3 months ago I shared how to travel on a budget, particularly when it comes to trips where you do mostly driving in your own country. However, many times travel involves flying and going international.
My family and friends know that I travel a lot for my job, which is great fun for me and such a privilege. In my many travels, I have learned a few things about budgeting and saving money on an international adventure, and I want to share some of my tips with you today!
1. Bring your own food. Airport food is a rip-off. Some of you may already know this, but it is ridiculous. Sometimes you have no other option but to buy a meal in the airport, and that’s the way that it goes, but sometimes you have the luxury to plan ahead.
If it works with your travel schedule, bring a meal or snacks that you made at home or purchased at the store. Even buying snacks like chips and granola bars at the grocery store ahead of time will save you a ton of money compared to the prices in the airport and on airplanes. (I never travel without a snack in my bag – you never know when you’ll need to eat something and you’ll thank yourself when your only option is a $4 bag of chips or a $3 bottle of water!)
I once saw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at an airport for $5. Let’s stop the madness – bring your own food (and water bottle) if possible.
2. Think about what souvenirs you want to buy ahead of time. Knowing what kinds of gifts and souvenirs you want to bring home before you go shopping is a great thing to do to help you eliminate unnecessary shopping. When I am in a local market or souvenir store, I want to buy everything because it all looks so cute and fun. One of the things I ask myself when I am looking at something I want to buy is “Will this still be cool when I get back home?” Usually the answer is no.
If you travel a lot, it may be helpful to think of one thing that you like collecting or buying for certain friends and family members that can be your “go-to” souvenir. For me, I really like nativity scenes, and can usually find ones that are decently priced when I travel. These are a fun decoration that I bring out for just a month or so every year, and they remind me of the place I visited (see the llama one I picked up from Peru – hilarious!).
For some of my good friends, I always buy them some kind of carved or crafted bird (usually a duck if I can find it). Knowing what I want to buy allows me to have a focus when I shop for souvenirs so that I am not distracted by all of the “cool” things I could bring home.
3. Think local. If you’re able to find a nice local who will show you around town and show you where the locals shop – you’re bound to get a better deal. Tourist markets often have marked up prices because they assume that you as a tourist might not know better. Having a local friend will change the price that you’re given at a market.
Even better is if you have a few phrases memorized in the local language so that you can bargin like a pro!
4. Dive into the culture. Don’t just hang out with all of the white people – go to local places to experience culture and food. You’ll save a bit of money eating local, and you’ll have a much more authentic experience of the place you are visiting. The best tacos I ever had in my life were outside of someone’s house on a little street in Mexico. My Mexican friends trusted the owners and went with me – and we had the most delicious meal without spending much at all!
5. Research. Make sure you do a little researching beforehand to know what you want to see when you are there so that you can plan your trip out before you go.
We once had a layover in London overnight, and Fred researched a fun local restaurant to eat at and printed a map of the subway before we went so that we knew what we were doing. It ended up being so helpful to have a route mapped out because we didn’t have a lot of time to see the sights!
6. Bring US dollars to exchange for local currency. For my American friends, this makes sense, but it’s a good reminder for those of us who live in Canada. Many places don’t take Canadian money when exchanging, so it’s good to save the hassle and come prepared. You’ll save a hefty bank fee and a headache.
These are just a few of my tips for travelling! What are some of your travel tips? Comment below – I’d love to learn from your experiences!