Saving up for the relaxing vacation of your dreams can be difficult, and sometimes you just need to get away. Having a low budget doesn’t have to dash your vacation dreams, it means that you need to be more conscious about your spending, and seek out ways of travelling internationally for less.
After all, spending a lot of money on your family vacation doesn’t guarantee a better experience than the person who’s more frugal with their spending. In fact, following a few simple money-saving tips when travelling internationally could make your next journey more enjoyable. The following tips will give you a few helpful ideas to consider the next time you’re looking to explore the globe, without breaking the bank.
1. Understand Your Money
When you’re travelling, one of the first things you’ll need to do is check out the exchange rates for the currencies in the countries you’re planning on visiting. Not only do you need to compare exchange rates at different locations to ensure that you get the best deal, but you also need to have a good understanding of the new money that you’ll be using, so that you’re constantly aware of how much you’re spending. You can download apps that will help you convert prices from foreign currencies into your own, and since you’re bound to have your phone with you at all times anyway, these can ensure that you stick to your budget, and don’t get a shock when you return home to find you’ve emptied your bank account.
At the same time, make sure that you have physical money on you at all times. It’s much easier to keep track of how much you’re spending when you’re using cold hard cash, than when you have the freedom to whip a card out at any given moment. Similarly, be sure that you inform your bank that you’ll be leaving the country in case you do need to use your card for a purchase, so that they don’t shut down your account when you attempt to spend.
2. Have a Prepaid International Calling Plan
These days, it’s difficult to imagine leaving the house — never mind the country — without your smartphone safely in your pocket. How can you research the best tourist spots without your cell on hand, or get in contact with someone if you get lost? What’s more, how would you share your incredible vacation photos with your friends instantly over social media? Taking your phone with you when you travel abroad makes sense, as it allows you to stay in touch with friends, family, and work colleagues, as well as get local information on the move. However, paying for international calls without a plan could rack up a huge bill.
Fortunately, prepaid international plans give you the opportunity to access the cheapest rates when making calls from international destinations. You may find that it’s helpful to compare the different carriers that offer prepaid plans before making a decision on which is best for you, and it’s often advisable to check that your plan extends to the country you’ve chosen to travel to.
3. Plan Your Trip for the Right Time of Year
Picking the perfect month, season, and day for your trip can have a huge impact on the amount you can expect to pay. In fact, you can reduce your expenses by up to 20% if you select a flight that departs on a Thursday, and returns on a Monday. The chances are that if you work full time in the U.S, you’ll struggle to get vacation days at the perfect time, as most of them occur around the holidays, or you’re forced to take them at a certain time. However, if you do have a chance to pick your date, do your research before you commit to anything.
Remember, most airlines will offer discounted tickets during the month of September, but keep an eye out for the “shoulder season”, between high and low season for travel companies. Depending on your destination, any season can be a shoulder season. For instance, Europe’s highest season lasts between May and September, but if you buy tickets in October you’ll get fewer crowds, and cheaper airline prices.
4. Stock up on Groceries
One of the biggest expenses that travelers have to deal with is the cost of food, but you can save some serious cash if you find a local grocery store and stock up on easy breakfast options, snacks, and options for picnics. If you’re renting a car, check out what’s available nearby and stock up on as many groceries as you can fit into your hotel room refrigerator. Don’t be afraid to buy bulk bottles of water to take with you while you’re exploring too, as this can save you a lot of money when you’re travelling close to expensive bistros and cafes.
If you’re with your family or friends, bundle some of the items that you get at the store into a bag and create a last-minute picnic. Not only is this a great way to save you some time because you won’t have to spend an hour searching for somewhere everyone wants to eat, but it will also save you money. Not to mention, you get to enjoy your lunch and the weather at the same time.
5. Make Use of Available Transportation
Another great way to save money when you’re travelling, is to look for the cheapest transportation options in your chosen destination. After all, if you can avoid renting a car, you can save plenty of money on the cost of the vehicle, and the insurance. Walking is always a great method from a cost-effective perspective, but don’t forget that there are often plenty of local ways to get around to. Trams, trains, and busses are everywhere throughout the world, and certain destinations even offer incredible discounts if you know what to look for.
For example, you can save money if you use your Oyster card in London during non-peak hours. Look into the available transportation in the country you’re visiting before you go, and learn as much as you can about the savings you can access by purchasing in advance, or travelling at certain times.
6. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment
Visiting a major city doesn’t mean that you have to be caught in the tourist traps and spend all of your money seeing “popular” destinations. In fact, many destinations offer a variety of free entertainment options depending on the time of year you choose to visit, but again you’ll need to dedicate some time to research if you’re going to find the best deals. Cities such as London are packed with free things to do during your trip — as almost every single museum is free. On the other hand, if you were visiting Paris, you can check out the Louvre for free on the first Sunday of every month.
Staying resourceful and planning ahead can help you save a lot of cash when you travel. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for saving money while traveling internationally?
Contributed By: Joey Tomina is the President of Rushstar Wireless and is nationally recognized as one of the top leaders in the wireless industry for his work with the leading carriers, MVNO’s, & payment processors in nationwide sales, distribution, and operational development. He has 15 years of executive sales & management experience with an emphasis in direct and indirect market development and distribution.