So far, we have tried to explain how to reach point B from point A in a fashion that does not harm your budget. Although we have covered various topics from hitch-hiking to interrail, from Couchsurfing to Hostels, we have not had the chance to write about the things to consider once you arrive at your destination. In this article of ours, we have a list of 10 things to consider while wandering cities or trying to satisfy our hunger, be it in Western Europe or America, especially to avoid staring like a stuck pig upon coming across with the food and cigarette prices. So here we go…
1. Buy your food and snacks from non-touristic spots.
You may have the tendency to think that the popular branch of sports, known as ‘tourist rip-off’ exists only in your home country. But this is never the case. It is normally enough for the prices to skyrocket in any destination, only because it is attractive for tourists. For that reason, it is wise to buy your small but important needs like water from places where there are only a few or no tourists. If you are craving to go to a spot full of tourists, buy your water before you go there.
2. Avoid restaurants for dinner.
Especially in the western part of Europe, restaurants are seriously expensive. It is just normal in London to pay 20 pounds for a mid-size pizza and a glass of wine, while in the Netherlands, a full meal at a restaurant may cost you 25 Euros. These prices are quite normal for the local folks (and for you too if you live in a country using the same currency) but when you convert the numbers into your own curreny, you may feel a little bit sad about your choice of restaurant.
For that reason, try to have your meals out of the way through supermarkets. They already have a wide range of products and in a lot of countries where food is expensive, supermarkets have microwaves for customer use. Buy whatever you want for a good price, heat it up and enjoy.
3. Travel off-season.
This one is really simple, but useful. As we always say (as if we invented it) demand and prices are directly proportional. In other words, higher demand means higher prices. Go to your desired destination while the demand is low and take advantage of huge discounts. Let’s take a look at Turkey as an example. In Alanya, Antalya, one of the famous holiday resorts of the country, you normally have to pay over 60 Euros for a night at an all-inclusive holiday resort. But did you know that the room rates are down to 10 Euros in winter? A huge discount, in deed… Although holiday resorts may not serve as the best examples for budget holidays, they still do the trick to understand the demand-price curve. Prefer off-season travels, keep your money in your pocket.
4. Do use travel cards.
Akbil, Oyster Card or Rail Pass, it doesn’t matter. If there are spots in a city that are too far to walk but you still want to see, use such cards to travel within the city. Because this type of travel cards, unlike tech-stores that first mark up the prices and then announce a sale, they are genuinely cheap. What’s more, the more you use these cards within a particular city, the higher becomes the rate of discount. Do use them, especially in cities where you’ll stay for more than 1-2 days.
We already assume that you won’t use taxis (cabs, yeah). Taxis may be really cheap in the Balkan sor Eastern Europe, but still it may cost enough to cover for a full meal of yours. Don’t use them, public transportation is good, public transportation is great.
Loud and clear, walk! Leave your heavy backpack in your hostel (or wherever you choose to stay) and do your sight-seeing on foot. And get lost! I once tried getting lost in London, and I loved it! This way, you can not only save your transportation cost, but also have the opportunity to discover new places which even the locals may not know about. Budget travel is a tiresome task, but the best travel experience comes with budget travel, proven by experience. Briefly, walk!
6. Buy your cigarettes/alcohol at Duty Free Shops.
If you are going to an expensive country as a smoker or drinker, abiding by this item saves you a lot of money. Although Duty Free Shops are predominantly used for gifts on the way back, they reduce your expenses to a great extent when used before you arrive at your destination. Because a package of cigarettes in the UK costs 5-6 Pounds and the same costs 5-6 Euros in Western Europe (may increase depending on the country) and approximately 10 Dollars in the USA. Since Duty Free Shops are also Tax Free, you can buy 10 packages of cigarettes for as low a price as 11-13 Euros. Of course it is best to avoid alcohol and cigarettes, but if you really need to buy them, choose free shops.
7. Eat local food. But really local.
What we mean by ‘local food’ is of course not one of these places occupied by tourists. As a matter of fact, if you see a local restaurant full of tourists, you should simply race away out of sight because you will for sure pay more than usual for ‘local food’ that does not taste like ‘local food’. How would you know anyway?
If possible, find a local person and ask him/her. Because what s/he recommends will not be a touristic restaurant, thus making it possible for you to pay less for the real thing.
8. Do haggle!
You can haggle practically everywhere, especially if you are a foreigner. And yes, this includes your destination as well. Just haggle, even if you make a profit of 2-3 Euros/Dollars/X Currency in every purchase, you can cover at least 1 full meal. Just don’t be shy, if the cause is budget travel. The worst thing that could happen is that you get rejected. No harm will be done. Just haggle.
9. Buy a new and local GSM card.
In some countries, it is really costly to use ‘roaming’ services. If you live in one of those countries, jubilating on how cheap your travel is may result in the disappointment of a heavy, but really heavy phone bill. Simply ask around for the GSM options when you arrive at your destination. Don’t worry, you can find a suitable card in every country for both national and international calls. Plus, they don’t require much, you don’t even fill in a form to buy a card in most countries and most of the new cards have a useful amount of credits when you buy. Make use of them.
10. Consult the locals.
Let us remind you our 7th advice. If you are determined to stay away from the ‘tourist rip-off’ scene in your destination, do what the locals do, eat what they eat and more imporantly, ask them whatever you wonder. Because, naturally, the locals do not prefer touristic areas for food or shopping, making their recommendations in that vein, too. Ask for help, keep your money.
These 10 recommendations (sounds like 10 commandments when you put it like that) we have given you will hopefully keep you from being treated like a tourist or being ripped off. Here’s the summary of the whole article, DO NOT TRY TO BE A TOURIST. Instead, act and live like a local. On that matter, a Roman proverb may come in handy, “Si fueris romae, romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi” which means “If you are in Rome, live in the Roman way, if you are elsewhere, live as they do there”. This way, your travel experience will be much more than checking out the architectural pieces and going back home, adding to your personality through the new culture you face and helping your budget.
For “How can I go there?” questions, visit our Budget Transportation page and,
“Where do I stay?” questions, visit the Budget Accommodation page.
Budget Travel Tips: Upon Arrival / Ucuz Tatil İpuçları: Varış Sonrası
Budget Travel Tips: Upon Arrival / Ucuz Tatil İpuçları: Varış Sonrası