Vacations are supposed to be laid-back and carefree, right? But sometimes our financial worries can hover over our heads like pesky little flies, distracting us from all that fun we're supposed to be having! Most of us are aware of the benefits of hostels, AirBnB, and signing up for credit cards with zero foreign transaction fees, but there are other travel hacks that can save you a nice chunk of cash. So why not have the time of your life on your next vacation without all the stress of spending?
1. Unique Lodging Arrangements
Get this! If you don't need a swanky hotel to satisfy your wanderlust, you could actually find a place to crash for free.
Yes, you read correctly-free.
CouchSurfing, for instance, allows bold backpackers to search all over the globe for good-natured, friendly hosts willing to offer complimentary accommodations. Other hospitality hubs, such as GlobalFreeloaders and Stay4Free, offer similar services, but with a catch-you'll have to pay it forward and offer other fellow travelers a place to stay at your humble abode as well.
2. Recover Losses While Globetrotting
While you're zip-lining in the rainforests of Costa Rica, did you know that you can make money off your vacant home? If you're nervous about listing your place on AirBnB, consider Camp in My Garden. This service allows travelers to rent out their yards while they're out exploring the world and you can make up to $15 per person, which could easily add up to pay for a few meals on your vacation. You could also do the same with your unoccupied parking space, thanks to JustPark, earning anywhere from $10 to $25, depending on your location.
3. Skip the Escargot and Filet Mignon
"You do not need a silver fork to eat good food," Paul Prudhomme once said. So why not try street food and get a totally new experience? Nibble on arepas in Bogotá or munch on curry fish balls in Hong Kong. Shake off the laziness, check out a farmer's market, and cook your own food. Not only will you get to explore the local, exotic produce, but you'll significantly slash your dining expenses in the process.
Here's a tip: If there's a coffee machine available, you can actually use it to steam vegetables or cook porridge. Just place your items of choice in the carafe, add water, and voilà! You've got dinner without all the clunky pots and pans!
4. Don't Be Such a Tourist
Please, for the sake of your pockets, try not to be such a tourist. This doesn't mean you have to nix the floral button-down shirts or the telltale flip flops of a foreigner. Instead, steer yourself clear of tourist traps, such as expensive, well, everything. Travel afficionado Matt Kepnes urges border hoppers to venture at least six blocks away from major landmarks to avoid paying unnecessary sky-high prices. Quite often, you can find the same merchandise for half the cost if you're willing to walk just a little further.
As well, you should consider traveling like the natives. Chances are that the most popular mode of transportation is also the cheapest. So surrender your dependence on taxis and hop in those tuk-tuks in India or guaguas in the Dominican Republic. You'll save a ton of cash and gain a whole new collection of memories.
5. A Ton of Attractions for a One-Time Fee
If you enjoy flushing money down the drain, feel free to pay separate entrance fees for every landmark you visit. But if you prefer to save money, the better option is to purchase a tourism card, which gives visitors access to a slew of sightseeing gems all for a one-time fee.
Norway's Oslo Pass for example, offers visits to 30 museums and attractions, outdoor swimming pools, walking tours, and more. But here's the icing on the cake-cardholders also get access to free public transportation. Major score!
The Oslo Pass is a little over $40 for one day. With each museum in Oslo costing $12 to $15, it doesn't take a lot to get more bang for your buck.
6. Only Carry What You Intend to Spend
It's so easy to mindlessly swipe your ATM card and spend frivolously without a care in the world-until you get jolted right back down to earth the minute you check your bank account. Solution? Only carry as much as you intend to spend and leave your card at home. Sure you'll smack yourself for not bringing more cash when you spot an awesome souvenir, but trust me, your finances will thank you later.
And speaking of ATM cards, here's a tip: Get a Charles Schwab card. Not only will you be able to steer clear of ATM foreign transaction fees, but you'll be reimbursed for any other fees you might happen to rack up from other banks.
7. Choose Destinations That Give More "Oomph" Per Dollar
Set your sights on countries where you can get more "oomph" for your dollar. In some places like Great Britain, weak American singles won't get you that far. But while the U.S. dollar might be a bit of a wimp in London, it might stand a fighting chance in places such as Asia or the Caribbean. A quick currency rate check should give you ideas of where to go.
Globetrotting doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can save (and even make) money while traveling the world, just so long as you're armed with the right awesome travel hacks.