Tips/tricks for traveling on a budget
Here it is!
So, I’m not sure if this is the best way to organize all of the information but I basically have it divided under three categories: Traveling in general, banking/money, living accommodations, food, misc. tips for Spain. I really hope this helps you guys out!
Also, I will come back to this post later today or tomorrow to add more things that I thought of on the flight back. Enjoy this for now! :)
Traveling in General:
- Always carry an extra reusable bag with you because you never know when you might need it.
- Change your location to buy cheaper flights, car rental, etc.
- Example: If you are renting a car in Italy, make sure you are in the italian website of the company (the link should end in “it”).
- Best site to buy cheap flights? skyscanner.es
- Flights tend to be cheaper on certain days of the week ex: Tuesday/Monday are way cheaper vs Friday/ Sunday
- Buy your tickets either really in advance or buy them right before a trip
- Learn to be flexible with schedule.
- Stay the extra night in a country if it is cheaper to fly out the next day or leave the country a day early if its cheaper to leave early.
- If your flight is leaving really early in the morning, sleep at the airport instead of getting a hostel, hotel, motel, etc. Not only will you save money from not paying for a place, you will also avoid the hassle of getting to the airport early. Getting to the airport really early in the morning or really late at night can be very costly if you have to pay for a taxi (public transportation in some cities starts running late-ish in the morning compared to the time you have to check in).
- If you are staying at a hotel, motel or hostel, try to look for one that has free breakfast and then load up when you get breakfast. Don’t steal because the workers are always watching and you’ll end up just embarrassing yourself.
- Do a flight comparison, always. If its cheaper to buy single tickets rather than in a package, do that BUT always compare prices.
- When I travel, I never pay for a bus, metro or taxi unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- You can save money by not paying for those things and you also get to see a city better when you walk around…even when you are lost.
- The tourist office of any city always has free maps, so go there for a map! BUT try to avoid doing things they recommend because they usually recommend things that are super expensive and really touristy.
- Carry a reusable water bottle so you don’t end up paying for water all the time.
- In Spain, you can drink water from any fountain that says ‘agua portable’ and I usually refill mine in the bathroom sink of a bar OR I simply ask the employee behind the bar to fill it for me (only if I’ve ordered something).
- If you have been looking at prices for plane tickets too long, the prices might start to go up. I’m convinced some sites just bump the prices after they figure out that you are interested.
- Travel in a group because it can be cheaper (e.g. splitting gas money, car expenses, group tickets on metro, group packages) but if there is a place that you want to really visit, DO it on your own!
- Leave behind the GPS, use an actual map! Trust me, you will see so much more of a city that way and you will also get to know a city better.
- You can do all of the touristy things, but also try to figure out what the locals are into. Ask a friend, relative, etc. for recommendations before you visit the place.
- Have an idea of what you want to see in a city but don’t make it all about the plan either. Diverge from the plan once in a while to do things/see things you hadn’t planned on.
- Don’t buy too many souvenirs, a post card is good enough.
- Take a lot of photos, maybe even too many. Selfies are a MUST!
- Don’t eat at places that advertise their food with pictures, usually that type of advertising is geared towards tourists and in my experience, that type of food sucks!
- Split meals with a friend in order to divide the cost in half.
- Buy coffee, it’s good and usually very cheap in Europe.
- Stick with beer when it comes to alcoholic drinks, it’s cheap and you will feel happy but not drunk.
- Always guard your keys, always.
- Hostels and car rental companies will charge you extra money if you loose the keys.
- Check all of the damage on a car before you rent it or sign the paper work for it.
- If you want to come to Europe, learn how to drive a stick shift, you’ll save TONS of money!
- Some highways in Europe are heavy on tolls, find out which ones they are and avoid them!
- A good camera is nice to have but you don’t need a top quality camera either, in my opinion. My iPhone has been great for taking photos and it’s super convenient too.
- Guard your belongings on the public transportation system but don’t be a freak about it!
- Save money before you start traveling. I mean it.
- Don’t buy clothes, you will want to but try your best not to.
- Also, if you are traveling with a friend, share your clothes. Both of you don’t need to bring a little black dress!
- Arrive to the airport early enough to not miss your flight….having to pay for another flight is the worst!
- If the vender tells you ‘oh, I don’t usually sell this one thing that you are interested in, but I sell it just for you’ get out of there! I can guarantee you that you will be charged at least twice its value.
- Get to know the public transportation system of the country/area you will be in. You don’t have to use it but you should know the basics of how it functions.
- Avoid wearing expensive, flashy or designer clothes because they will do nothing but draw negative attention to you.
- Consider exchange rates before you travel because they can either work out in your favor or hurt you a little.
- Keep track of your money. If a friend owes you money, kindly remind him/her to return it. At first, it might feel awkward and stingy, but you have to think that it’s your money and there are better things you can do with it. Sorry, friend.
- Only take out just enough cash to survive the trip and then don’t take out more + pay for everything with only that cash.
- Select a bank that won’t charge you crazy amounts of money for withdrawals.
- I have Charles Schwab and I don’t have to pay anything for withdrawals.
- Also, I never use airport currency exchange services because I just think the commissions are too high. Instead, notify your bank that you will be traveling and will be taking out money in those locations so that way the bank does not freeze your account.
- Hostels: I personally don’t like staying at hostels because I have a crazy fear of strangers sleeping in the same room as me BUT the few times I’ve done, it was not bad at all. Both times we were a large enough group to get a room to ourselves, so that was definitely nice!
- Airbnb: Now, this is site I LOVE! I’ve stayed in places where we had the whole apartment and places where I had the room to myself in someone’s house. I’ve never stayed in a place where I had to share the room, I will not do that. I definitely recommend this site.
- Hotels: I stayed in a hotel in Dublin and that was niceeeee but it hurt my bank account very badly. I will not be doing that again.
- Couchsurfing: Never done it and won’t do it.
- The cheapest way? Ask a friend, relative, family friend, or a friend of a friend’s to let you stay for a little while. Just remember to clean up after yourself and to not get in the way of your host.
- Pack a lunch if you are visiting a city. I know it’s really tempting to try the local good, which you should but try to also make sure you are eating enough but not paying too much for it. Does that make sense? If not, let me know and I can explain better.
- Always, always, always make sure you eat your veggies and drink enough water. Constipation is the worst thing ever!
- If you do decide to have dinner/lunch at a nice place, EAT the bread and ask for more, then pick the cheapest item on the menu.
- Note: Usually the bread is free BUT in certain countries (e.g. Portugal) or big cities (Cadiz, Spain) they might charge for it, so don’t be embarrassed to ask before you start eating.
Recommendations for traveling within Spain
- Blah blah car- check to see if there is a blah blah car trip listed for your area before you pay tons of money for bus or train.
- Avoid highways with tolls because they are very costly, trust me. There is a map on the internet somewhere that shows all of the freeways of Spain with tolls, so use that.
- Tapas: Spain is famous for them, but remember they are only free in the south of Spain (and maybe the very north). You can have a whole meal by going tapa hopping.
- Going out: I don’t know about big cities but smaller cities usually have Thursday nights free of charge if you enter before a certain hour. I hate to admit it but I’ve used the 'I don’t understand what you are saying because I’m a foreigner’ trick to get into places for free.
- Once in a while, let a guy buy you a free drink.
- Split your food because usually the food portions in Spain are pretty decent size so you can always split a meal and even enjoy a nice glass of wine or a cold beer with it.