Saturday, April 11, 2015

Budget Travelling: Save money and explore more

The usual concern for most of us while travelling is the budget. Thoughts like 'will we exceed the budget?', 'should we cut on a few activities?' cross our mind on a regular basis. The following tips ensure that one won't have to worry too much about exceeding the budget, as it will be most unlikely that this will happen.

Frankfurt Eisener Steg
Tip 1 - Booking Tickets in Advance

Booking tickets in advance has to be my favourite tip. Having done this at more than one instance, I can guarantee instant savings even before one has started their trip. A few years back when I travelled to Germany, my return ticket from Dubai to Frankfurt cost USD 520. My travel dates were in December (closer to Christmas). If I would have booked my ticket closer to my travel date, the tickets would cost atleast USD 620.

A more recent example would be the return ticket I booked from Dubai to San Francisco for USD 1,057. The same ticket now costs USD 1,317 (Savings of USD 260). I do know that the ticket will cost atleast a 100 dollars more, if I wait for a few more weeks.

Remember that as one books tickets closer to the date of travel, the options are limited and the tickets become more expensive. You can save this money and use it to visit more places.

Tip 2 – Book Hostels or 2/3 star hotels

It is important to understand the purpose of your trip. Are you looking for relaxation? Or will you exploring the city? If your answer is relaxation, this might not be the best tip for you but if you are looking forward to explore the city, this is the perfect tip for you.

When travelling, the common trend is to wake up early, have your breakfast and go out to explore. It is unlikely that you will be returning to the hotel anytime soon. Atleast for me, I prefer to be out till the evening or sometimes return at night. What this means is that you are spending little time at the hotel and paying for a 4 star or 5 star hotel just for a bed and breakfast. This doesn’t make sense.

Booking a 2/3 star hotel means saving a few hundred dollars. However make sure that the hotel is closer to the area where you will explore and it has a decent rating.

Personally, I am not comfortable with shared bathrooms and therefore avoid hostels, however if you are not too worried about shared bathrooms, a hostel would be the cheapest option.

However before booking remember that most websites do not show you the city taxes. Make sure you include that in your cost while making your budget.

Tip 3 – Using the bus or metro

Travelling around the city or between two cities? Using the bus or metro could save you a lot of money. However this does come with a disadvantage too, you end up wasting a lot of time. The list below shows you the fastest and the most expensive modes of transportation. You can choose the option best suited for you.

By Cost (from most expensive to the cheapest): Airticket, Cab/Taxi, Car rental, Metro, and Bus.

By Travel Time (from longest to shortest): Bus, Metro, Car, and Airplane

Travelling via air would mean missing out on the scenic views between the cities/towns but it also means saving a lot of time.

 Tip 4 – Currency exchange and using credit cards

It is advisable to exchange currency in your home country before you travel (make sure to adhere to the custom rules of how much currency you can carry). In general, if you try exchanging currency at a hotel or at the airport, it will be a more expensive option.

Some people prefer using their debit cards or withdrawing from the ATM. The ATM charges could cost you a lot and carrying currency around could be difficult and an added responsibility. Try using credit cards rather. Some might think what about the exchange rates charged by banks, aren’t these too high? That’s why use a credit card that gives you cashback on international spends or that gives you points on international spends. You might not end up saving too much when using the card but benefits such as cashback or points that you can use towards an airticket or rewards in the future is not a bad idea at all.

 Tip 5 – Pre booking tickets for attractions and discount offers

It is highly recommended that you pre book tickets for attractions such as theme parks, museums etc. Pre-booking ensures that you skip the queues and sometimes it also means discounts.

Online discount offers are common. If you try to book tickets online for attractions, you do get discounts or some added benefits. Do check out these offers before you travel, as there is no harm in saving a bit.
Do try these travel tips and let me know what you think about them. Have any more travel tips for budget travel? Do share them.

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