Traveling is eye-opening, refreshing and at times, expensive. I've been living in Europe for the past five months, therefore, I've learned how to save money to prolong my stay. If you want to spend the least amount of money while traveling, perhaps these five life hacks are worth a look.
Stay in hostels (or airBnB's) with kitchens
Most of my money goes towards food. I love savoring the local cuisine (as long as it's skinny bitch club approved, of course). But since I've been traveling for a while now, I had to find a balance between eating out and cooking. I didn't realize this until I arrived in a hostel in Hvar, Croatia. For $20 I could make food for two days, rather than spending $5-$10 per meal. Therefore, if you're traveling to a country where food is expensive, take a breather and cook for yourself. If you still want to eat outside, perhaps cook one meal, let's say breakfast, and then have lunch around town, or viceversa.
Additionally, if you're a health freak like I am, you have more control over the healthy-ness of your meal when you cook it yourself (given that you're in a country where you speak the language and actually understand what's on the label!) Therefore, before booking on hostelworld.com, always check to see if there's a kitchen.
Avoid taxis at all costs
Taxis are expensive and most times I don't even feel safe in them. For example, I had just arrived in Istanbul, and 10 minutes into the ride, the taxi driver randomly stopped at a gas station, got out of the car and left us there for 15 minutes. I immediately checked to see if my door was locked in case I had to jump out of the taxi. Call me exaggerated, but I'de rather be aware of my surroundings and prepared for the worst rather than have the worst happen to me and look back at how I could have avoided the situation.
Therefore, to avoid spending too much money and weird taxi rides, I usually take 20 minutes to understand the public transit system (or input my desired location on google maps). I buy a 1-2-3 day pass which usually costs around $8 at most, and it takes me everywhere I need to go. I experience the culture of the country, understand the layout of the city and get my walking game on. For example, a taxi from the city center to my hostel in Dubrovnik, Croatia costs 66 kuna= $10 whereas a 24 hour day pass for public transit which costs 30 kuna=$4. The bus took me everywhere I needed to go and there was a stop right in front of our hostel. Door to door service, anyone?
Make a budget
This may sound obvious. But I failed to create one during my first backpacking trip. I was only traveling for three weeks and had plenty of money, therefore the only budget I had was: stay in a cheap hostel and buy whatever you want whenever you want it. Needless to say, if I wanted to spend five months in Europe, I had to account my debits and credits. Most times, when I saw the word budget, a thousand excuses would follow.
"I know I should do it, but I don't know how" is a common excuse I hear among fellow travellers (and myself).
1. Take the amount of money you have
2. Divided by the days you'll be traveling for. If you don't know how long you're traveling, which was my case, use the maximum amount of days my visa would allow me to stay (3 months).
random example: $8,000 for 50 days
8000/50 = $160
voilà, in the hypothetical case, you can spend $160 a day, which, if you follow these life hacks you will be nowhere near spending.
I keep a note on my phone. I write down every expense and analyze it at the end of the day. If I spent too much, I have less money to begin the next day. #RespectTheBudget
Travel with a backpack
This may seem extreme to some of you, but it's more common than you think. I have a 30L Porter Osprey pack. I am aware it's on the minimalist side of backpacking, but I like mine because it fits well, I can't pack as much and I can't buy as much which helps me save money. I have a rule where, if I buy something, I have to get rid of something that's already in my bag. This makes me really think twice about my purchase (AKA saves money). For those of you that are thinking there's no way on earth you could do this, keep in mind, I have another rule where I must buy something in every country I visit: a cute shirt at a local thrift store, a cross-body purse or a pair of earrings. Everything is possible, even with a backpack. It's all about prioritizing. Rather than bringing two pairs of sandals, I only bring one, which means I have more space for all these new items I will buy on my trip :)
Additionally, I avoid paying baggage fees with my wonderful 30L Porter. It always fits above me on the plane. Unless you're flying Czech Airlines which makes you pay for the overhead bin compartment bag. #BoycottCzechAirlines
Beware of money exchanges
Withdraw money from an ATM rather than from a currency exchange. I remember once, I exchanged $100 to euros. I got 50 euros back. I was heartbroken. So I began paying attention to the echange rates when I travelled, and every time, they rip you off. Therefore, withdraw money from an ATM. You will get the best rate here. However, prior to your trip, visit your bank to see if they have partnerships with international banks (it's called the Global ATM Network) to avoid the $5-$10 ATM fee.
These hacks helped me travel throughout Europe and have the time of my life!! I hope they help you too.
Always remember: money returns, time doesn't, but if you can save a little money here and there, you'll have a better time!!