How to Travel Smarter by Anna Maria Cos Alcantara
Planning your next travel can be a lot of fun – the Internet can provide you lots of information on the places to see, what kinds of food to eat, and how to get from one place to another. But sometimes, it’s all fun and games until you realize that your dream itinerary will need to be short-listed because your budget will force you back down to earth. Unless you’re the type to work backwards and arrange the trip based on your budget, here are some tricks of the trade on what to splurge on and how you can save some coin on your next travel –
WHAT TO SPLURGE
Splurge on experiences. These are the few things that will last a lifetime, and something that no one can ever take away from you. So go ahead – ride a hot air balloon when you’re in Cappadocia, watch the L.A. Lakers play live when you’re in California, and go on that romantic gondola ride around Venice. You don’t have to do that every single time that you visit that city, but life is too short to not treat yourself by ticking off items in your bucket list. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend all your money on tourist attractions, because there are a lot of ways to offset those pricey experiences. The great thing is that there is typically a lot of things you can do for free in any given city. With the help of the mighty Internet, it’s easy to find different popular monuments and free museums that you can reach by foot in order for you to save some coin.
Splurge on your accommodation. Some might not feel the same way because they think that an accommodation is simply a place to sleep, store your luggage, and shower. But if you think about it, your accommodation is part of the vacation experience. Not to say that you should always splurge on a five-star hotel, but it’s important to consider having a nice, comfortable place to return to after a long, tiring day of adventure. After all, you’re not just paying for a place to stay, you’re also paying for the comfort and ambiance that the accommodation can provide.
If your budget dictates that you can only afford a certain type of accommodation, just make sure that you’ve done your research so you can properly manage expectations. On the other hand, you can always ask your travel agent to look for a good accommodation at a friendly price. It is important that you put a lot of consideration into this aspect of your trip because you should remember that you are on vacation – and you want to avoid any form of stress on your trip.
Splurge on travel insurance. A lot of people neglect travel insurance simply because they are under the impression that the chances that something could go terribly wrong is very slim. But the reality is that accidents and mishaps can happen when you least expect it! Did you know that travel insurance can cover medical expenses, reimburse airline cancellations, and even help cover for lost travel documents? There are actually a lot of travel insurance packages available that can fit your budget – simply don’t leave this out and discuss this with your travel agent that will be glad to help you figure it out.
WHAT TO SAVE
Save on your flights. Unless you’re a first-class aficionado, your flight is the easiest way to cut your expenses. If you think about it, what’s a long-haul economy flight if your adventure awaits in Rome? What’s a couple of connecting flights if your next layover is in Dubai? Instead of spending an extra $200 to be upgraded to business class, spend that money to treat yourself to a Michelin-star restaurant instead. On the other hand, if you’re the type to consider the flight as also part of the vacation, then go ahead – treat yourself to extra legroom and glasses of champagne in your preferred airline.
Souvenirs. A lot of people get carried away when buying souvenirs, only for those items to end up in a drawer in storage, never to be remembered again. In this day and age, pictures and memories now serve as souvenirs. But if you’re the type that wants a tangible item to take home, go for a small, meaningful item that is unique to that city that best symbolizes it. Going for a large item can take up luggage space, or might even cost you shipping.
Taxis. This is a no-brainer. As a tourist, you can be susceptible to getting fooled by a possibly faulty taxi meter, or having to spend more than expected because of the chance that you and your driver did not understand each other well enough for you to reach your intended destination. Public transportation is almost always the most cost-efficient, and quickest way to get to one place to another. It’s also a great way to immerse yourself into the hustle and bustle of the city.
Food. This last item is probably the most debatable. Some might argue that you should splurge on the finest dishes as part of the experience, while some might say that food shouldn’t have to dent your budget. Luckily, this is the easiest one to compromise because you can set aside a budget for you to treat yourself to a fancy, highly recommended restaurant. But if you’re a good traveler, you would know that the best food isn’t served in the most expensive restaurants – it’s only known by the locals. So go ahead and ask your hotel concierge or your newfound local friend for their recommendations – it will definitely get you the bang for your buck.