Thrifty Travel Tips
Brooke vs. the World has asked travel bloggers to put together their best thrifty and resourceful travel tips for a helpful, free ebook. If you think you’re thrifty and would like to participate, check out the official rules.
As I’ve lived and traveled overseas for the past 12 (!) years, I’ve learned a few tricks for traveling on a budget. Some I’ve done myself, while others I’ve only heard about (#2).
Where Everyone Knows Your Name.
Did you just sing the theme song to Cheers? I sure did! If you’re staying in one place for a longer period of time become a regular at a bar, café or restaurant. Just like in your hometown where you return to places you like over and over again, staff will start to recognize and expect you. Get to know the bartenders and waiters; they often have inside information about good deals in the area. Once you become a regular, you may even get deals or freebies. They know that you will return, so they aren’t losing money. When I lived in Japan in a small city outside of Tokyo, I routinely went to the same bar. The owner was friendly and the waiters were always welcoming me in. Not only did I get good deals on drinks and food, but I also felt at home and like I belonged.
“Work” at a Hostel
I haven’t tried this one, but I’ve occasionally met travelers who “work” at a hostel. They aren’t being paid to work, but in exchange for small tasks, the travelers get free accommodation and / or food. You may have to do some dirty work or you may just have to watch the front desk. Not all hostels will do this, but there’s no harm in asking!
In most cities, there is a multitude of free events going on at any time. Museums usually have free days or evenings (the Art Institute of Chicago is free every Thursday night), restaurants have buy one get one free deals, and gyms occasionally have visitor weeks where you can “test” out the facility for free or a cheap price. On top of this, there are free concerts or festivals during high tourist season. Millennium Park in Chicago has a huge music schedule during the summer, all of which are free. The park also offers free yoga classes in the morning during summer. These free events aren’t necessarily just for large cities; I just participated in a free Aquagym class on a beach in Loano, Italy.
Groupon, LivingSocial, and many other similar websites are popping up like dandelions in spring. There has been an explosion of group buying websites in the past year. Use this to your advantage and sign up for the local version to get daily deals. When you leave the place, unsubscribe. Along with getting great deals, you will also find out about restaurants and activities that aren’t in your guidebook. To find out more about these types of companies check out this New York Times article.
A librarian by day and travel counselor and blogger by night, Kelly McCusker caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Hong Kong when she was 19. When she was younger she hopped and skipped around countries, but now she prefers to be based in one place and take small trips on the side. You can learn more about Kelly and travel counseling at her website.