Here are 10 tips on how to get the most out of any city you visit without breaking the bank.
1. Do your research
This is self‐explanatory, but it begs repeating: find out as much as you can about your intended destination! Compare flight rates, hotel rates, find out the price of bus passes, how much it costs to see various sights, how expensive it is to eat there, and so on. If some things exceed your budget, you’ll be able to scratch them off your list and find cheaper alternatives-or switch destinations altogether.
2. Pack accordingly
A lot of people end up spending more money while on vacation than anticipated because they did not take the weather, among other things, into consideration. Come prepared with an umbrella, a warm sweater, a hat, sunscreen, etc. You may end up not having to use them, but at least you and your wallet won’t have been caught off‐guard if you do!
3. Don’t fly
If your destination isn’t too far away, opt for taking a bus or train rather than purchasing an expensive plane ticket. You’ll probably arrive a tad later than if you’d flown, but you’ll have spent less money. Plus, if you’re with friends, the drive can be fun and will be a good vacation memory in itself.
4. Choose a hotel away from the city
While it may be fun to stay in the centre of any major city, the closer you stay to its hub, the more you’ll pay. If you’re visiting San Francisco, for example, don’t find a hotel smack‐dab in the centre of the city. Stay in Oakland just across the Bay, and take public transport into the city and back.
5. Use public transport
Never, ever drive a car through a foreign city. Getting lost is all part of visiting a new city, but it’s not so fun when you’re paying extra money on gas due to all the detours you’re making. Plus, some roads can be so congested (such as in Los Angeles), you’ll be stuck in traffic when you could be seeing the sights. Renting a car is also rather costly, so pick up an all‐purpose transit pass, and go!
6. Invest in phone cards
Using your cellphone to call home may be quick and easy, but you’ll be hit with roaming charges and your next bill could be astronomical! So leave your cell back home, and pick up a phone card instead: they’re usually just $5 a piece and, if you choose the right one, you will be provided with more than enough minutes to tell family and friends what a great time you’re having!
7. Do it yourself
While guided tours can be fun and informative, they can be rather costly. Invest in a map and a travel book, put on your walking shoes, and see all the sights on your own. While being led through Boston’s Freedom Trail by a lively costumed guide can be fun, you can still get interesting facts
about any sight from your own literature, as well as placards placed at each stop. You also won’t be constrained to a group, and can see everything at your own pace.
8. Do it for free
One can definitely see some of the best city sights for free. Most museums hold free admission days at least once per month so, if possible, try and plan your museum visits around its schedule. Another example: while the Staten Island Ferry in New York City may not take you directly to the Statue of Liberty, you get a free ferry ride and great views of Ellis Island. You can definitely find similar deals in any city you visit-all you need is a bit of time to research and plan ahead!
9. Make your own meals
We’re not telling you to be frugal on food: after all, when in a new city, one must try the local cuisine! But go to a nearby grocery store and pick up some necessities: cereal, toast, fruit, peanut butter and jam… Eat breakfast at the hotel, and make sandwiches to eat while seeing the sights during the day. That’ll help with your food budget, letting you indulge in someplace fancy for dinner.
10. Act like a local
One of the best things anyone can do is avoid tourist traps. They cater to tourists and, thus, price accordingly. This includes eateries, souvenir shops, and even attractions. Avoid buying too many kitschy refrigerator magnets or keychains; they are usually way overpriced. Instead, buy something cool (like a new hat or top); you’ll look like a local, be reminded of your vacation, and be able to name‐drop to your friends. (“This? Oh, I picked it up in London…”)
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for This Week on readersdigest.ca newsletter and have our latest articles delivered right to your inbox.