Ya'll we all have seen the traps..
We budget in advance.. or think we have..
We got a plan and everything!! and these few things get us every time!!!
Don't get caught with the short end of the stick. Traveling does not have to be a burden or financially scary if you plan ahead for the basics..
I'm gonna give you 10 basics to start with..
Since my passport renewal on 12/16/2016 I have 23 stamps in my new passport and I've been a little busy. I have traveled from the old town of Havana Cuba to the beautiful countryside of Indonesia, to the red clay city in North AFrica to the Iceland coast and a few places in between and around..I am a FRUGAL traveler and deal finder QUEEN..
and recently I have embarked on Traveling Solo and I love it..
You will find this comprehensive list to have some new things & common things to consider.. Take a look and tell me what you think..
- Flight Bags - PAY IN ADVANCE- find out what is a carry on or Hold bag or checked bag. Each airline may refer to them differently. when in doubt call and if you need that extra pay in advance. A $25 dollar bag online can turn into $75 at the gate. ** I'MMA add this.. Because Americans seem to dislike some airlines like Spirit because the feeling of being nickeled and dimed.. is eminent Well most pick Spirit for the price.. Right??? So you automatically assume some luxuries or basics are considered extras.. The price is low because they don't include the fluff that often most don't use anyway.. So key note.. Many of the flights around EU are very similar to Spirit.. Where you can get rock bottom prices if you know how to be economical. So pack light or check a bag and only carry small on plane PERKS include being able to board first. I witnessed this in Gran Canaria. How nice.
**Account for duty free if you have connecting flights. You can wind up either losing what you bought (ie. Liquor) if its a liquid or paying to buy a bag and to check it. I've had Duty Free Liquors I just purchased taken because I had to go back thru security. Only way around this is to go back to baggage and see if they will pull your bag so you can pack it...
**Speaking of bags.... bring a collapsible bag that can be checked during your trip. If you don't need it, great. If you do, now you have a checkable bag that you do not have to lug around or pay for and you can get everything home. Get those shrink bags. I did. They help tremendously. My last trip I found I needed the larger checked back coming back to the states. I picked up a nice share of gifts including Duty Free and needed to check all of it. **I brought back 4 bottles...**
- SNACKS - Buy snacks at the store before you reach the airport and pack in your carry on. Get your waters and juices once you get thru security and you are set... Then make sure to find a store near you and fill up the fridge with late night or early morning snacks. **Note - if you go to a dry country... ie. Morocco and you like a little libation but want to stay in the old town area. Get duty free at the airport and take to your hotel/Riad etc.. You will find very few restaurants that publicly sell beer or wine in the old medina area. just an FYI.
-Print your itinerary in advance - and I mean ALL of it. Every page. This did not happen to me but I was forewarned in Morocco to take printed boarding passes as they charge a lot to print. I did hear someone on one of the flights mentioning they charged someone $50 to print their boarding pass. Right there if you had to add a bag and printed itinerary you are already $100 over budget.
- - Rental car guarantees - Whoa!! be prepared for this. You want a rental in another country.... FIND the small print. My rental in Canary Islands cost me $990 US upfront. I did get it all back when I returned the car. But you need to know you gotta have that amt available on a CC and not to mention the check out and in process is not thorough at all in EU countries.. (At least not when I rented from TopCAr in Tenerife). They did not do the walk around or make sure I knew how to operate everything. I walked in, showed paperwork and they just pointed to the stall and basically said have at it. ummmmm ok.. I still was not sure what side of the road they drove on. 浪
- Know The dogone Metric system conversions-prepare yourself to be back in grade school almost in a funny way. You see.. the US makes us learn the traditional metric system as kids through high school and then everything we use post primary education level is on the Western world metric table. ie. km are mi, grams are ounces, Celsius is Fahrenheit, meters are feet etc....
All of it seems rudimentary and may not mean much until you are hit with those metrics for every direction you are given. Or say you are purchasing something based on weight in grams and you can't do the math that fast. YOu can easily end up spending 100s. I did. Well I got suckered into the spice guys store and their currency conversion to US is 9 DH to 1USD. So Im good with 2 DH etc... the kicker is it's per gram not ounce. So something that weighs .238grams can cost 238 DH which then converts to $24 USD. Well my bill got all the way to $177 USD. So be careful.. I love my purchases though.. I got stuff for my Mom and Brother..
-Using your CC - now this may seem like a great idea out the gate because you don't have to take out much cash... right? Well 1. some places only take cash. 2. when you swipe you can be endlessly charging and not keeping record. I was on the edge and had to start paying more attention. I suggest you don't even take it with you, or have that Good Good discipline and keep it locked away.
- - Exchanging USD in advance - I have found in my many traveling stops, just exchange the money upon arrival to the airport or based on where you are going, you may be better of exchanging directly at a local bank. Which I did in Morocco. The process was super easy, and the rates are pretty close. ** Note be mindful of local butters. These are people who will walk in and jump right in front of you while you are in line and not think twice. like you are not standing there. So Toughin up!!!-
Tours & Experiences - You gotta check out Airbnb.com. Yep!! they do more than rent condos and apts etc.... They have experiences and They are pretty cool and great prices! And the neatest thing is you pay the tour guide directly. Of course Airbnb gets a cut, but you know who is getting money from showing you around their city.-
Uber vs Taxi vs Public Transpo- I'm going to almost always say take public transportation IF they have a good system that runs consistently. Why because it likely goes everywhere and is DIRT cheap. Uber is usually the next best option because you get to see what the cost is upfront without guessing. The flip side is, if you don't have access to wifi or data to hail an Uber, you better be in a good place for walking or hailing a cab. So know before you go and wear the right shoes. While in Lisbon solo, and sightseeing, I walked 1.5 hrs from a stop because I could not reconnect to my data service. Luckily, it was daylight until the very end and my blue dot on google maps was working. and Silverlining… I got my steps in that day for sure!
Hotel with meals included - I say if the price is right, stay at a spot with either a fridge or a meal preferably breakfast, included. That way you have something to fall back on and it saves you a little cash even if it is juice, coffee, water and a snack to get your day started.
***BONUS - thought I'd throw in a little extra one for ya- Hotel vs Hostel - I stayed in a Hostel for the first time solo in Grand Canaria. It was a private single room with a shared bathroom. Had a secure door and lock. Cost was $15EU for one night. It was perfect. It was clean and interestingly quiet.
Do your homework and make sure it is in an area where you can make other arrangements if it's a NO GO!! But hey give it a try.
Expand your options if you are traveling with a companion and they are down to save a little cash.
And Also try Airbnb and booking.com.
Those were my go tos for my last trip...
Check back to hear all about Canary Islands, Marrekech, Lisbon and Madrid!!