Welcome back Fehmeen today, our occasional guest posting friend who mixes money-saving with humor over at her blog, Loans and Lifestyle. Thanks, Fehmeen!
Vacations are exciting for the heart but depressing for the wallet. The truth is, there are hundreds of ways to splurge when on holiday, especially when visiting another country with a more valuable currency. Luckily, there are also lots of ways to keep your spending in control, and here are a few promising tips that you can follow once you’ve reached your dream destination.
1. When Shopping Till You Drop
While carrying a credit card on vacation makes good sense (to meet unexpected money requirements) it’s better to cover as many transactions as possible with cash. Since impulse buying is pretty common during this time, your expenses can quickly add up, and even though it’s easier to swipe the card, you often end up spending more than you would if you paid directly out of your wallet.
The same problem arises when your host country’s currency is more valuable than your home currency. Unless you convert prices to your local currency, you are likely to think everything is less expensive even if the reality is opposite. Another problem related to exchange rates is getting the best possible rate. Tourists end up losing a lot of money during the conversion process if they don’t hunt for the best deals at ATMs, exchange houses or banks.
2. When Talk-Talk-Talking Away
Cellphone companies are happiest when you carry their SIMs (mobile phone connections) to other countries because they get to charge the smithereens out of you. It’s usually best to buy a new connection in your host country because call and data charges will be significantly lower than those on your old package. Make full use of free messaging and chatting applications on smartphones. They have the potential to save you big bucks.
3. When Getting Around
A friend of mine recently travelled to London and had an unpleasant afternoon trying to find his way to another friend’s house. He was using the underground tube – a very well-developed and very complex system that takes some time getting used to if you’re visiting from anther continent. Getting lost on public transport systems wastes time as well as lots of money in unnecessary tickets – let’s not forget the stress bonus. Before purchasing your tickets and boarding these trains, fully understand the route you’re taking, which connecting trains to take, which platforms to exit, and so on.
Unless, of course, you’re in the mood for exploring, then be my guest and enjoy getting lost. 🙂
4. Skip the Cab to Lower the Tab
If you’re in a country with a good railway infrastructure, using a taxi to get around should be your second choice. Taxis are always more expensive because they charge you for the convenience of taking your directly to your destination, as opposed to trains that make several stops along the way. Another friend of mine ended up paying $110 for a 45 minute taxi ride that would have cost no more than $10 had he taken the train – it was late at night and there were no alternatives, but it goes to show how important proper planning is when on holiday.
5. Regard the Travel Card
These smartcards are electronic tickets that let you travel on public transport systems for more than one journey so you can take advantage of bulk pricing discounts. These cards are more prominent in Europe, and features vary from country to country, but overall, travel cards are much cheaper compared to paying cash for individual tickets.
6. In the mood for food?
You may be surprised at how expensive it is to keep your stomach full when traveling. Visiting budget fast food corners at each meal time is unhealthy and taste-bud-unfriendly, but regularly going to restaurants can be very expensive. It’s best to cook your own food if you’re renting a holiday apartment. Purchase a few cans of processed food, some pita bread, rice, sausages, and basic spices, you’re good to go for a couple of meals.
If, however, you’re paying for a ‘Bed and Breakfast’, serve yourself a king’s morning meal and head out for the day. Many travel blogs say lunch menus are less expensive than dinner menus, so eat light at night. Or simply go out and enjoy some street food the country or city is famous for (with fingers crossed to prevent any dangerous bacteria from entering your stomach).
Lastly, if you’re staying at a hotel, avoid the minibar because they charge you double or triple the market price. On the other hand, nobody will kick you if sneak off to the market to purchase refill-items you already consumed from the minibar.
7. Show-off your student-status or credit card
Many tourist spots offer special discounts to students and senior citizens so be sure to carry the relevant identification when on vacation. Theme parks, national parks, museums, and galleries are just some of the places that skim a few dollars off the entry fee (if not waive the entire amount). Similarly, some credit card companies have discount arrangements with eateries, retailers, cinemas, and public parks, so go ahead and pay for the ticket with your card (but remember to repay the credit card bill before the month ends).
As mentioned earlier, these are frugal choices you can make after you reach your destination, but there are also lots of ways to save money before you begin travelling. If you still end up going over-budget, no need to fret. You did your best to curb wasteful spending and now deserve to relish the sweet memories of your vacation.
Fehmeen blogs at Loans and Lifestyle – a site with semi-amusing articles about moving away from debt and improving one’s lifestyle.