Travelling on a budget – part three
Ok so we’ve already had part one and part two of how to travel on a budget and we’ve barely arrived at our destination… I spent so much time rambling about airports and airplanes, I nearly forgot to tell you how to stay thrifty when you arrive. So let’s go!
1. Spend only your own money
I do not own a credit card, never have and hopefully never will. However, I do have a GE Money 28 Degrees travel card. Technically it’s a credit card, however you can load money onto it like a debit card and use it as such. I load money onto it and it’s free to use in stores around the globe. Of course, sometimes one needs cash and the charge for withdrawing money on one of these is only a little bit cheaper than using your Australian debit card. To save on costs, I only withdraw large sums of cash, which I then immediately split up between my various bags: some for my wallet, some for my carry on and some in my suitcase. I dip into the carry on and suit case stashes as need be.
2. Eat street food
My picnic in Paris.
This is my number one tip and applies double in expensive cities . It’s a great way to get in and among the locals in any city and usually results in the best food. The key is to look for little cafes, stalls and take outs filled with locals. You can also check out local food bloggers for budget finds.
However, in Paris I can’t recommend a picnic enough. Just pop into local boulangeries, charcuteries and fromageries for a baguette, some cured meat and a few different cheeses and find a park. Oh and don’t forget to get some sweet pastries while you’re paying for your baguette, might I suggest a mille feuille?
3. Consider city visitor cards
Me inside the aquarium named in my honour, age 21
City ‘visitor cards’ can be a total rip off, especially if you don’t plan on visiting half the places on offer. However, I’ve definitely bought a few that were worth my money, including the one sold at every museum in Istanbul. I like to do a little research beforehand about the cost of entering certain museums or attractions and then work out how much money I’d save by buying one. Also worth considering are ‘bundle’ tickets, where you get a discount for buying two or more tickets to different attractions at the same time – my sister and I saved a fair amount by buying our Georgia Aquarium (as if I wasn’t going to visit an aquarium named in my honour) and Coca Cola Factory tour tickets as a bundle.
4. Send postcards
It’s always nice to come home with a little something for your friends from your trip, but it can get very expensive very quickly. I occasionally stock up on birthday presents abroad, however I prefer to send postcards home instead of keyrings. They’re cheap to buy (as are stamps) and a hand written message about your adventures is so much more thoughtful than a plastic bangle or magnet.
As I also don’t need more magnets/trinkets, I also buy myself a postcard in every town I visit. (Or at least, every town that sells them. Point Roberts, Washington does not do postcards! Gutted!) I have quite the collection now and plastered across the back of my door, they’re full of amazing memories.
5. Check local guides for free events
The Christmas lights in New Mexico.
Ask around at quirky local stores or read local newspapers to find out what is happening in a city while you’re visiting. You might be lucky enough to be in town during a festival or celebration and if not, there’s usually something smaller but still cultural happening that isn’t in the tourist district. Don’t think that festivals are only in Summer either, Winter still holds its own with celebrations (bonus: Northern Hemisphere Winter is a cheap time to travel), as there’s often light and/or Christmas festivals such as the one in New Mexico pictured above. These add a unique touch to your travels and give you something else to talk about besides how awful small the Mona Lisa is. My favourite festival is the Albuquerque Balloon Festival at the end of summer each year – and it’s completely free!