On a Budget.
1.Tickets: Set a price, and stick with it. Decide what kind of travel you want, and what you’re willing to pay for; decide if your days are flexible; and then compare every. single. site. Sign up for all the deal emails, and keep an eye on your inbox. Follow travel magazines, as they’ll oftentimes post articles about upcoming airline deals. We never stick just to budget websites, and recently were rewarded with the cheapest tickets being sold on the airline’s website.
2.Housing: Pick an easy access location, and then compare. I always start with neighborhood research; how far away is it from the sites, public transportation, places to eat and drink; it doesn’t seem important until you’re out and about all day (and usually into the night) and are then faced with a long walk/pricey taxi home.
Once you have the location down pull up every travel site, customize your AirBnB priorities and always, always read the reviews – remembering to keep your budget in mind as much as your chosen location, as you sift through the results.
3.Activities: There’s a great deal of the world you can see, for free. A number of cities offer free walking tours (check the online reviews before arriving); you’re expected to tip after the tour, but that’s a far cheaper option than booking a day tour that will often start at $50 and sky-rocket from there. Another money saving favourite of ours is picking up a free map at the local tourist information location, and walking about the historic sites for a day.
Day trips out of the city are often times worth the money, when arranging travel and transport yourself, along with paying entrance fees once arriving at the locations can really add up. Compare the fees and timetables to what day tours offer.
4.Packing: Start with your luggage. If you want to avoid baggage fees (as we always do) read your airline’s baggage rules. Check every airline you’ll be traveling on, since each one might have different weight and measurement requirements. Pull out the tape measure, scale, and then plan your wardrobe. Minimalist is key. I once fit 2 1/2 weeks in Europe in a weekender duffle that had to come to 22pounds. And don’t forget to leave plenty of weight-space for souvenirs.
5.Food: Friends of mine once showed up for a vacation visit with a wad of cash in an envelope – they explained this was their food budget for the entire trip. I didn’t see the necessity of pulling that much cash at once, instead of day by day; but then I tried it on a trip to Europe – and it was fantastic!
Setting a daily budget for food, I found myself sticking to it when only that day’s allowance was in my wallet (keeping the majority safely stored at the housing). I paid attention to prices on menus as much as the TripAdvisor stars accrued; I’d choose the simpler, less pricey pastry to go with my morning tea; opted more often for a filling, but not fancy lunch and dinner. And by the end of the trip I had not only kept to my original budget, but I found I had ‘left-over’ money I could now use for some extra shopping (or to be put towards the next trip.)