Travel is possible no matter how much money you have or don’t have. Traveling isn’t defined by going to super fancy international destinations; it’s just making an effort to see a new place, try new things, and meet new people.
Here are some of the best travel tips to apply to any trip anywhere in the world. You can get up and go, no matter your budget or destination!
Travel Tips: Planning Your Trip
1 – Determine Your Budget
This is probably one of the most essential travel tips and the first thing you should do as it can change where you’re able to go. Once you calculate this, you can decide where to go and for how long. Then, after you’ve picked your destination (see #2), estimate how much you will have to spend each day.
The cost of hotels and airfare occurs upfront and is unchanged. However, daily spending can be very variable, and if you aren’t aware of the cost of goods in the country you’re visiting, you may spend way more than you anticipate.
Break down expenses by category and your corresponding budget for each:
- Transportation (if needed)
- Tours/activities (if not pre-purchased)
You can calculate your travel budget for each category by first figuring out the average cost of lunch and dinner for each day, multiplied by the total days on your trip (assuming your breakfast is provided by the hotel). Round the sum up to the nearest whole number to account for unanticipated alterations that may occur.
The more prepared you are regarding your expenses, the less likely you are to overspend. You can look up the cost of eating out at your destination online. I recommend researching some restaurants and checking out their menus to see what you’ll be dealing with.
2 – Choose Your Destination Wisely
Where you go largely depends on your budget (see #1). A new “it spot” pops up every few months or so, and everyone wants to/has to go there. However, don’t get sucked into this popularity contest, especially if it’s a destination you cannot afford. There are so many untapped destinations around the world to choose from that are equally fabulous.
3 – Timing Is Everything
Travel during the off-season; finding cheap flights will be much easier, and prices for everything, in general, will be lower. A quick Google search can help you answer this question for different areas.
4 – Plan Ahead
Give yourself time to save, to find cheap flights and the best deals. Shop around online, read blogs, and ask friends for recommendations. Also, pre-plan a few activities. This way, you avoid paying full price when you get there; paying ahead of time reduces the costs you accrue while traveling. Viator and Tripadvisor are excellent resources for this.
Check out this post on planning a trip. Many of these recommendations apply to any trip, including solo or with friends/family as well.
Time spent planning can allow you other ways to save. For instance, check in with your credit card companies and see if they charge a foreign transaction fee. The ones that do don’t use them!
Many countries require a visa. If you are planning on going to one, make sure you find out their visa process. You’ll often find that if you get your visa beforehand (versus at the airport), it will cost you less. Other times, you’ll see that you only have one option to get it when you arrive at the airport. In which case, this is helpful information so you can be prepared for that additional cost after you land!
5 – Promotions
Sign up for promotions e.g. Scotts cheap flights or Next Vacay. Doing so will get you email updates regarding cheap flight deals. Your dates may be relegated to whatever the airlines dictate, but this is a great resource if you’re flexible. Also, keep an eye out for deals on airline websites. Many often offer discount ticket prices for different dates.
Sign up for a free trial! See if it works for you!
6 – Maximize Travel Points
If you have a travel credit card that allows the use of points for travel, then review flight deals through them. In addition, once you book with a great card, you can use the points you earn towards future spending or trips! A win-win.
Don’t forget about the airlines that you frequently use already. You may have frequent flier miles accumulated to use if not for the whole round trip, but at least one way!
7 – Skip The Middleman
When booking flights and hotels, book directly through their websites. They often offer better ideas or perks. Also, if you ever have to change or cancel, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of an intermediary.
8 – Hotel Location Matters
Nothing is worse than getting a cheap hotel and then realizing that you’re in the middle of nowhere and now need to take a taxi or some other form of transport to get anywhere. It shoots your travel budget in the foot. It’s better to spend a little bit more per night if your location is central and you can avoid the extra cost of daily transportation.
One way to figure out the best location is to Google map the location of hotels in your destination city and see where they are related to popular attractions. Don’t forget about Air BnB and VRBO options! Sometimes you’ll get a better deal in a better location. This is also a great option if traveling in groups.
9 – Travel Packing Tips
Taking a large suitcase abroad can be costly. Check-in fees if you take local flights in your destination country, trunk fees (cabs can charge for putting large bags in their trunk!), and the general all-around headache of toting everything with you, can add up.
Instead, pack frugally and take only a carry-on and backpack. Also, take a collapsible bag as an extra. On your way home, open up this second bag and fill it up! Since international check-in is free, you can then check it in. It’s a great way to take extra space without the excess weight.
Travel Tips For When You’re There
10 – Meals
Hopefully, you have a hotel with a complimentary breakfast (or snack)—a free meal!
Some of the best restaurants and cuisines have been the Mom & Pop hole-in-the-walls you randomly find while wandering around a city. You don’t need a fancy spot to get good food. Ask local people like your hotel concierge or tour guide for recommendations on popular local eateries. Always ask to read the menu before sitting down to dine; you’ll ensure the food choices look good, and you’ll be able to scan the prices to ensure that it’s within budget.
Depending on where you are, the street food options may also be the best. These are often much cheaper and give you a true sense of local flavor.
11 – Avoid Tourist Traps
While the American dollar is pretty strong around the world, and paying an extra dollar or two doesn’t seem like a big deal in a developing country, those extra dollars add up quickly. Avoid spending the extra by avoiding tourist traps.
Do your research before you go and ask your hotel concierge what to expect. They can often advise which taxi companies to avoid or which shopping areas are the most honest, etc.
12 – Look For Free Things To Do
A lot of this information can be found through the local tourism office (or tourism site for that particular place). You can usually find budget-friendly things to do, for instance, free walking tours, which are a great way to experience the local culture.
Some General International Travel Tips to Keep in Mind
Take extra copies of your passport (or even spare passport photos can help in the event you need to get a new one made)
Take a small combination lock for your suitcases to keep everything locked and safe in your hotel room. Not all areas offer a safe, so this is the next best option to keep your valuables and important items away from prying hands and eyes.
Many airlines claim to give you the best travel insurance. However, it’s an added cost that rarely pays off. Instead, focus on health insurance coverage, or if there’s a small plan, you can purchase through your current provider before you go. This is especially helpful if you’re going to more remote areas with limited access or if the likelihood of injury or illness might be higher.
Traveling can be expensive. However, the cost of travel should not limit your ability to do so. Follow these tips and tricks to find the best deals, and take advantage of the perks available. You just have to look for them!