It’s better to enjoy all the wonder of exploring a new place without coming home and puzzling over where your money went.
And while the phrase “budget travel” doesn’t initially set the soul soaring, consider taking another perspective. By focusing on where you are (rather than what you’re spending) the trip will be so much sweeter—and the memories just as vivid.
Ready to travel light? Check out these budget vacation hacks:
Take public transit
Wherever you choose to go, make friends with the metro system. There are plenty of cities all over the world with wonderful public transportation infrastructure, such as Stockholm, Sao Paulo or Tokyo. For just a few dollars, you can travel to beaches, museums, and other places of interest via bus, train, ferry, or the subway system.
Good to know: Check to see if there are museum and restaurant discounts associated with the metrocards in the city you’re visiting. You may find yourself seeing a lot more than you would out of a cab window.
Shop for food at grocery stores
When you’re at home, you probably don’t eat out every meal. Why should it be any different when you travel? Learn the grocery stores like a local, and you’ll save a bundle on food.
An advantage of grabbing food at grocery stores is that they often have some of the same famous local delicacies you’ll find in a restaurant, but at a fraction of the cost. You’ll still be able to experience a great deal of the regional cuisine simply by purchasing the dishes at the grocery store. Also, if you happen to be traveling in Europe, check out rival discount grocery stores Aldi and Lidl—and save your money for at least one memorable dinner out.
Free and easy
Why spend hundreds of dollars when so many wonderful things are free? Many beaches don’t charge admission—just bring your snorkeling gear or boogie board. Check out schedules for museums and other local cultural locations for free days and times.
There are sometimes discount coupons available for visitors in tourist brochures, which you can find at many information points in major cities.
And remember: history is nearly always free. By just walking around interesting historical neighborhoods you’ll feel immersed in your new destination. No credit cards needed.
Looking to relax with a glass of wine or a local beer? If you really want to enjoy yourself and have a night out on the town, steer clear of the large, fancy tourist bars. Ask where the locals go to enjoy a night out. They’re likely to be cheaper. Plus, chatting with locals is a great way to get to know a place.
Good tip: Neighborhood watering holes may also offer some of the best food around, because they cater to a local crowd.