Being in lock-down has made me, and many others, anxious to get back out exploring. So, when the time comes for another adventure, here are some tips to cut costs and avoid headaches!
- Research thoroughly!
You don’t want to get stuck in a subpar hostel or miss out on a great flight deal. Read articles, contact fellow travellers and stay updated. For example, I check airlines for student discounts and track flight prices through Google so I’m alerted when they go down.
Google also helps with planning my itinerary. For each trip, I make a Google Maps list of places I want to visit. I add attractions, parks, restaurants and even where I plan to stay. Google reviews and ratings help me prioritise where to go and what to do. Plus, it’s great to see everything on a map.
Also, safety is a priority. Know the risks in travelling and do your best to prepare for or avoid them. If you’re a U.S. citizen/national, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You register with a local U.S. Embassy or Consulate and receive vital updates regarding your travel. For example, I’ve received information about upcoming political demonstrations, strikes and health risks like covid-19.
- Plan in advance!
I once booked a flight from Rome to Nice on a whim. Long story short, I didn’t check how long it took get to the airport and arrived five minutes after takeoff. (Actually, for some odd reason, the flight took off ten minutes early but I still fudged up.) Since then, I’ve been very diligent about trip planning.
- Prepare your wallet!
(No, I’m not saying to prepare your wallet for financial shock.)
Figure out what’s the best way for you to make purchases while abroad.
With covid-19, more and more travellers are going cashless and it’s often cheaper to use a card because transaction fees can be lower than withdrawal fees.
For travelling and living abroad, I have a contactless international debit card. The card is linked to my TransferWise borderless account which enables me to hold balances in multiple currencies. My international debit card automatically processes payments in the local currency. If I pay with a strictly U.S. card, I’m subject to conversion fees, poor exchange rates, Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) and international transaction fees from my bank or card provider. Ew! (Read more about this from Forbes.)
- Pack light!
I go on four- to six-week trips with a basic backpack and purse. While not every trip can be condensed into a single backpack, it dramatically simplifies travel!
- You can arrive later for flight check-in.
- You can skip the baggage claim if it’s carry-on size.
- It’s easy to carry compared to wheeled suitcases and duffle bags, especially on Europe’s cobblestone streets.
- You have everything with you so you’re always prepared.
- It’s cheaper. A lot of airlines charge for even the first checked bag so, if you can pack light, why waste the money?
Ultimately, I’ve realised that I don’t need as much as I think. I stick to the essentials and pack them in tight. My Osprey Skimmer 28L pack is perfect for this with great features like lots of pockets!
- Print stuff out!
It’s better to be safe than sorry. If I have access to a printer, I print copies of every reservation and ticket. I’ve also gotten in the habit of screenshotting booking confirmations and flight check-in information. It has come in handy when I’ve had trouble connecting to airport WiFi.
- Eat in!
I love trying local cuisine but, after two or three meals, it gets expensive. Thankfully, many hostels and Airbnbs give access to a kitchen. I’ve saved a lot of money by eating in. If I go somewhere for more than two days, I stock up with a few essentials at a grocery store. For instance, microwaveable oatmeal and grain bowls are so simple and I can travel with them (even in a carry-on because they’re dry!).
To sum up…
There’s no right way to travel and every trip is different. However you travel, I hope you enjoy every moment of it!
P.S. Wear a mask and wash your hands!
This week, I’m giving kudos to Gina Danza, aka Wild Gina. She’s a talented photographer, inspiring creative and willful activist. Besides her stunning photos of the great outdoors, she posts insightful and essential content about social justice and cultural diversity. She shares very personal stories that broaden my world perspective. Thank you, Wild Gina!
Another “wee” thank you goes to my friend Amanda who took the lovely shot featured in this post. (The location is Glen Etive, Scotland, UK.) Miss you, my crazy adventure buddy! ❤