Tips & Tricks for the cheap Traveler.

Money Money Money Money.

It’s all about the money. More money you’ve got, longer your travels can last, the more you can do, and the more fun you can have. Run out of money? That sucks, you’re left calling you friends or parents (or both) begging for pennies to head home and in the meantime probably sleeping somewhere uncomfortable munching cheap snacks for dinner. Joy. Of course you could always try to work for some quick cash, but then you’ve got a whole new plethora of annoyances to work legally, and if you choose to try to get cash the ‘under the table’ way you’re likely going to be working hard for minimal profit, all while knowing if someone decides not to pay up, there’s not a thing you can do about it. Damn.

So how can you avoid this apocalyptic scenario? Easy. Save your pennies and play it smart. You’d be amazed how much comfort you can get for minimal monies. This isn’t a guide by any means, more just a few common sense little things I’ve found useful while traveling Europe.

-If you’re eating at a restaurant, drink water. Not bubbly water, not sparkling, not mineral or holy water or water infused with the power of Zeus. Just plain tap water. Cheap. Free. Tap water. But why you ask? Because the drinks are the expensive part of any decent meal, and without that added cost of a cola or a glass of wine, you can easily afford to sample delicious local foods without breaking the bank. Which brings up…

-Drinks in general. For the most part, stick with bottled water. Find the local market and they’re sure to have big 1 liter bottles for dirt cheap prices. And if you absolutely must enjoy a cool tasty specialty, then again, find the local supermarket and get it there. Buying drinks at the little tourist kiosks may be convenient, but it’s also likely three times the price you’d pay anywhere else.

It may sound boring, water, water and more water. However not only is it healthy for you but you’d be amazed at how much money you’re saving by such a simple thing. If you absolutely must spend a couple nights in a pub as part of you trip, try to limit your money spent carefully. I’ve met people who’ve wasted away days worth of money on nights they can’t even remember the next day. I can do that at home if I want to, traveling half-way across the world to do it just seems stupid! But hell, I’m not here to criticize anyones habits, just point out how bloody expensive it can be. Do that every night and you’ll soon find yourself wondering where all the money went.

-Hostels are an excellent place to spend a night or two. Don’t be stupid, don’t believe the silly movies or whispered rumors. The truth is Hostels are just like Hotels in that there are some that are better than others. Hell, I can name a few Hostels which I found better than hotels that cost hundreds a night to stay at. Indeed the novelty of spending the night in such a setting can be refreshing at times (Unless you’ve got a snorer in the room. Damn them! But after a long busy day world wandering, not even the mountainous rumbling of a fellow roommate is likely to keep you long from precious sleep.). Hostels can range in style and quality from location to location; some are small family run buildings, the equivalent of renting out an apartment. Small family run operations. And then there are the big organizations. Regardless of which type you stay in, Hostels are usually damn cheap and as far as needing a place to sleep goes they serve admirably.

-If you are traveling with a companion cheaper hotels are also an option. For a 2 star hotel (Basic amenities but little else.) the cost of a 2 bed room, or 1 bed if you’re traveling as a couple, split between two people will often end up the same cost as a pair of beds in a Hostel. And yet there’s no doubt about the advantages of having your own room for the night. 1-2 stars doesn’t mean bad by the way, the higher the star rating the more luxury. One of my favourite hotels was actually a 2 star hotel, which had spacious room, clean comfortable beds, great location and friendly staff.

As a side note, if you travel from one city to another you’ll quickly find out about the organization ‘Hosteling international’ which runs a good slew of Hostels around the world, and it’s worth mentioning that in general I’ve had more bad experiences with that organization and the hostels under them than good. Usually when looking for places my mantra would be ‘anywhere but Hostel International’. A mantra that served me well. I’m sure they’ve a couple excellent quality locals but seeing as I’m not omnipresent (Although I do try to be!) and the vast majority of times I’ve stayed there (Usually for lack of anywhere else affordable to stay.) have been fairly negative experiences, you’ll forgive me if I just try to avoid them as a whole!

-Don’t buy maps or touristy info, there’s always a free alternative somewhere. Tourist information will often have a free cheap map and a slew of ones which you have to pay for, and for the most part you’ll find that the cheap freebies are more than enough to explore the cities core. That’s what they’re for after all: An incentive to get tourists to explore the local areas. They wont give much information beyond the central core of the town or city, but that’s usually more than enough.

-Walk whenever possible and if you need to get somewhere far enough away that you can’t walk there, then take the public transportation. Taxi are just too damned expensive, and even the thought of renting a vehicle sends a money related shiver down my spine. Via transit and walking the cost of wandering a city is negligible, leaving you all the more money for an extra days travel later on or to treat yourself to a cool soft-drink or a snack at a local cafe.

-Try to avoid spending in the tourist traps. These are the locations where the prices are highest, the crowds are thickest, and everything is designed to sneak pennies from yer pockets. By all means wander them freely and enjoy, the tourist traps are often the nicest part of cities. But just keep in mind that almost anything you buy there, whether it be food or drinks or tickets or whatever, will often be almost twice the price of anywhere else in the city. That’s just the way it works! Meanwhile the attractions you’ll find in these areas are often the most pricey but showy of a cities sights. Whether you pay for admission to these places is ultimately up to you. You are a traveler after all, it’d be silly to go to say; Paris, and not visit The Louvre! Just keep in mind these things add up after a while.

-Batteries are expensive, either bring enough to last the trip from home or make sure whatever electronics you’re carrying are rechargeable. Unfortunately the different voltage from UK to Europe to North America and various other places around the world will not always be compatible with the rechargeable item in question, regardless of plug converters. But for the most part anything designed for travel or convenience: Camera’s, Electric Shaver’s and the like will work just fine. Just be careful.


-Many places you might stay will offer a basic free breakfast or at the least a baguette if you happen to be in France. Ask about it before getting a room for the night and consider it when choosing a place to stay, most hotel will have this and many hostel as well. Take advantage of this always! Eat your fill and then eat a little more before going about your day.  Stuff yourself. GORGE! Free food is a beautiful thing and should be taken advantage of. Might not always be the best (9 times out of 10 you’re choices are cereal, cereal, and more cereal if you’re at a hostel.) but it’s free.

-Now if you’ve saved money by not buying an expensive breakfast, here’s another tip in the same vein; Eat smart! It might seem counter-intuitive for me to suggest you eat at a nice place for dinner but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Perhaps you think fast food is a clever way to save money, it is cheap after all and McDonald’s really is everywhere. But the food they serve is simply neither very healthy or filling and you’ll find yourself much more hungry quicker than if you’d eaten some genuine food. And this applies not just McDonald’s but most any fast food chain. Meanwhile if you’ve taken my advice above and do not order any drinks, you’ll discover that eating at a fairly nice place to enjoy the local cuisine isn’t all that much more expensive than the fast food chain you were considering earlier and so much more filling. Indeed, you just might start skipping lunches and looking forward more and more to trying something tasty and new for dinner. Saving money and eating great, you can’t ask for more!

-This isn’t always an option but if you can find a local marketplace there will occasionally be a few stalls which will offer basic meals. When you can find these go for it, you’re getting the best of the local cuisine at dirt cheap prices.

That’s all I can think of for the moment, although I’m sure I’ll end up editing this a few times in the future as various other little things come to mind and I feel the urge to make this as complete as possible for next time I look it over. And honestly it may not sound like much, but the money saved from things as simple as drinking water really does add up. I write this just as much to remind myself as anything else, since I’m still kicking myself over some of the stupid mistakes I’ve made while traveling that cost me so very much money.

Next time I’ll be smarter, next time…

Explore posts in the same categories: Random, Travel

Tags: , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: