Exotic can mean a lot of different things, but for travelers it also tends to mean expensive. Whether you’re making your way to a remote spot for a vacation or enjoying more of a resort setting at an established tourist hot spot, it can be easy to wind up spending more than you mean to. And most digital nomads, despite being focused on longer stays and often frugal lifestyles, will typically encounter the issue of overspending at one point or another.
It’s for this reason that I’m writing a few words on how to save money at an exotic destination.
1. Travel Like The Locals
One of the fastest ways to rack up unnecessary costs at an exotic destination, or any destination for that matter, is to travel in style rather than convenience. For instance, if all of the locals are taking buses and you hop in a cab, you’re almost certainly going to be overpaying. Read up on the famous boda bodas of Uganda if you want a perfect example. They’re essentially traditional street bikes that double as taxi alternatives and get people to more places more affordably. In this instance there are also potential safety issues, so they’re also a reminder that you shouldn’t put yourself in harm’s way just to save money. But these are judgment calls for each traveler in each destination. The general idea of watching how the locals get around and following suit is still a good one.
2. Trust Locals Over Guidebooks
A guidebook is always going to tell you the 10 or 15 most popular activities in a place, and many of them are usually going to cost money. This is not to say you can’t or shouldn’t visit a museum now and then, but the best guides are always locals. Ask around and get the opinions of the people who live there as to where you should go and how to get a feel for the destination and the local culture. Sometimes people who live in a certain place will give you a recommendation as simple as a neighborhood to hang out in, or a marketplace to walk through, and you’ll wind up getting far better acquainted with the place than if you’d simply gone to the most famous bar or the most highly recommended monument. And you may save money while you’re at it.
3. Skip The Casinos
It may sound specific, but a lot of places we’d consider exotic tend to have casinos, whether in big gleaming resorts or in little beachside bars. And while this can be a tempting activity while you’re out and about in the world, it’s also an unnecessary one. You can find a whole range of games online and play either for real money or for free from most anywhere in the world these days, which makes casinos less specific to travel. Playing online isn’t a bad idea for your leisure time, and you can typically watch your money more carefully than in a real casino. And frankly, most of the in-person ones wind up being a little disappointing anyway.
4. Eat The Street Foods
This goes somewhat in line with trusting locals over guidebooks, because locals will typically recommend fare like this. But if it’s an option, eat the street food! Make sure it’s sanitary and appetizing of course, but then trust that it’s going to be one of the more authentic cultural experiences you have and it’s probably going to cost you almost nothing next to highly recommended restaurants. And whatever you do, don’t look down on street food because of how it’s presented or how little it costs. For reference, a food stand in Singapore won a Michelin Star a few years ago!
5. Choose The Right Destinations To Begin With
Maybe this goes without saying, but sometimes the best way to save money on an exotic destination is just to pick the right one. Digital nomads tend to have some say in the matter as to where they’ll spend time next, and that means the budgeting process begins with selection. Sometimes you can line up 10 destinations that seem very similar in just about every way that matters, and still one or two will be far more expensive than the rest. Choosing the right destinations can keep you in line to stay under budget and get the most out of your time on the ground.