Most of the travel we discuss on this site takes us through natural areas and on broader tours of countries around the world. This is generally the best way to experience nature and to really get a feel for what a whole country has to offer. Passing through cities is often part of the experience however, and can also be a vital part of an enriching travel experience. It’s in the cities where you can often get more of a feel for a unique culture or, for lack of a better term, “vibe” – not to mention you can relax and have a little fun if the rest of your trip has been a little more active.
The only trouble is that it’s also in the cities where you can easily wind up spending a little too much money! Simply put, it costs very little to kayak down a river for half a day (minus perhaps renting the boat or possibly signing up for a tour). In a city, you can spend as much in half an hour doing any number of things, and still have a day’s worth of activities remaining. But we have a few tips – some general, some fairly specific – on how to avoid racking up too many expenses the next time you find yourself in a fun city abroad.
Have A Plan For Getting Around
This article on saving money on transportation costs suggests a lot of ideas, from renting a car to using buses and trains, even providing a list of bike-friendly cities around the world. Other articles on the same general topic remind you to walk as much as you can, both to get a feel for the city and to save money. Putting it all together, we’d just recommend planning your city transportation in advance. Every city is different, but you can usually find some handy tips, whether on affordable public transportation, walking routes, or in some cases how to negotiate with local cap drivers. If you go in blind, you’re more likely to spend too much getting around.
Book Based On Location
A lot of times, people budgeting carefully for travel will flock to the cheapest hotel or the nicest hostel. But this can sometimes be counterintuitive, if these places are out of the way. For instance, if there’s a $100/night hotel right in the middle of the action, and a $50/night one outside the city from which it’s going to cost you $30 to get into the city, there really isn’t much difference – and you’re losing more time on transportation. Sometimes your budget is your budget and that’s that, but make sure you don’t book a cheap place only to end up spending more time and money than you need to getting around.
Guide Your Own Tour
One of the easiest ways to drop $100 or more in a foreign city is to sign up for a tour. It seems like a nice, all-encompassing way to explore the city, particularly if you have limited time. It can be just that, but today we have so many tourism resources it’s almost a silly expense. Instead, consider taking the time to read through travel blogs, guidebooks, and even related apps to the extent that you can outline your own tour, for free.
Skip The Nightclubs
A city’s nightlife will often be prominent when you’re looking up things to do there, and that usually means a list of pulsing nightclubs with great reputations. If that’s really your scene, and you really like dancing in big crowds to loud music, by all means have at it. Plenty of people love nothing better. However, if you’re just looking for a recommended local spot for drinks after dark, run a specific search for local bars instead. Nightclubs are almost always going to be more expensive, and you can often find a little bit more of an authentic vibe (and more affordable, local drinks) at a more traditional bar.
Skip The Casinos
You might be surprised, if you dip into city tourism, how many cities around the world still count casinos among their best entertainment options or attractions. From little towns in the Caribbean to major destinations like London and Sydney, casinos are still quite prominent. However, they’re also overpriced versions of what, these days, are the equivalent of online games you can play at home. There are all kinds of casino games you can access online from home, and this site detailing online options in Australia gets into the various betting options you can find as well. That is to say, casino games and sportsbook betting alike are now accessible from all over the world – there’s no need to spend more on them in person just because you’re in a city with a prominent casino.
Literally speaking you don’t really have a choice but to eat local when you’re in a given place, but what we mean is to aim for the more nondescript, authentic places where the locals like to eat – not the more famous and inevitably pricier tourist traps. This read on saving money on food actually had a brilliant tip, which was to avoid asking hotel concierges where you ought to eat, because they usually have lists of just those pricey tourist traps to suggest. Instead, the article recommends you consult a local bartender on where he likes to eat, or look up a guide specifically of off-the-beaten path options or local favorites, etc. You may miss out on a fine meal now and then, but you’ll save money and get a better version of the experience by eating the food people actually eat there on a day-to-day basis.
There are many more ways to save while traveling, but these are a few general tips we thought would be helpful for people who do a lot of traveling and occasionally find themselves in foreign cities.