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When it comes to eating when traveling, people often do not consider the cost of meals or the fact that there are alternatives to eating at restaurants for every meal. Even if each person orders the least expensive menu item with a reasonable portion to fill their stomach, one can still plan on spending at least $10 or €10 per person (if they’re lucky). If a group of two can manage that, then they are already spending $60 or €60 per day on food, which is often more than a single night’s accommodation. The following simple tip saves more money than one may realize:
Buy food at grocery stores, even if you are staying at a hotel. Items for breakfast, snacks or even for lunch and dinner are easy to keep in the fridge or somewhere in your hotel room. If your room does not have a refrigerator, many hotels have ice machines offering guests free ice that one can use to fill coolers, Ziploc bags, or even the bathroom sink. All of these things will be sufficient for the minimal amount of time that one actually needs for keeping perishables before consuming them. Furthermore, many rooms have a kettle or coffee maker with complementary tea and coffee grounds, so there’s no sense in buying this somewhere else. Some hotels (more so in the United States) even offer free breakfast, which makes that option a no-brainer. If your hotel does not offer free breakfast, you can easily eat cookies, bread or cereal in your room or even on the go (only if you don’t want milk in your cereal).
When it comes to lunch and dinner, this may depend on your preferences and your budget. We often like to have at least one meal out so that we’re not constantly trying to come up with creative ways to eat with the limited options that we purchased. When we do, we also try to bring something back with us that we can eat again later—unless we were just way too hungry to save anything. If you can manage it, then that’s two meals out for the price of one. Edit: When eating at restaurants, you may want to watch out for tourist traps.
There are many other little things that can be done to reduce consumption costs even more, but these few simple tips, alone, will save a lot of money; especially in bigger cities.
In many instances you should rent apartments or cabins rather than booking a hotel room. We highly recommend Wimdu or Airbnb. Here, you can not only rent an entire and cheap apartment or house for yourself, but you will also have a kitchen. Hotels can often cost up to and much more than $100 or €100 per night, whereas a fully furnished apartment can be rented for less than half of that price. This is also a huge money saver since hotel and restaurant prices for food are sometimes ridiculous, which also relates back to the first tip. Buying food to cook is even cheaper than buying snacks and things for meals on the go. We are not too fond of sandwiches, so having the fully equipped kitchens offered by these apartment rentals is a real luxury. This also gives you the comfort of being in an actual home.
When traveling within the US, you may be best served to rent a car for your stay. Unless you are in a very large city with quality public transportation, there are really not many buses or trains that will take you to all the places you want to visit. However, regarding Europe, please do not rent a car. Here, trains and buses will take you to every small village or town of your choosing. Renting a car would only be a waste of money. Furthermore, many public transportation options offer great group rates and special tickets, based on the various needs of travelers. These deals are not only focused on large groups, but are also beneficial to the lone traveler.
Although North America is slowly catching up, Europe is also home to many budget airlines that can get you throughout the entire continent, including some outlying destinations, for next to nothing. This is a great, cheap method of visiting all of the places on your European travel wish list within a limited time frame.
If you are someone who really enjoys learning about the places you are visiting, you will likely want to take in a tour during your stay. Of course, one can walk around and visit the sites on their own, but that limits the available information to whatever signs or plaques can be found in the area. However, guided tours can often be expensive. While guided tours will generally be longer and a bit more informative, some organisations, like Sandeman’s New Europe Tours host free guided tours in many of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. These are usually around 2 hours in length and are lead by a volunteer who strictly works for tips. At the end of the tour, you can simply decide what you thought the tour was worth to you or what your budget can afford.
There are a plethora of money saving methods to meet one’s travel budget, but the first three categories are the core of travel costs. However, with these new tips, you have one less excuse to scratch off your list of reasons for why you are not traveling.