Here are some tips for saving on your vacation during this worldwide economic crisis. With planning, you should be able to come home without worrying about how much you’ve racked up on your credit card – and you’ll have more money for your next trip!
Vacations should be a time to relax and enjoy yourself, even though we are all facing one of the world’s biggest economic crisis periods in history. Holidays can be expensive, but with a few handy hints, you’ll be able to get more for your moolah and not lose your lira.
1. Go off-season. Traveling during non-peak periods is one of the easiest ways to save money. Arriving in prime time usually means paying heftier prices – not to mention the crowds. The cost of hotels alone can drop by as much as 50% if you go off-peak. Seasons vary around the world, so check with local tourist bureaus to find when the best bargains can be had. The Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory can help you out there.
2. Avoid hidden hotel costs. Delve into the fine print when you make a hotel booking and research any extras you may be billed for during your stay. These can range from parking and Internet access fees to billings for safe deposit boxes and automatic ‘resort fees’ whether or not you use facilities. In-room phones are convenient, but can add hefty charges when it’s time to check out.
3. Use public transportation. Public transportation is there for a reason. Grab a map, jump on with the locals, and cruise your way around the city without having to dip into your pocket for taxis or car rentals. Bonus: No parking worries!
4. Fly on a Tuesday, Thursday, or national holiday. As long as they aren’t part of a long weekend, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the quietest times for airlines, and you’re likely to save a bit of money if you fly then. Busier days mean higher prices, so why not fly out on a national holiday? Most people will be in a rush to get home for a certain day, but very few will actually fly on that day.
5. Research your destination. Most cities have programs to help tourists save money, such as travel passes for public transport or multiple-attraction passes. (These can be especially useful if you’re traveling with a family.) The London Pass and New York Pass are two good examples of how to save money on attractions and restaurants. Do your homework and avoid paying top dollar for everything. There are numerous websites dedicated to easing the strain of travel. Travel.agoda.com is just one example of a website where users can pass their knowledge along to other travelers. Join in, contribute, and make travel better (and cheaper) for everyone.
6. Keep an eye on currency. Make sure you’re prepared for using a different currency. Check the exchange rates at Oanda or XE before you leave and think about how much currency you will need. It’s good to have some small bills when you get off the plane for tips at the airport, payments for taxis, or tips at the hotel. In many countries you can use an ATM at the airport, so think about how much you’ll want to withdraw before you get there.
Local ATMs usually have the best exchange rates, as the rates are based on bank-to-bank relationships; but remember, they may also have fees. It may be better to take out a single large amount through a local ATM than to use an airport currency service. Hotels are notorious for unfavorable exchange rates. Check your bank’s overseas fees for ATMs before you leave and check to see which countries support your ATM card. Be wary of non-bank ATMs in smaller shops that may carry extra charges (which should be indicated on the machine).
Call your credit card provider before you leave to find out what, if any, charges you’ll face when using your credit card abroad. Transaction fees can range from 2-5%, a considerable sum after a few swipes. Don’t forget to tell your provider when you’re traveling abroad, as they may deny ‘suspicious’ foreign transactions.
7. Swap lunch for dinner. Who says dinner must be the main meal of the day? Lunch prices are considerably lower than their evening equivalents, so swapping meal times around can save a bundle. Have a hearty meal mid-afternoon and something lighter in the evening
With a bit of planning, you should be able to come home without worrying about how much you’ve racked up on your MasterCard. Bonus: You’ll have more money in the kitty for your next trip!