Tips for Cheap Travel

Written by  Ryan Judge

With the dollar, the pound and the Euro experiencing a hard and long-overdue fall, it is hard to conceive going on an adventure without a sizeable effect on your bank account. This doesn’t need to be the case - take a few precautions and you can do it for a lot less.

Plan Your Trip

If you fail to plan your trip, you plan to fail. Destinations like London, Paris or Rome are rife with places and activities that could easily bankrupt you just hours after arriving. However, there are many free or cheap sites that will make your experience just as memorable. Most of the major museums in London are free as are a majority of the churches in Paris and Rome. It’s possible to visit the major landmarks and not pay for entry - simply marvel at the majestic ruins in and around the Colosseum or the cityscapes surrounding the Eiffel Tower.

Time and Money

Make a list of places you wish to visit and weigh cost versus experience and find out what could wait until next time. A person could easily spend a week in a museum like the Vatican Museum, home to the Sistine Chapel as well as a large number of paintings and exhibits – a prospect that makes it a weigh a bit heavy on your two to three day itinerary, so be aware that you may need to make and either/ or decision. The Louvre or the Musee d’Orsay? Either way you can still pop in to look at the outside of the other – a whistle stop tour of both isn’t financially viable.

Money Matters

Most credit cards charge a standard fee for purchases made abroad either by percentage or direct charge, so it’s a good idea to find the best deal. In the UK for example, Nationwide, offers a card with no exchange fees - however, it does charge fees and interest for cash withdrawals - the bottom line is to do your homework, weigh your options and then get applying. You shouldn’t have to but it can pay to let your bank know you’re travelling overseas just in case they’re tempted to cancel your card suspecting fraud.
While paying by credit can cover a good portion of your spending, a better, more pragmatic means of budget control can be to pay in cold hard cash. It’s not advisable to carry large sums of money with you at all times, but if you place your cash in a separate, safe location and take out, a set limit a day, you can retain better financial control. You can also save money by exchanging your cash ahead of time and staying far, far away from any moneychangers within proximity of landmarks or places of transit. While some of these businesses will claim to have low exchange rates or small tariff fees, there is most likely some way they are cheating you out of money you could have otherwise spent on yourself. Banks and post offices generally give you the best deal but you may need to give them some warning.

Have Fun!

Just because you are on a budget, it is not impossible to have a good time – in some places you can have a pretty good time just wandering around and if you know your financial limits and have a warm bed to sleep in, you’re pretty much set. By keeping a cool head and taking in your surroundings, your experience can reach its apex on a shoestring and who wouldn’t want that? Now, go pay some of your bills and start planning!

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