Quality Budget Traveling

Friday, April 21, 2023

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Some people save to acquire a luxury home or a sports car. Others are content with more modest material things. And some, like me, thrive to create memorable moments while exploring and discovering other countries, peoples, and cultures. And you don't have to be a millionaire to do that! When I first started traveling at least twice a year with a basic salary, some work colleagues who had a salary 3-4 times higher than mine always complained it was too expensive to travel 🤷🏻‍♀️ and ask me how I managed to go away that often.

The experience itself is the most important element to keep your eye on while traveling. What is your purpose for the journey? Are you changing jobs? Is it a business trip? Are you just going away to relax and recharge your batteries? So, first, start by defining the "why" is it you are traveling. Once this is set -and I know it doesn't sound like much fun but with practice, you will become faster at it and you will even enjoy it- you can start... budgeting! It takes more than a simple plan to make the most of your trip. And follow these tips:

- Avoid taking all your planned trip budget in form of cash. Sometimes you can get benefits from paying by card like when I was having a late impromptu lunch at fine place in Sao Paulo and because I hold a Platinum Mastercard I automatically received a 10% discount on my bill. That's always awesome 😁 An online bank like Wise provides a travel card that lets you withdraw money with minimal or no charges, pay in local currency, and dodge bad conversion rates. Cards are safer than cash because you can block a stolen or lost card.

- Use multiple sites to search for the best flight for your journey. Sometimes renting a car and enjoying the scenery on the road is cheaper and more convenient. Or you could maybe travel on a night bus or train to be more time efficient if there are long distances between the places you are visiting. Travel with local public transportation instead of taking a cab. Calculate the expenses, factor in the physical efforts you will need to engage, and the time you have at hand. Sometimes sites like Skyscanner or applications like Hopper, Expedia, and others give good last-minute deals. And sometimes it is more economical to buy directly from the airline. Do your homework thoroughly! It is often cheaper to fly midweek rather than on weekends, to buy airplane fares in off-peak season, and to look for sales advertised by airline companies several months ahead. If you have a stopover on your flight, how about transforming it into an additional city to visit?

- Avoid booking organized tours. You can usually visit the same places at a fraction of the price. And read about the destinations you have an eye on visiting. You can receive a lot of free information at local tourist centers. And this allows you to personalize your experience. When it comes to the city attractions and sightseeing spots, a lot of metropoles provide a city pass that is valid for a day, three, or more! That permits flexibility to your schedule. If you feel like resting this morning and going shopping or to the beach later instead of visiting a museum, then you are free to do so. You might want to research free attractions which abound in all large cities. What's wrong with free exhibitions, walking tours, and local markets?

- Accommodation is essential. Going on a camping trip is not quite the same as reserving a week at a 5-star hotel or resort. If you want to discover the local way of life, you will need to go for something in between. Several platforms offer apartments for rent, and you have several other options such as staying at a hostel if you want to mingle with a younger crowd, couchsurfing to get to know locals or even home exchange. In all cases, make sure to extensively read the reviews to avoid any bad surprises.

- And let's not forget about food and drink. We can't survive on plain air and water, can we? If you eat street food in many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, it is very cheap and delicious. Sometimes, it's quite audacious but you are doing something different. This is how we learn, expand our horizons, and support local businesses instead of giving our money to large chains that aren't always giving us the feel of the local culture. It is good to note that in many countries, tap water isn't always safe. Supply yourself with small reusable bottles that are easy to carry and you can refill them at safe water points. This way you keep hydrated and refrain from creating too much plastic waste/dump 😁

Of course, there are other ways to travel cheaply. Like planning a working holiday, where you agree to provide some hours of your day for a certain task and you are given free accommodation in exchange. A nice portal to browse for such opportunities is workaway.info and I am sure there are many others that you could look up. The crucial matter is that you plan ahead to avoid paying more. For instance, purchase a local SIM instead of using your home number and incurring roaming charges on your next statement. You can avoid tourist traps by looking for hidden gems and if you are heading to a less touristy destination, just be spontaneous and have fun!

Safe and happy travels ✈️✈️✈️

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