By Yumi Sakugawa, Intent.com
Are the longer days giving you cabin fever? This year, ditch the staycation and treat yourself to some fabulous spring traveling! You can still enjoy some fun sight-seeing without completely destroying your savings account. Follow these very simple tips to slim down on your travel expenses, and your next dream get-away won’t be a financial nightmare.
1. Always carry a reusable thermos and bring your own drink as much as possible. The two dollars cup of coffee or one dollar bottle of iced tea add up fast over a week. Whether you are using the water boiler in your hotel room to steep your own tea bag or using some fountain water in a clean bottle, bringing your own hot tea, coffee, water or juice will save you a lot of money.
2. Bring your own snacks. Tourist vendors love to spike the snack prices at popular locations. Stock up on the munchies you know you will be craving on the long flight or drive before you leave the house. That way, your cravings won’t fool you into paying five dollars for a small bag of pretzels or three dollars for a bottle of water.
3. Find things off the beaten path. Rather than heading straight for the busiest area where all the tourists congregate, try asking locals for recommendations for entertainment, dining and other fun activities. Chances are you will find a more interesting and much cheaper alternative.
4. Take advantage of the cheaper lunch menu when eating out. Many restaurants offer the same menu at lunch-time but with a cheaper daytime price. By eating out for lunch and eating in for dinner, you can save a lot of money on food expenses and still enjoy yourself.
5. Learn to love the local grocery store. With a little extra effort, you can enjoy your own homemade sandwiches, wine and cheese, and other edibles without the high expenses that come from sitting in a restaurant and tipping your server.
6. Don’t be a clueless traveler. By taking the extra time to research the neighborhoods and events you want to experience, you will not be making potentially expensive mistakes — like being ripped off in public transportation, missing out on seasonal deals, or paying too much for services.
7. Travel to cities and countries where you have a friend or family member you can stay with. Save lots of money by crashing with a family member or friend instead of staying at a hotel. Who in your contacts are living somewhere you’ve been dying to visit? Maybe your old college buddy is now working abroad in Hong Kong, and wouldn’t mind a little extra company for a few days. Or you have some family members in Europe who will love to feed you, house you and of course, see you.
8. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Everyone has different travel priorities; know what yours are so you know where you want to spend and where you want to scrimp. If you are a complete restaurant junkie, you may be willing to stay at really second-rate hotels so you can spend extra money on highly-rated restaurants in the area. Or maybe you are willing to eat bread and cheese slices for the entire week if it means you can check out more concerts, theater shows and night life events.