save money on airfares, accommodation and transportation if you haven´t already!
You enjoyed this article or have more ideas on saving money while traveling? Then leave me a comment!
Cheers, and safe travels to you!