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10 Ways to Save Money in the World’s Most Expensive Cities

Oslo, Tokyo, Sydney: these are just some of the world’s most beautiful cities to visit – and also the priciest! Before heading out to explore amazing locations like these, read our tips on how to enjoy the world’s most famous cities without digging too deep into your pockets.

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Local bistro in Verona, ItalyPhoto: Shutterstock

Eat Where the Locals Eat

You probably don’t want to dish out the equivalent to your monthly rent on one meal, so instead of opting for the restaurant mentioned on your hotel map, ask the locals where they like to eat. Since they know the city well, they know where to find the best food at the best prices. You’ll end up with a deliciously authentic meal without the tourist-heavy price tag. If you’re in a city where you don’t speak the language well, do a quick search online for reviews from past travellers.

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Travelling by train is cheap in even in the most expensive citiesPhoto: Shutterstock

Travel by Train

Especially when travelling in Europe, getting around by train can be your cheapest alternative. In fact, when booking two or more weeks in advance, you’ll get an even cheaper rate than you would on the day of travel. Cab rides and even buses in the most expensive cities can be costly and unreliable. So be prepared and book from home, in advance. That way you’ll avoid unexpected travel charges. Another bonus to travelling by train, aside from the total comfort of today’s high-speed trains, is that you can actually enjoy the scenery along the way.

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Temple in Kyoto, JapanPhoto: Shutterstock

Book an Organized Tour

The idea of following a group may not be too appealing to you but leisure tours are actually the best way to experience a vacation at a minimal cost. Leisure tours give you the benefit of group rates and the freedom to explore on your own. You simply can’t get the same hotel and transportation rates on your own. When abroad, this can be a very inexpensive and convenient way to travel. Plus, you won’t have the headache of organizing your transportation along the way all on your own.

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Traditional French breakfastPhoto: Shutterstock

Pay For Breakfast in Advance

When booking a hotel, select the package that includes breakfast, if available. It may seem like you’re spending more for nothing but when you arrive at your destination with no pre-paid meal, you may be surprised by how much you will be charged for a continental breakfast. To keep your rates lower and prevent surprise charges, pre-paying your meal is the best way to go.

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Woman drinking bottle of waterPhoto: Shutterstock

Pack Water Bottles with You

If possible, stock up on water at the local corner store before heading out on your daily adventure. In warm destinations, tourists far too often find themselves burnt out, exhausted and dehydrated by midday. And yes, there are merchants who take advantage of this. Ever purchased a bottle of water at 2:00 p.m. in front of the shade-less Colosseum in Rome? The price for a bottle of water can be extremely high (sometimes more than $10 CDN) and at the end of a week or two, can really start to add up. Purchase your water in the morning, when the weather is cool, from a less popular area. You’re less likely to get ripped off and you’ll have plenty of fluids with you for the day.

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Quaint town in SwitzerlandPhoto: Shutterstock

Travel During Low Season

Even the most expensive cities in the world have low tourist seasons. When they are overflowing with tourists, the top scam artists come out to play. However, during off seasons, you’re more likely to come across kinder, non-scam artist locals, hotels charge less, even restaurants charge less. Search the most popular times to travel to your destination city and avoid going during that peak time. You’ll enjoy the city even more without hoards of tourists in the way and you’ll save a pretty penny while you’re at it.

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Japanese miso soup with tofuPhoto: Shutterstock

Cook Your Own Meals

If you are able to score a hotel with a kitchenette, all the better. This way, you can sample local foods and cook them yourself. Even in the world’s most expensive cities, a trip to a local fresh food market is relatively inexpensive. Feel free to ask the merchants how to cook foods you are not familiar with. You’ll save a ton of money by dining in and you’ll also learn much more about the local culture and diet by food shopping and cooking on your own.

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Bridge in Central Park, New YorkPhoto: Shutterstock

Visit Local Parks

Most local parks do not have an entrance fee and they are often overlooked as a sight to see. More often than not, local parks offer a peaceful view of a new city. You’ll also get the chance to observe local animals, enjoy the warm weather if you’re in a sunny destination, and appreciate the lifestyle of the locals. This is not only a fun, adventurous activity, but it’s completely free.

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Young woman on her laptopPhoto: Shutterstock

Do Your Research

Search the Internet for reviews from travellers who have already visited this destination. They may be able to shed some light on popular scams to avoid in certain areas. For example, if a particular city is known for scam artist cab drivers, you’ll know to book a car in advance, from the airport direct to your hotel. Don’t wait to experience the rip off yourself. Unfortunately, millions of tourists are scammed every day. Let their experience keep you from making the same mistakes.

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Street in Madrid, SpainPhoto: Shutterstock

Search Discount Coupons Before You Go

Cities with major attractions, like Paris for example, usually offer Groupon-type savings coupons on their websites. Search the websites of sights you definitely want to see, or local group rebate websites, in the destination city you’re heading to and print out whatever coupons are available. Most major attractions around the world offer some sort of rebate to travellers and remarkably few people take full advantage of them. Even a few dollars saved per outing can make your cash stretch further on your trip.