Let’s face it: traveling on a budget is not for everyone. You’ve got to be strong-minded and staunch of stomach but the payoffs are big. The more you cut down on expenses the more you realize that you don’t need big budget trips and then your one-week $2,000 vacation can become a one-month vacation. Budget travel often gets a bad rap because as humans we eventually learn from our mistakes and so the words budget travel become synonymous with cramped airplanes and windowless cruise cabins. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Granted, if you learn to like windowless cruise cabins you’ll certainly go far.
First you’ve got to pick your destination or better still, destinations. The more options you have the more likely you are to find a good deal. The best places to get in on deals in San Francisco include: TravelZoo, Fly.com, CheapTickets.com and STATravel (if you’re still young in skin as well as at heart). Many of these places have Twitter feeds as well. Subscribe to those and watch and wait. Start to get some ideas about what a flight will cost and then in a few months you’ll probably see a good sale. Don’t hesitate, just buy it. Prices and daily deals update often and you could miss out if you have to think about it for a while. Be spontaneous and creative. That flight to Mexico never showed but $150 to Puerto Rico? Go for it! Don’t be afraid to travel alone. There’s always other singles sitting in the bars of the tourist section, the youth hostels or on Couchsurfing networks. Traveling alone allows you the freedom to go when you want for as long as you want to wherever you want. Got some vacation days saved up? Fantastic deal to Costa Rica in the middle of your travel buddy’s GRE’s? Too bad for them, they’ll have to catch the next flight.
As mentioned in my Fun Things to do On a Budget Article, once you get there youth hostels are a great way to get a cheap deal and meet cool people. Walking helps you see sights you’d never see with a tour guide and tourist sections of town usually look the same around the world. That “homemade” jewelry piece you scored came from China, sorry to tell you but you can get that on the street in any 3rd world country.
In more modern countries you’re faced with different problems. Trying to do New York on the cheap? Learn to love hotdogs and eschew the midtown shopping malls. Broke in San Francisco? Rent a bike and go explore the Marin Headlands. Trying to find a $4 meal in Singapore? Street hawkers and Little India will take care of you. Most cities have parks and most of them are actually worth visiting. I personally recommend Bangkok, Singapore, The Netherlands and of course NYC’s Central Park and San Francisco’s humongous Golden Gate Park. Many of these cities have great cheap deals or even free botanical gardens as well. The one in Brooklyn has climate-change-immune conservatories showcasing tropical or Sahara next door to each other.
Big cities usually have lots of people on the Couch Surfing networks as well. Find someone who’s fairly new and you’ve found yourself a free room, a guide, and a friend.
My final and personal favorite budget travel trick is one that’s one me a lot of friends over the years. Travel with sleeping pills. Seriously. A room is only a bed, until that bar downstairs shifts into higher gear or the spring under your knee pops lose and the couple next door *ahem*… you get the picture. Problems which can be solved by sleeping pills:
• Uncomfortable Planes
• Cold Weather
• Hot Weather
• Noisy Neighbors
• Noisy Streets
• Noisy Beds
• Uncomfortable Beds
• No Beds
• Snoring Friends
• Snoring Enemies
You get the point. Pack some over the counter sleeping pills and you’ll find that a good night’s sleep doesn’t cost $149.95/night it costs $0.30/night. Just be careful about not taking them when you have to do any serious thinking in the next 8 hours and check the laws of the country you’re entering. The laws are sometimes different in different countries and you don’t want to end up in the Slammer Because of a Couple Benadryl like the Americans who went to Zambia.
I hope you enjoyed our guide for budget travel tips. We here at Joffer San Francisco think that the best way to have a great time while traveling, or in your city for that matter, is to always have more money in your pocket. That is why we are passionate about bringing you the best daily deals and coupons from amazing places and merchants in the city. Check out JOFFER and get access to incredible deals and coupons delivered to you daily:
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