Money 308: Big Decisions – Vacations

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Money 307: Big Decisions – Holidays

Enjoy for less

  • Organize your own tour
    • Look for free or discounted days and times for monuments and museums
    • Get a tourist card to find huge discounts and free offers on attractions and transportation
  • Keep the whole experience unplanned
  • Be courageous in haggling on literally everything, especially when you’re not in the West
  • Don’t fixate on collecting souvenirs, since they often go into a box to be forgotten once you go home
  • Track your spending in a small notebook to avoid going over budget

Save on shelter

  • Work for rent if you’re willing
    • It’s not as bad as you may think
      • As long as you keep your common sense, you won’t be taken advantage of
    • There are many options
      • Go organic farming through WWOOF
      • Crew a yacht or cruise ship
      • Work at a hostel
      • House-sit for someone needing it online
  • Conventionally
    • Rent a local guest house instead of a hotel
    • If you’re going to a hotel, price shop with a discount room-filling service like Priceline or Hotwire
      • You can save hundreds of dollars by simply choosing somewhere half a mile away from the main city’s attractions
      • The 1-800 reservations number often connects you to a central office with set rates while calling the hotel directly allows you to negotiate
        • Hotels can pay a commission of up to 30% to online booking sites
          • Keep that price in mind when negotiating a price with a direct hotel
        • Try to use independently owned hotels
          • They’re far more likely to give you a discount
          • Most of the highest-ranked hotels in the world are independently owned
        • Be aware of the risks of negotiating directly
          • By booking directly with a hotel you lose the leverage that a good middle man can give you if something goes wrong
          • The first person to lose their room if the hotel overbooks are the cheap customers
      • Request a corner room to get a more spacious room for the same price
      • If you use the same hotel or hotel chain frequently, you can often get promotions and discounts
      • Leaving a tip has largely gone out of style
        • If you do leave a tip then put it under the pillow and leave a note with it to be clear who it’s for
    • Consider getting a timeshare only if you plan on making vacationing a yearly experience and have lots of extra money for it
  • Unconventionally
    • Rent out your home
    • Arrange to go camping in someone’s garden
    • House-swap with someone in the classified ads for where you want to stay
    • Pack a tent and/or camp in a garden
    • Couch-surf through an internet posting through Couchsurfing, Global Freeloaders or Hospitality Club
    • Rent an apartment if you’ll be there for more than 2 days, especially with a big group
    • Try renting from a local host through a site like airbnb

Travel more affordably

  • When flying with kids
    • Buy the infant-on-lap ticket
    • Get a bassinet seat
    • Ask for a courtesy bag for car seats
    • Carry your luggage in a stroller
    • Ask for children’s snack packs
  • Research on the internet about the cheapest way to get anywhere, and be open-minded
    • Traveling at night is usually less popular and therefore cheaper
    • It’s more affordable to sleep on a sleeper train than get a hotel
  • Walk and/or hitchhike, depending on the region
  • Rent a car if train tickets are expensive
    • Keep track of all of your receipts, and be ready to contest any strange fees
  • Look into if a country has a weekly or monthly rail pass for tourists
  • Use a ride sharing service like Uber instead of a cab service
  • Try an alternative method like getting a motorbike and touring overland

Save on eating

  • Eat the biggest meal at lunch, since that’s when the most specials run
    • If you ask, you can almost always get a discounted children’s menu
  • Eat at local places instead of familiar places in foreign countries, be bold and ask around
    • Outdoor vendors often have the most affordable food
  • Visit anywhere that serves alcohol during happy hour (which varies in time based on the country)
  • Depending on the country, you may be able to rent out a kitchen

Secure funding in an unconventional way

  • Raise funds for a worthy cause
  • Get a travel scholarship
  • Take up a challenge and get sponsored for something intense
  • Enter a contest
Next: Money 309: Big Decisions – Family Deaths