Globe trotting can be very stressful when it comes to money. Here are some practical tips to help you stretch your budget.
1. US Dollar is the boss.
Always carry US Dollar when you travel to another country. Maintain a Dollar account in a reputable bank if you can. It is widely accepted and you can easily exchange that for local currency when needed. Sometimes you can even shop in some stores with your Benjamins.
2. Have some local currency in your wallet.
Cash is still king in most places, getting your hands on some local cash might be easier now since money changers are everywhere. ATMs also dispense local currency and take care of foreign exchange for you. However, these may come with some transaction fees which you may not be either fully aware or in control. So, it is always better to have some spare cash and do your exchanges when it is convenient for you to go to a place where it is cheaper to exchange currencies.
3. When using cards, bring many.
Some places might accept Visa, some just MasterCard. Some may accept Debit Cards, some only Credit Cards. You may even buy prepaid cards in some countries. Some countries are technologically ahead and support mobile app payments, these may require you to top up your apps individually. Key here is distribution of your money and higher chances of acceptance. Keep in mind the foreign transaction fees, convenience always has a price. Some cards may land you sweet deals in some places, you could earn points or miles, you may even be able to get some rebates. Use your cards wisely and as a last resort.
4. Hostels when there is one in the area
You seldom would spend time in your hotel room so it is almost a negligible expense. Instead spend more on exploring the area. Hostels offer you cheaper stays and a chance to meet other wise travelers. Networking is always a good thing but making friends require a more intimate scenario – hostels would provide you with this. Another thing that may save you cash is by joining other solo travelers to form a group to get some discounts in local tour packages.
5. Homestays have its benefits
There are times when you visit a rural area where there are no hotels or resorts. Homestay is a great opportunity for you to not only save money in accommodations but to be able to live with locals. Having local friends would mean a lot of things, free tour guides, street level knowledge, etc.. are some of the countless financial benefits for staying at a homestay. Couchsurfing is a type of informal homestay, airbnb started that way and still has a lot of homestay options, you can even check on reviews and reputation of your would be housemate or landlord.
6. Public mass transportation options
When in Rome, do as the Romans do – take time to experience commuting like a local and save cash by avoiding chartered trips. You may even discover new places by intentionally getting yourself lost. Yes it is totally ok and fun to get lost in a place you are not familiar with.
These are just some tips and there are other more advanced ways of getting the most out of your buck while traveling. Meet other people, travelers, locals, talk to your hotel room neighbor, or a local store owner. Your smile is the greatest currency!