1. Bring your phone or camera and download/take pictures of destinations that are on your itinerary – that way, if you’re in a foreign country and there’s a language barrier, you can show the picture to the cab driver and prevent misunderstandings. No long and expensive taxi rides to destinations you didn’t want to go to!
2. If you want to avoid carrying around a stack of papers along on your trips, you can download a handy little iPhone app called “TripIt”. You send emails regarding bookings and reservations to it and it builds your itinerary for you! You will be more organized and save yourself money and time. Especially if you can avoid having to buy a replacement ticket or make a new booking because you lost something – this would definitely happen to me!
3. If you have health benefits that cover ‘alternative’ health expenses like massage, acupuncture, and other good stuff – schedule a romantic couples’ massage with your significant other and let insurance pay for it while on your trip. Make sure you check with your health care insurance provider before making those pricey plans to avoid a hefty expense. – Inspired by Sunshine from Transforming the Now.
4. Research and read travel blogger sites to learn how to navigate your way through foreign territory with style. This will help you get a more personal perspective on what you’ll be experiencing when you head out for parts unknown. You might get the down-low on if you’re room is located next to a noisy dance club or whether that tourist attraction is as pretty as the pictures.
5. If you’re travelling within North America, sign up for discount sites like Groupon and Living Social and look up the city you’re travelling to before your trip. Keep an eye on your email and cash in on deals to local attractions you might be interested in. I know on a trip to Las Vegas, a couple we met on a ‘Sunset Tour of the Grand Canyon’ ended up paying a fraction of the cost we did through Groupon for the same experience. **Make sure you read the fine print to make sure you can use the deal, some have date restrictions or other limitations.**
6. If you are staying at a hotel, most of rooms in North American chains have basic amenities like fridges, coffee makers, and toasters. Buying basic groceries so you can make breakfast and carry snacks while you’re out and about can save you a tonne of cash while you’re enjoying the sights. In foreign countries – you might be able to upgrade to a room with kitchen equipment for a few extra dollars.
7. If you’re interested in a more personal accommodation situation, sites like couchsurfing.org, vrbo.com (vacation rentals by owners) or AirBnB will connect you with accommodations for free or at a discounted rate.
8. Talk to a travel agent – while this goes against a lot of what this list suggests (do your own research), these people know their business and can connect you with great deals and attractions that you might not be aware of when trying to book on your own. While a travel agent may cost a little more, they might be able to save you grief by letting you know which resorts are undergoing reservations or are new and haven’t worked out all the kinks of opening yet. If you can find a good one that’s focused on customer satisfaction instead of commissions, than she is worth her weight in gold.
9. It goes without saying but have a firm plan and a detailed budget before going on your trip. I say “before” because if you’re trying to decide if that “once in a lifetime” opportunity to Zipline through the Costa Rican jungle is “worth it”, it may be too hard to pass up and then you’re stuck with vacation budget hangover when you get home. You have to decide on what your priorities are before you go on the Trip of Many Temptations. Setting yearly goals and building a budget around that will help you stay on track in the moment.
10. And finally, read many reviews and not just the top three either – flip through the pages and find random ones at random places. Reviews can be a treasure trove of useful tidbits and fun facts that will help you decide if a location, attraction, or experience will be a good fit for you. You’ll have to beware the reviews that are too shiny, or positive, as these will likely be employees of said business trying to shine up the ratings for their service. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all worthy of attention – and your hard-earned dollars.
Whatever you end up doing, have fun! Check out this article on how to travel the world for free with contesting.
How about you readers, do you have any tips that help you have fun and stay frugal on your travelling adventures?