Travel Cheap Tips
People dependably ask how I have the cash to go as much as I do. Well here are a couple of privileged insights, my companions! Ideally you can gain from a couple of my mix-ups and advantage from some of my tips!
1. The conspicuous route : go on spending aircrafts. When I went around Southeast Asia, Air Asia, Jetstar and Tiger were madly shabby – and I’m talking $65 flights from Bali to Phuket. I couldn’t express how much the expression “you get what you pay for” applies to these, be that as it may, yet they [usually] got us where we expected to go.
2. We booked every single hotel after first reviewing them on tripadvisor.com. This website is absolutely essential to get the best value.
3. HAGGLE. This obviously can only be done in some countries but it’s possible to pay $25 instead of the advertised $75 to spend the day white water rafting in Bali with transportation, all equipment and lunch included. Just see the advertised price as a suggestion and you’ll probably end up paying half that amount, at most. Don’t be afraid to be ballsy, they love taking advantage of foreigners.
4. Get a little bit of exercise – since it’s usually free and it’s good for you, duh. Go on hikes and check out the natural beauty in every country. Walk places instead of taking cabs/buses and absorb your surroundings. Go jogging on the beach. Swim in the ocean.
5. Do a little bit of research. A lot of cities will have free festivals (Melbourne had at least one a month) or free museums (the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand is AMAZING. The colossal squid is out of control.) Research how far your hotel is from the airport & the best way to get there – a quick Google search can turn your $80 cab ride into a [slightly-longer] $4 bus ride. Research if tipping is the custom so you don’t unnecessarily tip your servers in Australia who are already making $25/$30 an hour.
6. Use public transportation. I come from California where the public transport system is essentially non-existent in most cities so everyone has a car. AKA walking down dark, shady subways to catch a train with creepy crackheads shouting obscenities at innocent passer byers did NOT seem appealing. However, how can you argue with $56 a MONTH for unlimited use of the bus, tram & train in Australia (MyKi is essential)– as opposed to $60 a week spent on gas. Public transport may not be the most convenient or the easiest alternative, but it definitely will save you ridiculous amounts of money. Or just get a bicycle and you’re being even more eco-friendly.
7. Don’t check luggage!! This is important for several reasons: First of all, you will save HUNDREDS of dollars. It’s anywhere from $25-$50 to check luggage so you can do the math if you’re catching a lot of flights. Learn what the essentials are so you also don’t need to drag around a ton of luggage when travelling.
8. Pay attention to exchange rates. Try to get good rates on different currencies and get it before you go to that country. Call banks and see if they have the currency you need. If the rate is good, get enough for the entire time you’ll be there. This will also help you budget your money because you’ll only have an allocated amount you’re supposed to spend in each country. (Don’t exchange money at airports, the rates are usually terrible.)
9. Get a Charles Schwab bank account or one that will also let you withdraw money on any ATM with no fees. Charles Schwab is an example and you can use any ATM in the world. That means no $5 fees every time you run out of money at a bar and need to withdraw a little bit of cash.
10. Groupons/Scoopons, Living Socials, etc. Superb way to find hidden gems while getting awesome deals. These were especially helpful in Australia where there are hundreds upon hundreds of dining/drinking options that are also twice as expensive as in America. Sign up and get a couple emails a day to get a 3 course meal for $15, a scuba certification class for $150 or a 5 night stay in Fiji for $200. Need I say more?
11. Pregame. I know what you’re thinking and NO – you are not too old to pregame. As much fun as it is to spend $18 on every single cocktail while out each night, try drinking a bit before so you only need to buy a few social drinks at the bar (I’ve perfected this strategy during my college days). Unless, of course, you’re in the Philippines where beer is sometimes 80 cents.
13. Use Craigslist or Gumtree or whatever site where people can buy & sell essentially anything. I used it to buy a used bicycle and enjoyed dozens of amazing bike rides around Melbourne. Before moving away, I posted it back on Gumtree and sold it for the same amount I bought it for. BOOM.
14. Eat the local food. More often than not, those slightly dodgy-looking hole-in-the-wall places will be the most delicious, authentic food you can get. And also the cheapest. We did make the mistake of eating dog in Thailand (which I would never ever EVER recommend) but it’s all part of the experience, right?
15. Negotiate with cab drivers BEFORE getting in the car (if they refuse to use a meter, which is almostalways around Southeast Asia). They can spot tourists a mile away and would LOVE to up their normal fee by 300%. See Tip #3.
16. Blog-stalk. I love reading people’s blogs but one of the more practical benefits is that you can get a first hand take on other people’s experiences traveling where you’re about to go. I blog-stalked like crazy before leaving for Korea and thankfully brought a sufficient amount of deodorant as I was advised since it’s a rare find in this country.
17. If you’re like me and over pack and then also buy way too many clothes abroad, you’ll have to figure out how to get all of your stuff back home. We debated sending a package back but this can be pricey (we’re talking $200 for a 30 pound package from Australia – US). Instead, we packed everything in a giant box and checked an additional bag at the airport. It was still $100 but at least we wouldn’t have to wait weeks for it to arrive. The fun part is lugging around 4 carry-ons and 5 checked items between the two of us.