1. Stay in an Airbnb apartment – Airbnb has truly revolutionized how we can travel. Pulling up an app, zooming in on a map, and scrolling through various pictures of apartments in a city, you can find a entire apartment or room to stay in for a very affordable price. Sometimes, even less than what it would cost for you to rent an apartment in your city!
At first, I was a little concerned about staying in random person’s apartment, but after realizing that people are just people, trying to make a bit of extra money, I felt more at peace staying in an Airbnb apartment. Having a kitchen, fridge, closet, and other creature comforts of a home, also make the stay much more like living, rather than travel. Not to mention, having a kitchen gives you the ability to cook some meals and save some money on food eaten out. You may even find a magical little porch to prop your feet up after a long day of walking to enjoy the last drop of the day’s sunshine.
2. Only eat out one time per day – Food expenditures can make up a big chunk of travel costs, particularly if you are a food lover like myself. My advice is to find out which is the most important meal of the day, wherever you are, and eat just that meal out. The other small meals, particularly if you are staying in an Airbnb (as recommended in my first point), can be eaten in your apartment. For example, your meals could be could be eating a banana and a yogurt at home for breakfast, going out for lunch, and then having a sandwich at home for dinner. As you can see in the pictures below, ordering enough food at lunch time to fill you up for the rest of the day is pretty easy (or at least, it has been for me in these South American countries)!
This takes me to my next point about where you should go for your one meal of the day…
3. Find the local spots – The internet now has so many articles, rating sites, and applications that I often find it overwhelming. I can’t even decide where I should go to have just a normal black coffee!
My recommendation is to find out where the locals eat outside their homes. Take a walk, see where people are going, what restaurants are full, or what kind of foods people have in their hands, walking down the road. Eating at local places could also include food trucks, a stand on the side of the road selling corn, or an open air market. These are the types of places that the people who live there eat at, and not the 5-star Michelin rated restaurant with a good salmon, which let’s be honest, you could probably find in your hometown. But the hot dog on the side of the road, served with too much sauce, peas, carrots and corn, well, I don’t think you will find it made quite like that at home.
4. Drink “illegal” water – Don’t ever buy water unless you have to. I call it “illegal” water, because if you keep refilling a water bottle with tap water and bring it with you all day, you are likely going to have it with your lunch, when restaurants rarely let you bring in drinks from outside. But usually, they don’t care so much. You just have to be sneaky.
The first thing you need to do when arriving to a new city is find out whether you can drink the tap water. If the water in the tap is not safe to drink, then you are going to be stuck spending money on bottles of water, or stick to beer if that’s cheaper (as sometimes it is!). However, if the tap water is safe to drink, there’s a easy way to save some money by not having to buy bottled water.
5. Be thoughtful about souvenirs – There is SOOO much crap that is sold to tourists. If there is some unique gift you can buy, then by all means get it. But, the more I travel, the more I realize how most of it is all the same everywhere I go – woven bags, key chains, over-sized tee-shirts, mugs, the list goes on…
Be thoughtful about your gifts you bring back to your family and friends. If you know someone who collects magnets, then buy them a magnet. But what’s important is to think about whether the souvenir is special, and if not, save yourself the money and give them just a big hug when you see them next.
While I know traveling is a wonderful, beautiful privilege, it doesn’t have to involve spending a fortune. I hope these tips help you start dreaming about your next trip!