Does the term ‘budget holiday’ sound like a joke to you? Do you manage to spend more money than you planned on holidays? Do some hidden costs sneak their way into your bank statements?
I have both hands high up in the air! Guilty as charged! But don’t worry. It happens to all of us. But can we cut these nonbudget-friendly hidden expenses? The answer is: YES! (Otherwise, these earlier lines would have been just a cruel reminder)
In this article, I will highlight how to save money when you are already on the trip. So, I am assuming that my blog has convinced you to pack up your bags for next weekend break/holiday. Let’s see if together we can make it a trip of the lifetime without burning holes in your pockets. I am pointing out the most common (and hidden) expenses that fail the concept of a budget holiday.
1. Public transport:
I always use public transport when I am traveling. Most of the places I have been to offer wonderful public transport facilities. It is undoubtedly cheaper than taxis and gives you a peek into the everyday life of the locals. Airports are generally out of the cities and it is expensive to get back to the city with taxis. For example, public transport costs 1.5 euros for normal and 6 euros for express bus service from Nice airport to Nice city center. Taxi/Uber cost about 25-30 euros! It was same for Thessaloniki. The difference is huge. There you go! Already saving money just after landing! And it is environment-friendly to share rides. Saving money and being green can not be combined together in an easier way.
2. Baggage weight:
I have seen many budget fails when baggage exceeds the allowed limit. Always weigh your bags before leaving for the airport. I am a light traveler. (Exception: when I am flying back to Germany, my mother insists to fill all the remaining weight of my bags with homemade pickles. Every time! 😀 ) It costs a lot more money if the bag is overweight and is not worth it (unless it is full of gold/diamond in which case you might be going in your own private jet and this article makes no sense to you! Thanks for reading though). Even when traveling by train or bus, I prefer to travel with minimal luggage. It is easier to handle and keep secure.
3. City passes:
Many cities offer special one-day, two-day or even week-long city passes for visitors. Often it includes free entrance to major attraction sights and museums. We used it in Reykjavik, Barcelona and French Riviera for all the cool museums. We used almost three times of what we paid for the French Riviera pass. No wonder we love city passes! They are well-organized and cheaper (both money and time-wise) than buying each ticket individually. So, do a quick Google search (or ask the visitor information center) to know if it is worth having the pass as per your travel plan.
4. Online tickets:
Even if you don’t want to buy the city pass, try to buy museum/attractions tickets online when possible. Online tickets are usually cheaper (again both money and time-wise). We bought online tickets for Sagrada familia in Barcelona and that saved us from 2 hours in the queue! Most of the times, you can just download it on your phone, so no fear of forgetting it behind. This also helps you to save some paper and join the green parade! Don’t forget to check if they have student discounts.
5. Walk, walk, walk:
I think everyone knows by now how much I love walking. Be it Bern, Freiburg, Lugano, Reykjavik, Rome, Salzburg or Thessaloniki, I have covered most of them on foot. If you ask me if I would prefer to walk 30 minutes or take a bus for 10 minutes, my answer will be walking (Unless it is middle of the night and I have no idea of the streets). I believe walking is the best way to explore a city. It uncovers a lot more about the city and the people living there. I love finding hidden alleys and cafes that are a bit further away from the tourist routes.
6. Water bottle:
I always have a refillable water bottle with me. That means not spending money every time I need water. They can be easily refilled at public places or restaurants/cafes where we stop by for our meals. Plus, the environment is better off without extra bottles of plastic. It is one of the easiest things one can do towards green travel!
7. Don’t eat at touristic locations:
Touristic attractions have plenty of eating options around them. I don’t like them. I prefer to eat at a place filled with locals enjoying the best delicacies. Not only is it cheaper but more representative of the authentic cuisine as well. I prefer to get advice from locals and Airbnb makes it easier. (Use this link to get free credit of 30 Euros for your first booking; I receive the same!). It is a great way to meeting up people and getting useful non-tourist advice about good places to eat. Or just having a walk around. Our host in Milan recommended us this delicious pizza place in the middle of the city. Though central, we would never have found it. Oh, I still remember the aroma, the flavors! (I think I need a pizza break).
Reading suggestion: The best Greek dishes!
We love Airbnbs. We use them often and so far we never had a bad experience (**touch-wood). The best thing about Airbnb is that it is cheaper than hotels. In fact, if you are more than 2 people, it is cheaper than booking hostel dorm beds individually. And don’t forget to weigh in the valuable interactions and advice from the hosts! Great, no? As these places are rented by local people, it helps the economy in a very local way and hence lies around my idea of Go Green, Go Local!
8. Internet and call rates:
Calls and Internet could be very expensive when in roaming. Ask your connection provider for cheaper data/call plans if you need Internet outside your accommodation. Try to find cafe/restaurants with wi-fi if you need it for longer times. This is the one I am most guilty of. I love my phone and internet. I love the feeling of knowing that I can look up things online whenever I want in at an unknown place (Nearest food joint, ATM or bus stop. Anything). I can call someone whenever I want. I can upload pictures whenever I want. So unless going for a long break, I stick to my current data plan where I pay 3 euros per day for calls and Internet in roaming. Not the best way I guess, but I feel more comfortable like this! 🙂
9. Currency conversion:
One of the biggest hidden culprits against an international budget holiday is currency conversion charges. We cannot avoid it. But we can definitely cut the extra costs incurred along the conversion itself. Before traveling international, ask your bank for the best payment options. Some cards are exclusively designed for travel purposes. So, ask for them! Or just ask for the best way to pay overseas. Is it by cash, or ATM or credit card? My credit card allows me to make international payments without extra charges. So, I prefer to use a credit card when traveling. Kshitij’s bank card allows him to withdraw money anywhere without any extra charges. So, we use it abroad when we need cash.
10. Treat yourself once in a while
Traveling is fun and but can get a bit tedious with these calculations all the time. So, relax! You are on a break. It is okay once in a while to indulge in something nice.Treat yourself once in a while. And when you do that say cheers to budget holiday!
Did you notice one thing: most of the cheaper alternatives are environment-friendly. I cannot emphasize enough the importance and ease of being environment-friendly. Traveling or not!
I know that people have different lifestyles and even more different travel styles. One shoe cannot fit all. To know what exactly is failing your budget holiday, just do one thing. Next time when you are on holiday, keep track of all the unplanned expenses you deal with. You will be surprised to know where all your holiday budget is disappearing, sneakily. It might seem like a lot of work the first time, but it gets easier with time. Next time when you plan your trip, translate these budget hacks in planning already. So, no overdue calculations when on holidays. Just relaxing and enjoying the moment!
I hope this article helps you in avoiding the pitfalls in your perfect plan. So, are you ready to make your budget holiday a reality? Go for it! Let me know how it worked out for your next trip. I am all ears 🙂
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