You can travel cheaper.
I love to travel. In fact, I love travelling so much, I travel whenever I can. Does this mean I have unplanned expenses on my trip? Nope. I actually plan my trips months in advance to avoid exorbitant prices.
Travel is about time, money and flexibility/convenience. You can choose which of these are most important. Here are some examples:
- Time/Money: If you want to save time with a direct flight, you would need to pay more
- Money/Convenience: If you want to stay closer to the top attraction, you often will need to pay more.
- Convenience/Time: If you are in a race against time, you are forced to have a trip of convenience – at a price of course!
Planning, planning, planning
As with all good things in life, it takes time to plan and execute a frugal holiday. Many people get frustrated and choose to just opt for the easy options – and pay the price for their convenience. At this point, I want to mention that I am a shopper, not a buyer. This means that I shop around, I look for the best deal – but I am in no rush to actually buy anything. I would only buy something if the price is right and the time and value works out perfectly
An example of this would be in the way I book my flights. If I am interested in booking a flight to Europe, I would find the airports that are the cheapest (with the lowest airport taxes, etc.). These would include Dublin and Madrid. I would then go and check the prices of flights around my dates daily for a few months. Once I get the price that I feel justifies the flight, I will buy.
Top tips for travelling
Please – learn from me, as this will probably save you as a small fortune. Here are the Frugal Local’s top tips for frugal travelling. Remember that travelling frugally does not mean cheap. It just means that you are not wasting money on things that will not add value to your life.
Let’s jump into those tips right away!
Do your research. I normally read up about destinations months, sometimes years in advance! This means I won’t get any nasty surprises once I arrive. An example is that in Egypt the custom is to rip off unknowing tourists for a 5-minute camel ride to charge $30. Just don’t do it! Don’t get on the camel!
Research foreign currency laws: check where you will be able to exchange your rands and if they charge commission. E.g. Due to the lax forex laws of the UK, it’s more profitable to exchange Rands in London than to exchange it for Pounds in South Africa.
Check flights on travelstart.com on a daily basis. After a few weeks, you will know what will qualify as a good deal and what won’t.
Check out other destinations around your ideal destination. A flight to Madrid is cheaper than a flight to Barcelona and a flight to Rome is cheaper than a flight to Dubrovnik (even if you account for the cheap airline ticket from Rome to Dubrovnik and back!)
Plan the costs of your accommodation: check out Airbnb, booking.com and other sites to get the best deal. It’s often a trade-off between facilities and location. If you’re like me and spend most of your time outside exploring, don’t go wild on your accommodation spend.
Know what you want to get out of your holiday. Also know what you want to buy and what you would need to spend on food, souvenirs and excursions.
If you can use travel miles or ebucks, why not?!
Awesome resources for your trip planning
Essentially what I am implying is that planning is everything. It’s just like the perfect date: leave nothing to chance.
Here are some of the resources I use to plan my trip:
- Wikitravel: research your destination, how to get around, where to arrive and what sights to see
- Hippo.co.za: use this for travel insurance comparisons. Don’t just take the one from Flight Centre!
- Travelstart.co.za: check flights here regularly. Check for flights around your chosen date. Don’t fly Ethiopian Air and don’t fly Mozambican Air.
- booking.com and airbnb.com: frugal accommodation for the normal person. You could try couch surfing, but I personally wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re looking to get laid or have a SERIOUS frugal spirit!
- Google maps: mark off all the places of interest under “saved”. Also, download the area map for use offline. You GPS is available for offline use with the offline maps.
- Atlas Obscura is probably my favourite place to find interesting and weird places to see in your travels. Don’t just do all the normal things – check out anything from a bookshop with all their books on boats to haunted hotels on this site!
Top tips during your trip
Have your paperwork in a folder, which include bank statements, passports, visa letters, proof of accommodation and other important info
Don’t carry too much cash in one place. spread it into different places including your hand luggage, inside a book, in your wallet and so forth.
Check out supermarkets: sometimes you will be able to find authentic meals and even some of the souvenirs at half the price.
Try the local food, you will regret it if you did not. Check out websites that allow for street food tours and home cooking experiences
Check out where tours go to, and see if you are able to get there yourself. Remember you will not be able to see everything nor remember everything from a guide. The internet is full of guides!
Don’t spend money on things you will not remember, and certainly not on souvenirs for people you don’t care about.
For the sake of your budget, your work and your planning, Your holiday should be booked months in advance.
Last-minute holidays is a recipe for financial disaster.
Plan to rest and get your strength back to a healthy level.
And most of all, enjoy your trip!
Frugal Local runs his own company (Effectify). He does software development and helps small businesses and startups with digital solutions. He enjoys writing articles and simplifying complex things – such as the article you’re reading!