How to travel on a budget in big cities

travel on a budget

Taking a ten-day holiday or boarding a plane spontaneously for a weekend city break can be expensive. But are there ways to travel cheaply? The answer is yes. Some strategies can help every keen traveller move around the world affordably, without going to extremes. If you wonder how you can fit more destinations in your calendar, here’s some advice on how to travel on a budget.  

Pack wisely

A well-packed suitcase can be a money savior on many different occasions along your trip. First, make sure your luggage is light and easy to carry up and down the stairs. Right, don’t assume all metro systems have elevators. Congratulations! You have just saved a crazy amount of money on taxis. Then, pack all the essentials because buying them at your destination is costly and time-consuming. Yes, they do sell toothpaste in X, Y, Z city, but what’s wrong with your half-empty tube?

Stay in a hostel

stay in a hostel

Probably you frown as you read the word hostel and think of all the connotations it has: a shared bathroom, noisy neighbors, and extra hidden costs. But all these years, hostels have been listening to your (and ours) complains, and are now offering elevated experiences. There are some clean, modern, and friendly hostels out there, which are worth checking. Also, most hostels nowadays offer private rooms, which might be slightly more expensive, but still cheaper than a hotel room. Are you ready to give guest houses another chance? Staying in a hostel saves you loads of money, and is a great way to meet fellow travellers.

Navigate the local transport

local transport

Navigating an unfamiliar transport system can be challenging, especially if signs are mainly written in the local language. Also, ticket machines are often operating very differently from the ones in your city. Therefore, it may take some effort (or help from a local) to understand how day and weekly passes work. However, before rushing into purchasing a travel card, which will probably save you a significant amount of money, do the maths: individual rides cost versus reusable cards.

Eat like a local

Korean dessert

No doubt that tasting the food is part of the local travel experience. However, if at the end of your trip, you sum up all the restaurant receipts, you are probaly setting yourself up for disappointment. Our budget tip here is not to eliminate restaurants from your itinerary, but to include them as a special treat. For example, if there’s a unique restaurant you really want to check out, go for it. But don’t waste your money on average restaurants and don’t enter the closest eatery just because you are hungry and tired of all the sightseeing. Look for a grocery store or a fruit and veg market instead, where food is far way cheaper, and often fresher. Alternatively, opt for street food, but if so, we recommend chatting to a local for the best options in the city.

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Forget roaming

using mobile abroad

How many times have you landed on a city abroad, and realized that your phone has been on roaming mode for hours? Roaming eats up so much money, and using your mobile’s 3G and 4G signals does too. An easy fix is to buy a local SIM card, which you can find almost anywhere — at telecommunication stores, airport kiosks, and in some cities, they are even sold by individuals in uniforms that state the brand of the service. Remember that to be able to use a foreign SIM card, you must unlock your mobile, which can be done at a local phone shop.

Look at the city happenings

Louvre Museum

Avoiding the tourist traps may sound like an obvious practice, but it is easier said than done. However, with a good plan, you can do miracles when it comes to saving money on must-sees and must-dos. Do thorough research on museums, art galleries, and monuments, and know in advance how much the admission fee is for each place you want to visit. Many cities have free monthly museum dates (e.g. on the last Friday of each month) or accept national student cards to apply discounts. What’s more, check out what festivals and cultural events or street fairs are taking place in the city during your visit. These are excellent opportunities for immersing yourself into the local culture and are often free.

These tips will help you travel on a budget in any city in the world. But, each city has its ins and outs, which are better explored if you chat with a local. Our expert loclpals are here to help you explore every city like a local, and in a style that matches your budget.

Posted by loclpal
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