As Kvitka mentioned, we’re both saving to head down to Europe together next summer. We’re so excited for it that we decided to share some travel advice that’s researched throughly and which we’ll also be putting into action next year!
1.Smart and safe money handling: Exchanging money at the country of choice is a popular idea. Exchanging currency at a new country can be unsafe for tourists because of pickpockets, short-changers and you can lose your wad of cash while travelling. Instead consider getting a travellers cheque or use credit cards! MasterCard, Visa and AE are widely accepted and cards are much safer to carry around. Plus you can call your credit card company to cancel a card if stolen or lost!
2. Shopping outside of downtown areas! This is so important in order to avoid tourist traps. Tourists pay way more for stuff than locals do, not because of how low the CAD dollar is but because we’re just overcharged. To avoid this, tread off the beaten path, travel to another smaller, less touristy city and send your money there. I promise the products are exactly the same!
3. Public transport: It’s really the best way to travel. Cars need insurance and fuel and you’ll need to focus on driving instead of what you paid to travel there to do–enjoy the sights! And forget about taxis unless you’re not on a budget, most are ridiculously expensive. If you’re country hopping in Europe, select a base country from where to travel (preferably a cheap one), buy a Eurail Pass and select a train from the thousands that are zooming across the continent. Additionally, countries like Switzerland make their own passes, that give you free access to almost all national/local trains, 400 museums and discounts on much else. Plus, you can get a Youth Discount on both if you’re under 26!
4. Travel light! This is the cardinal rule. Why do you need all that makeup and all those clothes? Think of all those reasons and try and use those excuses when you’re lugging your luggage down staircases, down the train and across the city. Instead, bring chic, versatile pieces you love being photographed in and are comfortable enough to camp out in! Pack light so you have space for that chocolate and cheese you want to cart back home! The Savvy Backpacker is so useful and give excellent advice on travel and packing!
5. Book hotels with complementary breakfast. Seriously, it saves the $$! Sneak a few fruits off the breakfast and you have a light lunch ready to go! 😉 I don’t promote stealing (technically it isn’t because you’re just saving your breakfast for later) but if you’re on a budget, find ways to spend thriftly. Also, if you save up on breakfast and dinner, you get to splurge a little on fancy local cuisine.
6. Hostels, or local hotels (usually outside of downtown) and Airbnb’s are your best bet usually. But you can find excellent deals right next to a subway station that will cart you to the city centre in minutes or stay right in the heart of the action for very little-it can be done! Wanna save big bucks and still live comfortably? Research, research and research. Those deals exist, go and find them. Key things to always look for? Free WiFi, complementary breakfasts and private bathrooms. Find all three and you’ve found a keeper.
7. Make a list of things you want to try like local cuisine, that scary bungee rope jump and that hot air balloon ride in Turkey! All those things don’t come cheap so make an itinerary and a budget plan. Outline the costs, what you’re willing to spend, don’t get caught in tourist trap attractions. You worked hard for that cash, don’t part with it willingly. Also, save up for unique souvenirs that you know you’ll for a long time.
8. If you’re exchanging currency, do it at a legitimate institution and legitimate ATM Otherwise you might get short-changed by sneaky ‘currency-exchange’ people or get hit with huge fees when withdrawing at the ATM. Instead, use credit cards or find a legitimate exchange place on the country’s tourist website with your hotel’s/train station free WiFi.
9. Travel off-season. Kvitka already covered this but it’s pretty important. Find out the best months to travel through Google analysis (Flights) and that’s where you’ll find your best deals. Even if booking with a travel agent, do your own research before booking to see you can find better deals!
10. See if hotel sells bundles for tourists like passes for tourist attractions! Talk to your hotel managers or information desk. Even visit the country’s Tourist Information Centre because they usually have deals and advice ready to hand out (for free!). Also, read reviews for everything before going. Travellers are always honest and eager to share their experience. Have a positive or negative experience? Make sure to give the place a review so others can benefit from your wisdom!
That’s all the advice I’ve amassed this month from my travel research! I really hope you enjoyed this series. It was great fun to write and we hope it’s useful to you. Any questions or comments? Leave ’em in the comment section below!
Until next time,