Though most folks around the world are honest and kind, you need to be wary of those providing services so that you are not overcharged. I have learned the following tips the hard way–from personal experience. Also, prices are estimates and based on my recent (2014-2017) experiences. Of course all information is contingent upon and will vary based on the day, place, service, and personnel.
- Check on flying two separate budget airlines or flying a budget airline to a nearby large airport.
- Check if any nearby airports are cheaper
- Use credit cards to earn miles and go from there
- Round trip tickets are usually much cheaper than two one way tickets
- Travel during the “off” season. Everything is cheaper: flights, hotels, tours, etc.
Taxis from the airport
Be informed about pricing. Drivers often assume tourists know nothing about prices; thus, they often quote the “government set” price, which is actually the maximum price they may legally charge. Some alternatives to taxis:
A) Public transportation
B ) Car Rentals (In Europe I rented a car for $20/day, while taking a taxi one way would have cost +$40).
C) Uber (In Egypt Uber from the airport charged me $7; a taxi from the airport charged $30 after bargaining. While Uber is 90% of the time cheaper, it is not a guarantee. One example is in Dubai Uber is more expensive. I paid four times the taxi rate!).
- Again be informed. Know the exchange rate.
- Avoid exchanging money in the USA and Europe, which have some of the poorest exchange rates.
- Know if it is cheaper to exchange or withdraw from the ATM. For example: if you wanted $200 USD in local currency and used an ATM, you could be charged the following: 3% general fee, $5 ATM fee, and $5 bank fee. You will get $200 in local currency, but you will have paid $216. In this case, you pay a 8% fee per $100. Compare this with the money exchange rates. If you use an ATM, take out a substantial amount of money, so you are not paying the processing fees more than once. If you take out $500, the rate per $100 drops down to 5%.
- Use a credit card with no International fees whenever possible.
- In the airport exchange a small amount of money $20-50 and wait to until you are downtown to exchange more where the rates will be better.
- U.S. dollars tends to give you the best rate in most countries followed by Euros. I live in Singapore, so I always exchange Singapore dollar to USD before I leave.
- Buy an international SIM card. I like Keepgo which works in over 70 countries. In Europe, a single SIM card can cost 40 dollars and it works in only the particular country for which it was purchased.
- If you’re going to make local calls, get a local sim card or use SKYPE app. If you’re going to call home – use the SKYPE app. It can still call to normal phone numbers.
- Use a hotel booking app. I recommend Booking.com or airbnb
- Couchsurfing is a site in which you stay free with a local family.
The best place to buy souvenirs is at a large, local market where many other items are sold. Often souvenirs sold near the attraction are more expensive due to the lack of competition and the tourists’ impulsive enthusiasm to have a memento of the activity.
When possible, avoid checking a suitcase. With only one carry-on, I traveled from the North Pole to the Bahamas; I traveled from Antarctica to t
- It’s easier entering and exiting the airport, renting a small vehicle like a scooter, site-seeing after you check out.
- If you booked to separate tickets, you don’t have to worry your suitcase won’t make it.
- Wear your warm, heavier clothes on the plane so you don’t need to make room for them in your carry-on. The warmer clothes can also work well as a pillow.
- Avoid expensive 5 star restaurants and touristy upscale areas that often are more chain than authentic. Instead, eat where the locals eat. Street food is the best and usually most local. Ask locals or hotel clerks for their favourite places.
- Depending on the country, it may be beneficial to carry bottled water, napkins, and/or toilet paper. These items may be expensive, hard to locate, or non-existent.
- It’s likely, your credit card has insurance so you don’t have to buy it again.
- You can buy travel insurance for pretty cheap which covers rental cars along with many other items
- Fill up the gas before you return because you are required to fill up with gas before returning a car, be sure to check your rental’s gas tank. Refuse to take a car with an unfilled tank.
- Use google maps or maps.me as your GPS and car holder mount with you
- Don’t forget to bring a phone car charger
Don’t be fooled by the word “free”
- Duty Free is frequently advertised and sounds wonderful. But it typically means you receive about a 7% discount, not a 60% discount as one might assume. While you do save 7%, most of “duty free” stores are quite expensive.