Traveling is much more than visiting the places listed in the guidebook, clicking pictures and buying souvenirs. Travelling is about finding yourself while being lost on a deserted island, watching the sunrise from the top of cliff or attempting your favourite adventure sport and things alike. But when it involves going solo or with a family to a foreign destination, the gifts of travelling manifold.
Indians are well-known for their pro-bargaining skills. We chase the best deal till securing it to the last. So why splurge on foreign vacation when a little planning can help you save big bucks on a foreign holiday? After all, to travel is to live while balancing your finances.
8 handy tips to help you save money on your next international trip:
The fun of Do-It-Yourself trip
What if you book a travel package and the itinerary created by your travel agent misses the local tour of the ancient city in your next foreign destination, or skips the amusement park?
Creating your own travel itinerary and package can be a lot more fun and wise thing to do. From booking flights, signing up for hotel room with the best view to making reservation for the local food tour, planning a foreign vacation can be the ultimate joyride. A step-by-step travel checklist can take away the stress of thinking over what the travel package that you intend to buy might include or exclude.
There is no dearth of information on the internet that can help you customise your trip to suit your whims and fancies.
In fact, many travel experts recommend days when it comes to booking airfare. Regular travellers know the best deals are found departing on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday and returning on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Why Hotel when you can AirBnB it?
If you’re not a spendthrift, a 4/5 star hotel accommodation is what you may not be looking for in any case. Destinations like Paris or New York and alike can be notoriously expensive but wise stay decisions can still make it affordable for the budget traveller.
If you are travelling solo and your focus is more on experiencing the destination, exploring budget-friendly options in terms of hotels, hostels and dormitories can help you strike the best deal.
You may not get the best view but best deal is mostly just a click away. New age businesses like AirBnB
have revolutionized the way people travel the world. The community allows travellers to rent an apartment, sea-side villa, or a humble cottage in the valley giving you that unique travel experiences. It is like living like a local in a foreign city - ‘a home away from home’.
is another wonderful online community that helps connect travellers and locals. This mutual arrangement ensures a cosmopolitan experience for both parties.
You should give a thought to these options; they can help you save serious bucks and not burn a hole in the pocket.
Hit the street and gorge on local food
Half the fun of a foreign vacation lies in exploring local food markets but when you’re looking to save money, this is also one of the areas where you may not want to spend big.
Exploring “meal of the day” option in a local restaurant can be a wise choice since meals are generally unavoidable, especially during the road trip.
Avoid asking concierges (when staying in a hotel) for recommendations of places to eat in the city. They usually have a set list of (pricey) restaurants/spots in the city especially near the tourist spots one is ought to visit. Instead, refer to travel guidebooks for lists of the best cheap food in a city.
You should also read a few local food blogs before heading on to an overseas trip. Oh, and it’s best to be aware of your food allergies as all local food may not suit you. After all, you definitely don’t want to end up with an upset stomach in a foreign city.
Use public transport and city passes to explore the city
Explore upcoming city walks in the destination you are heading to. These inexpensive daytrips offer the visitors a different & localised perspective on the history and culture of the city.
In case your trip involves visiting places of interest, check if the local transport is a feasible option to get you around the city and other sites and museums. Using public transport is a cost-effective option to save money, in fact in many Asian and European countries, picking a rail pass gives access to unlimited passage on local railway network.
Look out to buy city passes and save on admissions to some of the (destination) city’s’ most iconic attractions.
Get a VAT refund on your shopping at the airport
VAT is value added tax that works as a general consumption tax assessed on the value addition to goods and services.
While travelling to a foreign nation, things like staying in a hotel, hiring a car, using a phone, shopping, and more make travellers entitled to VAT refunds. For business travellers, such refund is also available on restaurant bills, conference and exhibition charges. Different countries have different rates and set of items on which one can avail VAT.
Carry your passport when you're out shopping in a foreign city and fill out the VAT refund form available at most of the shops.
You can avail VAT refunds at the airport of the final destination. So, reach the airport a little ahead of your departure since the refund formalities can take up anything from 30-45 minutes.
You won’t want foreign travel to be a messy affair in case medical exigencies and travel inconveniences like loss of passport and delay in checked-in baggage strike.
With medical treatment costs sky-rocketing globally, a travel insurance policy
costing you as low as Rs. 500 (depending on the country of visit) can be a real saviour in the event of an unforeseen medical emergencies in a foreign land.
Before heading to a foreign holiday buy a suitable travel insurance plan in advance to prepare against any type of exigency that may derail your travel plans. It is easy to buy travel insurance online
If you travel abroad more than once in a year, buying an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy
is makes sense as it’s cheaper than multiple single trip travel insurance policies. Think of Travel insurance as an investment and not an expense.
Make your phone your smart ally
A smart phone can be a very handy money-saving travel buddy. There are numerous apps in the market to answer any travel query including subjects like travel guides, maps, phrasebooks and language guides. You can easily download these on your phone and save money that goes into paying for numerous activities.
Keep Forex cards handy
Skipping research on currency exchange rates can be a mistake, it’s prudent to check the forex premium charged by your international debit or credit card. Indian banks charge nearly 3-4% over the prevalent exchange rate on their cards. You can save on this premium by buying a prepaid Forex card. It’s advisable to take along a pre-paid forex card specially to Europe and US.
With a bevy of smartphone apps available, it is easy to navigate currency conversion, budgeting and even tipping norms in the particular country. Oanda app pinpoints foreign exchange rates for any world currency while also creating currency rate comparison tables. Budgeting app such as Mint is a cool tool to track your expenses in real time.
Read five things you must carry on your next business trip abroad.
Have any other money-saving tip during foreign holiday?