You can’t travel on a dime. You have to be willing to spend at least some money to enjoy your travels. That’s just the reality of being an adult with bills, responsibilities, and things that need taking care of. However, it’s not impossible to travel cheap.
This is why many budget-conscious travelers must find ways of saving money while still having fun. Because it sure feels good when you get home from vacation, only owing $40 instead of $400. That said, here are five ways that will help you save some cash without compromising your experience out there:
1. Convert Your Dollars to Foreign Currency
Before you head out there, keep in mind that not every country accepts American dollars. So if you want to use your money when traveling abroad, it’s best to exchange them for whatever currency is used in the place you will be visiting.
Letting a foreign bank convert your money and use it in the country where you’re traveling allows you to enjoy more privileges. For example, your money will be worth its full value, and you can pay with credit cards or cash without having to worry about any conversion rates. Converting your dollars before traveling is usually a good idea if it’s possible.
2. Pack a Lunch
Eating food from different cuisines is one way to experience a country’s culture. It can burn through your wallet quickly, especially if you eat every day. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat out when you’re on vacation. But if you pack a lunch every day, even for just a couple of days of your trip, it’ll go a long way in saving money. This is especially true if you have access to a fridge or freezer in your accommodation where you can store leftovers or groceries. Learn how to shop for groceries on a budget. Always carry a list and do not pay attention to other interesting or attractive items on the shelves.
By packing a lunch, not only can you keep an eye on your expenses, but you know how many calories you’re eating in a day. This is especially helpful for the health-conscious traveler who sets a minimum or a maximum number of calories they can eat a day each time they travel.
3. Couch Surf or House-sit
Couch surfing is a great way to stay with locals for free. It’s also an excellent opportunity to meet people from different walks of life, learn about their cultures, and get the inside scoop on the city you’re visiting.
Another option to couch surfing is house-sitting. All you have to do in exchange for lodging is watch the homeowners’ pets. Suppose you’re not afraid of animals or are even an animal lover. In that case, this can be excellent accommodation for you to take advantage of without having to spend money on lodging costs.
You can check out local ad listings there or check online through Craigslist or Facebook to see if any locals can provide a space for couch surfers or house sitters. However, you’ll need to take extra precautions like you do when getting a hotel room or an Airbnb. After all, you are staying with strangers.
4. Take Public Transportation
Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to explore a city on foot or on a bicycle. But if you want to see even more sights and get around faster without carrying your luggage on your back, taking public transportation is a cheaper and more fun way of seeing cities. It’ll also allow you to meet people and locals who can tell you about other things to do in the area. It’s like having a personal tour guide for free.
5. Volunteer at NGOs
The best way to see a country is by helping locals who need it most. Volunteering allows you to help people without having to spend anything on lodging or food or worry about how you’re going to get around. In return for your presence, good work ethic, and energy, you will receive the most valuable thing of all: an experience you’ll never forget.
The wonderful thing about volunteering is that there are many opportunities to choose from. You can even get a free plane ticket to a certain destination if you volunteer long enough. You can go big and help with relief efforts after a natural disaster. Alternatively, you can do something more low-key by teaching English to school children in China. There’s even volunteer tourism, where you can volunteer your time to get an authentic cultural experience while still saving some money.
If you’re looking for ways to travel on a dime and still enjoy your experience, try these five hacks. You’ll be able to eat good food and make new friends from different cultures without having to spend as much money or carry it around with you everywhere you go. Remember, sometimes being cheap isn’t so bad when it means saving time and money in the long run.