Holidays are all about memory-making – the last thing you want to be counting when you’re away is your coins. Although budgets tend to take a battering when you’re travelling, there are some smart ways you can still squirrel away some savings. Here are seven ways you can maximise your travel budget (and minimise stress about spending).
Don’t just dine out at dinnertime
The world’s best restaurants aren’t just the hardest to secure a reservation at: they’re often the ones that attract a heftiest price tag. The time you choose to dine can make a significant difference to your bill, however – many eateries that offer a lunchtime service do so at a considerably lower price than their evening equivalents. At Tokyo’s Kien, a Kaiseki-style restaurant that has a Michelin star to its name, the multi-course evening meal can cost up to a pricey ¥23,650 (AUD$256) per person, while lunch begins from a much more reasonable ¥14,850 (AUD$160). You’re also more likely to snag a table, too.
Time your museum visits
The Louvre. Vatican Museum. The Uffizi Gallery. Even some of the world’s most famous – and frequently visited – museums and attractions wave people in without charging a cent on their set free days. For Paris’ iconic Louvre, it’s evenings on the first Friday of every month, for Rome’s labyrinthine Vatican Museum, the last Sunday of every month is reserved for complimentary entry. Even New York’s Bronx Zoo has free entry every Wednesday for those who’ve pre-reserved a spot. It’s always worth checking to see if there are some free days coming up during your visit.
Swap your show times
Got your heart set on that big musical? Similar to the above wisdom, matinee performances on New York’s Broadway or in London’s West End tend to command cheaper prices than evening showings. Additionally, weekends are also more expensive than weekdays: at a glance, comparing a Wednesday afternoon and Saturday evening showing of blockbuster musical Hamilton on New York’s Broadway had a sizeable saving of USD$80 (AUD$120).
Don’t skip street food
Street food slots into a specific category of consumption: typically, it’s cuisine that’s quick to make and easy to eat, requiring less fanfare, fewer overheads and a reduced amount of labour per item compared to bricks-and-mortar restaurants. It’s also geared towards selling quickly which means it requires broad appeal – and only the best food flies out the door. All of these factors combine to create a delicious, reasonably priced and often emblematic meal or snack in many cities around the world: favourites in this category include treats as tasty as tamales in Mexico, noodle dishes in China and stroopwafel in the Netherlands.
Book according to room, not hotel
If city views or rooftop pools don’t fall into your deal-breaker categories, you can balance comfort and cost by focusing on room-specific offerings to see where you can make savings on accommodation. The top-tier room in a boutique hotel might undercut the entry level equivalent in a five-star down the road (and still come with some pretty impressive perks).
Eat like a local
Eat like the locals do and your wallet (and tastebuds) will thank you. It’s not a coincidence that the rate at which Cypriots consume haloumi, the French buy baguettes or Italians drink coffee often aligns with the price: if it’s something locals eat on a regular basis, it’s unlikely to cost an arm and a leg. It might also align with local regulatory considerations: in Spain, tax on alcohol is noticeably low, which is great news for visiting oenophiles.
Istanbul’s waterways. Morocco’s marketplaces. New Zealand’s fjords. Tackling a destination on foot is a fabulous, free way to see what a place is really like. So many of the world’s attractions – parks, gardens, architectural marvels and natural wonders – can be explored for days on end, where the only requirements are limited to sunscreen and sturdy shoes. Commit to a balance of indoor and outdoor-based activities and you might even get to leave your wallet at home.
Image credit: Peter Conlan; Michael Fousert (The Louvre); Darren Soh/Singapore Tourism Board(Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre); Jean Vella (Golden Kinkaku Pavilion in Kyoto).