Travel has been a part of the human experience for many, many centuries. To say that travel in the past was a pastime exclusive to the rich would do some injustice to the millions of pilgrims that traversed the world visiting the various holy sites and shrines each year. But it is true that advances in technology have made travel easier and more affordable than ever before. Despite these leaps forward however, it can still be expensive, and it can be very easy to go over-budget very quickly on a trip abroad. To help you save money, here are some of Continental’s top tips for the traveller on a budget.
Depending on where you plan on going, the cost of your flights could make up the biggest expenditure you make on your trip. Needless to say, booking your plane tickets as far in advance as possible will likely save you a fair deal, but it is also worth noting where you are purchasing your tickets from. Flying with a low-cost airline like WowAir (en.wowair.ca), Primera Air (primeraair.ca) or Jetlines (jetlines.ca) could save you as much as a few hundred dollars, sometimes more!
2. Pack Light
So you decided to save some money and book with a low-cost airline. Just be careful they don’t get you at the airport! Many of these airlines make up there costs by charging through the roof for luggage. Generally you will only be permitted one personal item with dimensions no greater than 42x32x25cm. After that you’ll have to pay for any additional items.
Don’t be disheartened though! Opting to wear layers on the flight, and limiting yourself to a couple versatile outfits, will help save you space in your bag. Leave the laptop at home if you can, and instead of bulky and heavy books, invest in a Kindle! Making these choices won’t just save you money but will make your bag a whole lot lighter to carry around.
While in North America we don’t have as much experience with hostels as our counterparts in Europe and elsewhere, this is an area that could save you big time. Hotels can be expensive, and hostels not only offer a cheaper place to rest your head at night, they also provide a social element that hotels are sorely lacking in – and lets face it, meeting new people from around the world is what travel is all about!
But you saw that horror movie and hostels don’t seem safe? Nonsense. Just be sure to do your research. Sites like hostelworld.com and booking.com can be very helpful in finding a place that’s right for you. Just check pictures and, more importantly, read reviews. If after all that, you get there and you aren’t feeling comfortable, you can always find somewhere else. Sure, you might lose your deposit – but better that than staying in a sketchy place that might get you sick or make you feel unsafe.
Travelling in a group or staying for longer? Airbnb can also be a great option.
4. Booking in Advance
Now it really depends on where you are travelling to, but booking your accommodations and transportation in advance, especially in places like Europe, can really save you some coin. In regions like South-East Asia however, you needn’t bother. While it’s always a good idea to look into these logistics before you visit a destination, so that you’re aware of your options, hostels and other places to stay are generally about the same price at the front desk as they are online months before.
Even if the price does go up a bit, chances are it’ll still be incredibly affordable – and it’s far safer to see for yourself whether you want to stay there before you commit to paying a deposit.
5. Transportation Passes
If you’re planning on even just a couple of days in a city, it’s worth looking into what transportation passes they might have on offer. A lot of metropolitan areas have in recent years begun offering all-inclusive passes for all public transport within their jurisdiction. Many of these programs provide you with anywhere between 2 and 7 day passes, that can make getting around a whole lot easier and cheaper than buying the one-time passes or taking a taxi or Uber. Plus, they allow you to experience the city in which you are staying on a much more authentic level than simply taking an Uber everywhere. Be sure to check online before you travel as well, oftentimes discounts are on offer for purchasing these plans ahead of time.
6. City Passes
In addition to the transportation cards, it’s worth looking into whether your destination has a city pass program in place. If you are planning on visiting more than a couple of museums or attractions while you are there, buying one of these passes can be of incredible value – saving you a lot of money! Look into this at the same time as your transportation pass, you might get a deal if you buy both at the same time.
7. Avoid Tourist Traps
Whether it’s for food, souvenirs, or whatever else, one of the best rules of thumb when visiting a foreign country is to avoid spending money in popular tourist zones. Prices in these areas are usually heavily marked up – so if you’re feeling hungry or looking for the perfect souvenir to bring back, try holding off until you’re in a less well-trodden area. Chances are the food will be better and more authentic, without the same pain to your wallet; and as most of the souvenirs sold in the tourist traps are cheaply made trinkets, you might find something actually worth buying. If you don’t you’ll probably see the same stuff at the next tourist spot, so why not take the risk?
If you’re planning on touring around more than just one city, it might be worth looking into the local and regional buses. Sure within regions like Europe and South-East Asia flights can be quite cheap, but if you have the time buses can also be a great option. Oftentimes even cheaper than flying, travel by bus is also a far better method of actually seeing the country you are visiting. With less carbon emissions on average than planes, choosing the bus can be a good way of minimizing your carbon footprint while travelling as well.
9. Cash is King
One of the greatest tips we can stress is to look up your credit and debit card policies for spending abroad before you travel. With ATM fees, currency conversion fees, and other hidden charges that might be incurred for using your cards, cash is one of the safer ways to make purchases while overseas. Purchasing the currencies in the amount you’ll need ahead of time will protect you later on from the unseen costs sustained from hidden fees and exorbitant conversion rates. Just be sure to handle your cash carefully, don’t keep it all in one place and invest in a money belt to protect yourselves from theft.
10. Save Money On Currency Conversions
To leave off on a note related to the last, do your research before buying any foreign currencies for your trip. Banks charge high rates on currency conversions, and the currency exchange booths at the airports are even worse! Check out Continental Currency Exchange instead. We offer the guaranteed best exchange rates, and with 19 branches across Ontario there’s a good chance there’s a location near you!
Stay informed. Stay Current.