Budget Travel Tips

Photo of Budget Travel Tips 1/5 by Teaghan

Take your average day, for example, living downtown Toronto. You're looking at [per day] about $60 in rent. Add $30 some odd dollars for food and some groceries for dinner/tomorrows lunch - throw in a bit more for a bottle of wine (you've earned it). You probably took public transport home, that's about 50 a week, or gas + parking, think a couple hundred a week. Living your day to day life ain't cheap. You don't realize the amount of money you spend every day going through the motions of a standard routine.

When you travel, you're forced to budget. Even if you aren't travelling on a dime, no one wants to waste their hard earned money - on anything. Being conscious of a few particular things can actually result in you spending far less while you are away than you would if you had just stayed home doing the same old thing anyway. I like to create an ideal budget that I'd like to spend, from the beginning of planning until I step foot back in my apartment. The more I save in the pre-game, the more I have at my disposal while away. You can make the steps and use these tricks to save you some money before you depart, and while you're abroad.

Photo of Budget Travel Tips 2/5 by Teaghan

Before you're there:

Some standard procedures I always encourage - phone plan and travel insurance. Why come home to a massive cell phone bill when you can get a roaming plan that will only charge you a bit whenever you need it? Get Wi-Fi where you can, and if you can't find any connection or signal, you should probably take a minute to appreciate that fleeting feeling and put the phone down. Emergencies happen though. Maybe we need to open our maps, or look up the next train. Having that plan there saves you a massive dent in the wallet later. Same goes with a health plan. It gives you piece of mind, plus, even if you need to pay directly out of pocket, you can make a claim once you get home and the money will be returned to you... eventually.

Certain currency exchange locations give better rates than others. I personally love Calforex in Toronto, but maybe your bank offers even better rates. As a rule of thumb, I like to leave with at least $500 in currency. Avoid ATM's, they charge you like crazy on top of the fee you're already getting for withdrawing from your cc. If you have a travel-style credit card, these typically offer better exchange rates and a travel insurance plan built in. Also, if you are being handed a POS machine and you get the option to pay in the foreign currency converted or your own currency - pick your own. It converts cheaper in the back-end.

Before just spontaneously booking the first flight you find, consider your options. There may be an airport a bit further away at a cheaper cost that's an inexpensive train ride to where you need to be. Some apps I keep up with are Hopper, Hipmunk, and Momondo. Also, don't always opt into direct. No one enjoys having to rush and change planes smack dab in the middle of their transport, but what if you took the rush out of it? Find routes with longer layovers. Whether its 4 hours or 20 hours, this is an opportunity to check out a city you may have not even planned on seeing before. Pay the $7-odd dollars to keep your bags in airport storage and go explore a bit. In addition, avoid extras like seat selection or added baggage - I've never understood priority boarding either. I'd rather have a bit more time to do some last minute must-do's at the airport, or finish that last beer than the first to be seated on a plane I'm about to be stuck on for the next 9 hours anyway.

Photo of Budget Travel Tips 3/5 by Teaghan

Getting there:

I've surprisingly had some good airplane food in my day. I blame some of my satisfaction based off the fact that I hadn't eaten a whole day prior, but typically, plane food is gross. Pay $15 for a stale breakfast sandwich if you want, but that's a whole meal elsewhere. Eat a big meal before your flight if you can, and grab some snacks at the airport. Avoid beverages of the adult kind while you're at the airport or in flight as well. I drink the odd glass of wine to help me fall asleep better sometimes, but there's literally nothing more uncomfortable than being tipsy in an enclosed space 35,00 feet in the air with a middle seat and a broken seal. Not worth it.

Also, I have this theory that airplanes make the cabins absolutely freezing so that you'll buy the $20 blankets they sell. Grab a neck pillow and small, fleece blanket prior and bundle up. A mention as well, ear plugs and sleep masks save lives. Don't miss out on your beauty sleep cause buddy in front of you insists on having his window up to watch the sunrise.

Sleeping there:

When people think of hostels, a lot of the time you're greeted with the idea of warehouse style accommodations, 30+ people in a room, bed bugs and some seedy interactions. Although I've experienced literally every one of those faux pas in a hostel, there are actually so many really nice reputable ones to look into. Many even offer private rooms which are still less than staying in a hotel. There are some stunning hostels in Asia, Bali for example, that are literal paradise for $10 a day. Location plays a big role on how much you're going to spend as well.

If you're still super turned off by the idea of hostels, home stays and air bnbs are great options as well. You can probably score a better deal on a hotel away from the city centre, but I tend to not go that route. The amount of time it will take you to get to and from, and the cost for taxis will probably have you spending the same as if you had just stayed central.

Photo of Budget Travel Tips 4/5 by Teaghan
Photo of Budget Travel Tips 5/5 by Teaghan

Eating there:

One of my favourite things about visiting a new city is trying out the local cuisines and wines. If you only have a limited amount of time in a place, I say, go to town! Eating out every meal though can add up and is, frankly, unrealistic if you are travelling over a long period of time.

Take advantage of hotel or hostel free breakfasts, even if it is just continental. Pack snacks and water on long day excursions. Get some DIY quick meals at the grocery store (bonus points if your accommodation has a fridge) and some wine bottles. One of my favourite meals in Greece was when me and some new friends grabbed a few bottles of white and red, meats, cheeses and breads, and climbed to the top of a mountain and had a sunset antipasto.

Also, figure out what the tipping customs are in your destination. Some places welcome it, some places find it offensive. Don't dish out more than you have to on tips.

Shopping there:

I always leave some room when I'm packing for some things to bring back. Avoid the touristy souvenir shops and hit up the markets for some handmade jewelry and clothing. You can find some really unique things and get completely swept up in the chaos of an old town flea market.

Other than that, I choose to keep my shopping to a minimum. There's too much good food that requires my hard earned buck instead - but to each their own!

At the end of the day, the destination you travel to will make a big difference on how much you spend. Regardless, there's always little things you can do here and there to take a bit of the burden off of your wallet. If you're fortunate enough to be in a situation where you can airbnb your property out or have a friend rent your place while you're away, thats a huge help as well. Never been that great at math, but one equation that's a given : more money saved = more plane tickets.

Post from Teaghan Marie Travel 

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