Budgeting, it’s what I do.
Not because I am poor, but just because I like getting value for money and HATE the thought of being in debt.
However, on the travel front that does not mean that I avoid destinations which you might deem expensive. Far from it, I too wish to visit destinations such as Dubai and Vegas, but I just don’t want to bankrupt myself by doing so, so I budget.
When it comes to travel, I am a man with a plan.
This one’s always fairly easy, walk.
Ditch the expensive cabs, rickshaws and tuktuks, even the trams, buses and trains. Just walk, quite often walking will have you find somewhere amazing you would have otherwise missed.
Admittedly walking is not always possible (or your hungover), so this is where you’d look to travel as the locals do, most likely on public transport and using some kind of prepaid ticket. It may take a bit of pre planning to arrange, but you’ll be glad of the money it saves you.
One of the main themes of this blog is hostels, so naturally they would be first recommendation for saving money on accommodation, and that doesn’t have to mean a smelly dorm room shared with 15 other people. Certain hostel brands have really upped their game in recent years, and boutique hostels are springing up all over the place. Don’t be afraid to look into private rooms within hostels.
Airbnb, Wimdu and Roomorama are also options, and it can often be cheaper than a hotel room.
If hotels and that little bit of luxury are really what want, check out websites such as Priceline and Room Auction, where you bid for rooms at prices lower than normally advertised.
I’ve never really been one for fancy restaurants. That probably sounds like me being a cheapskate and avoiding taking my gf out, but I honestly don’t think she’s massively into fine dining either. Sure we both like nice food, but it’s more about the people we’re with rather than the place we’re in and how shiny it’s cutlery is.
I’m not against fine dining, if it’s your thing by all means knock yourself out with it, it’s just not for me.
Personally, I like street food and small independent restaurants. Failing those, I’m always good for a burger or pizza.
One off or unique experiences are usually what I try save my money for. This is the bit I’ll most likely remember when I get home, the bit I’ll write about and retale to friends and family.
Memories > Material
For me this is the important bit! … but that’s not to say I throw my (remaining) money at these things, I still try and save/budget where I can.
It could be as simple as visiting on a certain day of the week where prices are discounted.
Booking in advance to get special prices
Booking tickets for multiple attractions as a bunch and getting a ‘combo’ price.
Sometimes it’s not possible to save, and I’m OK with that. But more often than not, a little research prior to travelling will have you find a couple of £/$/€ saving.
It all adds up.
Other Budgeting Tips
- City cards – Some cities such as Copenhagen employ a city card system whereby you can pre pay for a card which covers your travel, discounts and entrances to any number of sights included.
- Bus Tours – Not seen as overly cool by *cough cough* proper travellers, but a multi stop bus tour around NYC proved incredible value for my girlfriend. We effectively had all of our travel sorted, learned a lot from our tour guide along the way, and then on top of that we got discounted entry to affiliated sights and restaurants. Winner in my book.
- Happy Hour – do I need to explain this one?
- Early bird menus – as above
- Travelling light – Nothing ground breaking here, but if you’re on a city break try travel hand luggage only to keep those flight costs down.
- Use points to pay Airmiles, these beauties can be used for more than just upgrading flights. They can also be used to ‘pay’ for hotel rooms, car hire and transfers. My personalty fvaourite though is to use my Avios for Eurostar tickets. Of course first you need to earn those airmiles, and that can be done throughout the course of the year simply by using a credit card to make your everyday purchases when at home. For instance the TSB Credit Card offers 1 Avios on almost every £1 you spend on the TSB Avios American Express® Card and 1 Avios for every £5 of eligible spend on the TSB Avios MasterCard. It might not sound like a lot, but they sure add up over the course of a year.
Expensive cities will always be expensive. They’re trendy/fashionable for a reason, and will always be in demand.
Of course there are ways to ensure damage limitation when it comes to your wallet/purse. Some are more drastic than others, and some will result in bigger savings than others, but every penny counts.
Personally I try not to let money or cost ever put me off a destination, but it might put me off a certain hotel or restaurant … but I’d rather not eat or stay at their of those, should missing them allow me to travel in the first place. Big picture!