23 travel tips and essentials that will save you money and help ensure a smooth travel experience!
1.) Stop checking your luggage
One of the easiest ways to save a hundred dollars right off the bat. Checking your luggage is like gambling with your belongings. You’re paying outrageous fees and at the same time, there is no guarantee that something's not going to break, get lost, or stolen. For more tips on packing, read my blog on how to pack like a pro.
2.) Check in online
If the airline gives you the option of an e-ticket, take it! Not only will checking in as early as possible get you a better zone number to board the plane, but you can just go straight through to security as soon as you get to the airport and skip all those annoying ticket and kiosk lines! Plus, no more losing or scavenging your bags and pockets trying to find your ticket, it’s right on your phone!
3.) Don’t rule out hostels
Hostels get a bad rep, but many of them are just as nice, (if not nicer) than most hotels. You can find youth hostels in every imaginable location and at a much cheaper price. Most hostels organize different activities such as walking tours, parties, tango lessons, and other various outings. They’re a great way to meet different people from all around the world and get a new perspective. I use Hostelworld.com for booking. It shows ratings, reviews, and doesn’t charge any booking fees.
4.) Stop buying water bottles
Just because you can’t bring water and liquids through security, doesn’t mean you can’t bring an empty water bottle. As soon as I get through the security line, I head to the drinking fountain or a restaurant and fill it up. Not only does it save you from getting ripped off by buying a $5 water at the airport, but it helps reduce your carbon footprint; disposable drink bottles are one of the most prevalent sources of pollution found on our beaches.
It’s also a good backup supply if you’re going somewhere with not-so-great water. Before I flew to India, I filled up a couple of these with New York water, just in case I had trouble finding decent water at my stay.
I highly recommend investing (about $5) in one of these fold-up water bottles. They’re lightweight, reusable, and can be flattened and rolled up for convenient, compact storage. My favorite are by Vapur, but theres several brands out there. They’re made of BPA Free Plastic and come with a handy carabiner for clipping to your belt or backpack for easy transport.
5.) Don’t skip breakfast
Try to stay at a hotel or hostel that offers continental breakfast or pick up some fruit and granola bars to eat on the go. Everytime I travel, I bring a big bag of mixed oatmeal and it’s been one of the most helpful things I’ve found to do. Not only does it save money and stop me from buying a crappy, on the go, not so healthy breakfast; it helps me not worry when my next meal is going to be, or that I’m having nothing but cannolis and gelato for dinner.
6.) Always haggle
Never pay the initial asking price for goods or services. Many other cultures expect to be bargained with and inflate the initial price to try and take advantage of tourists who don’t know any better. If you need some tips, check out my previous blog post on How to Barter Like a Boss!
7.) Look into smaller airports and airlines
Don’t always assume that the most known airport is going to have the best price. Always do a search for nearby airports and compare the prices before you book. You would be amazed by the amount of airports there are in each country - and even state - that you’ve never heard of. I flew direct to Minnesota from a small airport outside of Philadelphia (TTN) for $19 last month!
The mecca of cheap airfare! If you’re looking to hop around from country to country, Ryanair is the way to go (I’m talking $9 from London to Paris). Ryanair's route network serves 28 countries in Europe and also Morocco. Their baggage policy is a little annoying, but you shouldn’t have any problem with that since you read my blog about never checking your bags again and now know how to pack like a pro, right?!
9.) Public Transportation
Save time, money, and energy by mastering the cities subway and bus systems. Many cities have such great public transportation, that locals don’t even own a car. Grab a transit map or ask for some help and travel like the locals do! If you’ve never used public transportation before, it can be a bit intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake and you will feel so accomplished!
10.) Don’t be scared to ask for help
Locals can give you the best recommendations on what to see and do. Chat up your waiter or hotel concierge about what their favorite spot is and must-see locations. I know your mom always told you not to talk to strangers, but the world is filled with good people who are more than happy to help lost tourists find their way. Don’t be scared to confirm with a local that you’re at the right platform or bus stop before you board. Often times, if you tell them where you’re going, they will gladly tell you where to get off.
11.) Look into airport transportation prior to your trip
On a trip to Jamaica a few years ago I had my airfare all booked, a room already paid for, excursions planned, dinner reservations made, and just about everything mapped out that I wanted to do for the week. Then I landed in Jamaica and found out all the resorts were 4 hours away from the airport. There’s nothing worse than arriving to a foreign country and having no idea where to go and no cellphone or internet connection to help you. Do a little research while you still have good service and find out the different forms of transportation from the airport. Most cities have great public transportation and offer cheap trains and busses directly to the city center. Don’t waste your money on a ridiculous cab fare! It also doesn’t hurt to contact your hotel or accommodations and see if they offer shuttles or what they recommend.
12.) Skip the sneakers and jeans
Many places prohit sneakers and jeans from their dress code. Play it safe and just wear practical closed toe shoes and casual slacks. You don’t want to get denied entrance to a site because you don’t have the right pants on.
13.) Pack a scarf
Not only are they handy for on the airplane if you’re chilly, but just like sneakers and jeans being prohibited, many places will also deny entrance if you have bare shoulders or knees. Keep a lightweight scarf in your bag and use it as a shawl or wrap it around your waist if you come across this. That way you can still be comfortable wearing a tanktop in 90 degree weather in Rome, but can also get into the must-see St. Pauls Cathedral without having to change.
14.) Avoid exchanging money at the airport
I always feel more comfortable having a little cash on me when I go to a foreign country, just in case. And while hotel and airport exchange may seem convenient, they have high fees and are notorious for unfavorable exchange rates. Instead, checkout your local bank before you travel. Many banks offer free money exchange and will give you the current exchange rate value.
15.) Pay with plastic
Generally credit cards offer the most favorable exchange rates for changing money, since credit card companies have access to better rates than individuals. It is safer to not be carrying around all your cash, and most credit cards have a great zero liability identity theft protection policy.
16.) Take advantage of the student discount
Most countries offer a student discount to just about every entrance fee. Don’t forget to pack your student ID if you have one, and don’t forget to ask if they give a discount before paying full price! Teachers and military, there’s lots of discounts for you too!
17.) Purchase a pass
Most major cities offer special cards that include discounts or free admission for museums, attractions, tours and public transportation. If you’re planning on seeing several sites on your trip, its definitely worth it to invest in a city pass. This also helps you avoid waiting into buy tickets and some even let you skip the line. Most city passes can be purchased at public transportation stops, like the subway.
18.) Avoid convenience stores
Skip the small, over-priced convenience stores and try to find a supermarket for common items like sunscreen and snacks. A lot of times it’s cheaper to just buy the regular size of something rather than the travel size.
19.) Rent a scooter or ATV
This past year my boyfriend and I found that scooters were by far the best way to get the most out of small towns and islands. We were able to drive the coast of Sardinia, explore all of Santorini, and got around for 3 days in Vieques, Puerto Rico all by scooter. They’re cheap to rent (about $30-$40/day) and gives you the freedom to explore! We spent hours driving around aimlessly, captivated by the amazing views, and were able to pull off to the side of the road for photo-ops and random dives in the ocean, whenever we wanted. Scooters are really easy to maneuver and can be parked just about anywhere. I highly recommend trying it out next time you have the opportunity!
20.) Step away from the strip
Don’t fall for the over-priced tourists traps and get off the main streets. Restaurants and stores will be half the price once you get out of the main city center and you’re likely to get a more authentic meal.
21.) Keep your phone on airplane mode
Not sure about your out of country phone coverage? Just play it safe and keep your phone on airplane mode. It won’t use up any data, and you can still use wifi without the risk of absurd fees.
22.) Check passport policy
Make sure that your passport is valid for the country that you are going to. Obviously, all countries around the world require a valid passport for entry, but a lesser-known requirement for some countries is that a passport must be valid for a certain number of months from the date of entry, or a certain number of months after you leave the country. You would be surprised by the amount of passport and visa restrictions that many countries have. Each country has their own policy. To find out the passport validity requirements and other important information, you can check out the website: travel.state.gov
23.) Keep reading Diaryofawanderlust.com
Of course I had to add this one in here. Keep checking back on my blog for more of my travel tips!
Is there anything specific you’d like me to post about? Let me know!