Save vs. Splurge: How to Travel on a Budget

Traveling abroad can be costly”but it doesn’t have to be if you’re a little savvy and know where to save a few bucks. Here’s where you can save and where you should splurge when you’re traveling.

SAVE: Play the credit card game

No, not the one where you max out a bunch of credit cards and you have no means to pay them back; that game isn’t very fun. The one where you rack up points on your credit card so you can get travel rewards, and if you do it strategically, you can use the credit card for day-to-day payments that you’re already spending money on. If you pay your Internet, cell phone and grocery bills with the credit card, your points will start building before you know it. A lot of travel credit cards have signing bonuses for extra incentive, so make sure to compare a few options. Be wary though, travel credit cards usually have higher interest rates, so be diligent about paying off your balance.

SPLURGE: Stick to bottled water

No matter how many preemptive drugs you take for diarrhea, it’s not something you want to gamble with. Like at all. You definitely don’t want to find out if you have an iron stomach by putting it to the test with unfiltered water. Even if the water is filtered, it may not be up to the same standards as we’re accustomed to in Canada. Although bottled water isn’t always cheap, it’s worth it for the peace of mind knowing you won’t get sick.

SAVE: If you’re traveling with your partner, look at private hostel rooms instead of a hotel

When you think hostel, you likely think massive dorm rooms and a lot of beer pong. While this is accurate in a lot of cases, most hostels have private rooms (even with private bathrooms!), which can be the perfect getaway for you and your significant other. It will still be way more affordable than springing for a hotel, and you can get the privacy you’re after. If you’re not planning on spending a lot of time there during the day, it doesn’t matter what your digs look like.

SPLURGE: Invest in some quality rain gear

Probably the worst feeling in the world is feeling damp and wet, and knowing you have to go through the rest of your day soggy. That’s actually the worst. You don’t want to let inclement weather stop you from exploring, so make sure you have a decent rain jacket and a waterproof bag (or cover for your backpack) to keep you and your stuff dry and comfortable! It’s a good idea to have waterproof casing for important documents (i.e. passport) just to make sure nothing gets ruined. Better safe than sorry!

SAVE: Be your own chef

If you’re in the same spot for a few days, hit the local market and grab some breakfast essentials. If you have a hearty breakfast in the morning, you won’t be starving all day, and you can limit the amount you spend on snacks and at restaurants. A good rule of thumb for buying fruits at the market is to stick with the ones that have peels. Bananas, melons, and mangoes are your friends! Fruits are washed with local water, which can easily upset your stomach if you’re not used to it”it’s better to choose fruits where you remove the peel, and that way you can avoid the water situation all together.

SPLURGE: When in doubt, vaccinate

Even if you’re diligent with using hand sanitizer and sticking with bottled water, you can pick up a parasite and it can seriously put a damper on your plans. Although vaccines can be costly, they’ll keep you protected and can potentially save you from prescriptions or hospital visits abroad, which can prove even more costly. Not to mention, vaccines typically last for a few years, so you can get some serious millage with your travels!

SAVE: Book your first couple of nights, and then explore the town

Depending on where you’re going, you may not need to book every accommodation from home. Booking the first night or two makes sense, so once you arrive you won’t have to stress about finding a place on the spot, but often times you’ll find better deals once you’re there than what’s listed online. After spending a day wandering around the city and chatting with locals, you’re sure to find a hidden treasure that doesn’t come up on Google.

Tags: travel on a budget, travel tips

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