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.
Further Tips for Travel in Europe
1.Assemble your travel documents
All countries in Europe require travelers to have a valid passport– no matter your country of origin. If you don’t have a passport or your passport has expired, it can take between 4-6 weeks to receive one from your time of application. Some countries have rush or emergency passport services; however, this service can be quite expensive so it’s best to take care of all of your documentation as far ahead of time as possible. Travelers who have a valid passport should check the expiry date before they purchase any flights as some countries can deny you entry if it expires within 6 months of when you arrive.
If you’re planning on renting a car while in Europe be sure to have a valid driver’s license. Some car rental companies also require travelers to have an international driver’s license in addition to their driver’s license from their country of origin. International driver’s licenses can be obtained through the American Auto Association (AAA) in the United States and the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) in Canada.
Most foreign nationals (American and Canadian travelers included) require a travel visa as well as a valid passport to visit Russia. Receiving a Russian traveler’s visa is a complicated process which can take weeks to complete. Be sure to plan ahead and get your documentation in order if you’re planning on visiting Russia while on your Europe trip.
2.What time of year do you want to travel to Europe?
Decide on the best time of year for you to travel to Europe. Several factors can help guide you in when it comes to setting a travel date. For most travelers, time and money are the biggest constraints. Planning your trip early in advance will help you find some bargains and cheaper flights to Europe. After having a thorough look at your calendar, and a look at the balance on your bank account, reevaluate your options.
Think about what you want to do during your Europe trip. Are you content spending your days wandering around museums, or do you prefer to be outdoors? Weather is a major aspect that you should consider while planning your trip to Europe. If you are willing to brace the cold winter temperatures you are sure to save a few bucks and enjoy less crowded sights. For travelers looking to soak up the sun, bear in mind that most Europeans are off for the month of August. Don’t forget that the temperatures in Europe can vary drastically and be sure to pack accordingly.
Unlike the weather, there are 3 main seasons for traveling in Europe— High, Low, and Shoulder. Each travel season has its advantages and disadvantages and will affect your experience traveling in Europe. Have a deeper look at the pros and cons of each season plus expert travel blogger advice below.
High Season (June – August) →
Low Season (November – April) →
Shoulder Season (April – June and September – November) →
3. Decide on trip length and travel dates
Travel dates are usually determined by a combination of available vacation time and budget. Usually, shorter trips require more planning than long trips.
“Decide on your budget for the trip— do you want to live it up in five star hotels for two weeks, or hostels for two months? Make sure you save time for that cheeky impromptu bottle of wine on the beach. Budget and time frame are linked, but how much fun you can have depends on you!”
Colleen, Global Gals
4. Start by planning your itinerary around unmovable dates/events
List any events that have dates that can’t be changed. For example, maybe you’re attending a music festival while in Europe or meeting up with friends somewhere on a specific date. You’ll have to plan the rest of your travel itinerary around these events and their dates— so be sure to keep them in mind as you select a European route.
5. Get inspired!
Start brainstorming what you’d like to see while in Europe. What does your ideal Europe trip look like? Are you more interested in historical sights or the best cities to party in? Would you rather spend your time in nature or in art galleries and museums? Be sure to check out some travel guides and look at some travel blogs before you write down everything you’re interested in seeing or doing.
“I check what the transportation costs and journey times are like between destinations and then reference Lonely Planet for information on specific cities or Pinterest for articles and photographs. How much there is to see or do in a particular location and how much accommodation costs determines how many nights I factor into my itinerary.”