Monday, April 21, 2008

Budget Travel Tips

After turning my credit cards and debit cards upside down, inside out, and shaking out every last cent in them to pay for my summer travel study fees to Switzerland and EAP fees for Hong Kong, I am extra money-conscious these days.  

I know this year is going to be mighty expensive but I also know it will be unforgettable.  I can always find ways to make money back but time? That's precious.  Memories? That's priceless.  Justin Jones shares my pain and has some great tips on how to budget while browsing the globe.  I have cut and pasted some of his advice found in his article in the "Young Money" magazine (you know, that free one you can pick up around the corners of campus buildings)

1) Freeloading is Free
Hostels are a great way to travel on the cheap and meet some cool people, but it's even better to travel on the free. Talk to locals and try to make friends with them. If you're especially charming, you can sometimes get friendly locals to open their homes and their lives to you.  A better (and probably safer) strategy is to use a website like or
JJ says: I don't know how comfortable I would feel about this one, especially with all the creepy people out there. But if you're traveling with tough male (or female) companions, you may want to check it out.

2) Bootleg a Tour Guide
Every major touristy locale, from the Coliseum in Rome to the Old City in Jerusalem, will have tour guides in almost every language.  Hand around until a guide speaking English comes by and slip into the group for a free guided tour!
JJ says: This one is definitely worth trying. Especially when you're tired and/or lost.  

3) Dinner Roll Reprise
When you go out to dinner, steal the dinner rolls and stash them into your pack for breakfast or for a snack on the go.  Making your own food is probably the best way to save money on the road-just don't forget to sample the local cuisine at least once!
JJ says: When I travel, I think I will definitely attempt to do this for at least half my meals.  My wallet and my stomach wouldn't be able to handle eating out everyday!

4) Night Train to Scrimpville
You should consider sleeping on the night train to save some time and money.  Or get a sleeper for just a couple bucks extra.  In addition to your ticket, you'll get a bed, and often a light breakfast in the morning.  You won't save much money with this tip, but you'll save a day of travel, which can sometimes be more valuable.
JJ says: For someone who can sleep pretty much anywhere, anytime, especially on moving vehicles, I will definitely take this tip to task.  Just be careful with your possessions!

5) Card Carrying Miser
Get an international student discount card before you leave, there are a few options to choose from, including ISE and ISIC.  These are useful for visiting museums and historical sites.  It's also worth saying you're a student, even if you aren't.
JJ says: Yea, I went to a museum in Taiwan, didn't have my card and had to pay 2x as much. Ouch!

6) Water is Free
Obvious but often overlooked. Bring a water bottle-always.  Take advantage of sinks and public fountains with free, potable water. Just remember to check if the water is actually drinkable...
JJ says: In Europe, it may just be better for me to drink their alcohol all the time. I hear it's cheaper and safer.  I mean, I don't really want to but if I must...then I guess I must...

7) Avoid Tourist Traps
This doesn't always work-if you're in Paris, you'll have to see the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, but in many cases, there are more interesting, more local things to do that will save you some serious cash.  If you see all the tourists heading in one direction, try going the other way-counter-tourism.  You never know what you'll discover, but it will probably be cheaper and interesting.
JJ says:  I'm all for being down with tourist traps!  Try having a general plan of all you want to see/do and once you've accomplished them, go counter-tourist!

Any other budget travel tips?  Share!


Dorothy said...

hahahaha we're both blogging at the same time! but i don't have anything to blog about...must go bake smthg!!!

#3 on your list of tips is my favorite; just substitute dinner rolls with malt vinegar, or salt and pepper...

Dorothy said...

how come your blog won't let me post as dessertobsessed?