When you head abroad, it is amazing how many costs arise that you forgot to account for before you left. Whether it is unexpected airport fees or dreaded mobile roaming costs, there is always something that may catch you out. If you want to travel, but fear the costs, here are some clever ways to keep your trip within budget and to even save while you are abroad!
1. Bag yourself a bargain
Research your trip in advance. Most companies will have special offers, especially for last minute trips. Sign up to newsletters and keep an eye out for deals that may pop up. If you like to plan in advance, there are some advantages, often companies may put their prices up. Booking early may fix your trip at a more favourable rate.
2. Shop around for flights
There are lots of pitfalls that you can fall in when booking flights. Always research fully what extra fees there are. Some cheaper airlines charge for added extras such as extra baggage, making the overall cost more expensive. If you have flexibility, check on sites such as skyscanner, what ticket costs are throughout your departure month. Amazingly, there can be as much as a £500 price difference depending on the day you travel!
3. Avoid the rush
Typically, every destination has a peak season and more often than not this is during the school holidays. If you aren’t a student or a teacher, why not opt to avoid the busy season and go at a different time. You will find that costs will be much cheaper and there will be fewer crowds. Shoulder seasons are often a great time to travel – these tend to be the month either side of the busy period, such as September for classic summer destination. This means you will still get the summer sun you crave, but for half the cost!
4. Sleep while you travel
I love booking overnight flights. Firstly, it helps me to sleep better and to lessen the jet lag, but also because it ultimately saves me money. Arriving in the morning and leaving at night, gives you two extra days without the cost of accommodation.
5. Pack snacks
Depending on the airline you are travelling on, food is sometime not free. Cheaper airlines tend to charge a hefty fee for food and drink. There is nothing worse than sitting down on the plane next to someone munching away on something delicious. This can weaken your resolve and result in you spending over the odds for a packet of crisps and a tea. Pre-plan and pack a snack before you board the plane.
6. Beware data roaming
Could your love of sharing our holiday pics on Facebook and Snapchat lead to a colossal phone bill on your return? So many people get caught out with phone charges. Luckily, in Europe, unlimited date is now free, but elsewhere this is not the case. There are three solutions for this: 1) turn off your data roaming and use only WiFi 2) Buy a local SIM 3) buy a bolt on or package from your provider that allows you to use data abroad.
7. Don’t get caught out on arrival
I have landed so many times, headed to the taxi rank and realised that I haven’t researched the conversion rate and how much a taxi trip should cost. This is the worst position to be in. Drivers will be keen to offer you their services, but if you don’t know the value of the currency or how far your destination is, it can make negotiating increasingly difficult. Easy solution – research your arrival plans before you actually arrive. Often there will be helpful advice from other travellers online. You will also find that many airports have direct trains and buses to the centre of the city. This can save you money at the start of your trip.
I make it my mission on my first day of any trip to get to know my surroundings by foot. Walking is the cheapest form of travel and it also helps you to find your bearings. If you walk, you will find all sorts of hidden gems that buses, taxis and trains may pass. If you have limited time, find out if there are any travel passes that you can buy. These often have lots of discounts for tourist attractions and restaurants – also helpful for keeping costs down.
9. Learn the rules of the road
Hiring a car can be a fun way of getting to know a new destination, but be wary of hidden costs. You will need to buy insurance and do check the car fully before leaving the car park. On top of that, take some time to research the rules of the road in the country you have travelled to.
10. Stock up on breakfast
If you are staying in a B&B, stock up on breakfast. This will reduce your eating costs. I often eat well in the morning – nothing better than an all you can eat breakfast! I then eat late in the afternoon for lunch. Lunch menus are often cheaper than dinner, especially if there are set menus. That usually fills me up for the day but if I need more, I get a cheap snack from a street stall for dinner.
11. Eat away from the tourist hot spots
Planning where to eat can often help you to keep costs down. Generally, the rules to follow when hunting good budget restaurants are 1) avoid restaurants near tourist attractions and 2) eat where locals eat. Sometimes a little walk away from the crowds can reap rewards and you will often stumble across some great, cheap, local restaurants.
12. Eat like a local
There are two benefits to sticking with local cuisine. The first is that local food is always cheaper than western restaurants. The second is that local food is usually tastes better because it is being cooked by chefs who are familiar with the produce and recipes.
13. Research currency
If like me, you tend to leave your planning until last minute, make sure you remember to research the local currency and the conversion rates. Knowing how far your money will stretch abroad can help you work out a daily budget. Buying currency in advance can help you to get the most for your money. Although convenient, leaving it until the airport to withdraw money can lead to unfavourable rates.
14. Earn while travelling
If you are heading to a more expensive country, why not spend some of your time working to cost neutralise your time there. There are some great ways to do this – become a ski instructor, work on a farm, teach abroad or earn money in hospitality. Don’t expect to come back as a millionaire, but it can certainly help to keep you abroad for longer.
15. Collect air-miles
If you travel a lot, collect the air miles for each journey. There are plenty of airline memberships to explore that offer frequent flyers lots of rewards.
16. Recycle your bottle
Plastic bottles litter so many cities around the world and environmentally and they reek havoc as they are not biodegradable. Aside from the overwhelming environmental benefits, taking a study, reusable bottle for water can save you while abroad. If you were to buy a few bottles a day, you could spend a few pounds or dollars a day and this adds up! Just be careful to ensure your bottle has a filter. If you are in a country where the water is deemed unsafe, be extra careful to source chemically filtered water.
If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear them! Happy planning!