Want to travel around the world without breaking the bank? DESTINATIONS presents a guide to travelling on a budget and experiencing a city like a true local.
Ever get the urge to just pack your things and step out to discover the world? Most of us experience that feeling frequently but the thought of huge travel expenses more often than not nips such plans in the bud. On a recent trip around the United States of America with a group of friends, we discovered that once you look beyond the 5-star hotels, swanky restaurants and expensive shops, a whole new world of adventure and discovery awaits, one that even the most financially conservative traveller can afford. For three weeks, we traversed the breadth of America, covering cities along the west coast as well as the east coast. Our stops included New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Long Beach. Travelling on a budget taught us to enjoy these cities like the locals do, overlook the small things that may stress one out on a holiday and most of all, it fuelled our curiosity and allowed us to look beyond our comfort zone. Here’s how you can do it too:
- TRAVEL LIGHT
It’s the best advice that we can give you. Let’s just say we learnt our lesson. Learn it from us!
- Buses will allow you only one piece of luggage and one personal bag.
- Domestic flights will charge extra for checked-in luggage.
- It will save you the hassle of dragging two pieces of luggage across roads/subways if you plan on using those but of course, you can also Uber or Lyft. We liked to switch between the two, since they offer very similar services.
- BUY A SIM CARD
The first thing you should do as soon as you land at the airport is buy a SIM card. Google Maps and you are BFFs. Your guide to restaurants, bars, parks etc. is all inside one
- DOWNLOAD APPLICATIONS
applications like Uber/Lyft on your phone beforehand. If you are lost, these guys will save you.
- SHARING A RIDE
Those who want to save an extra buck or two can use UberPOOL, which allows you to split the cost of the ride with other people headed in the same direction. Just keep in mind that sharing a ride means having a flexible schedule since you will be stopping to pick and drop others on the way.
- KEEP CHANGE
If you plan on using public transport, always keep change especially if you are going to take a bus. Some buses don’t have ticket machines that give you change for your bills. If there is nothing that you can do, however, don’t be afraid to ask someone on the bus to help you out.
- Subways in New York are open 24 hours.
- CREDIT CARDS
Credit cards are your best friends while you travel. Some public transport only charges on credit cards as do your Uber and Lyft apps. Those of you who don’t have it, it’s time to get your hands on one.
- COST OF THE TRIP
To estimate the costs of your trip, visit the website www.rome2rio.com. It will calculate the maximum amount that it will cost you to travel between cities as well as the minimum. Whatever your budget allows, the website will give you options for that.
- FOOD AT YOUR DOORSTEP
The application UberEATS will get you food in bed when you are too broken to step outside.
- KEEP BATTERY PACKS
Since you are doing most of your navigation on your phone, keep battery packs on you at all times.
- USE AIRBNB
When it came to accommodation, we picked B&Bs (Bed&Breakfasts) over hotels since they let you use the entire house (almost). You can do your laundry, use the kitchen to cook and even make yourself comfortable in the living room. All our hosts were extremely helpful. Just be careful to follow the rules of the house so you are respectful to the host family and everyone is comfortable. Airbnb is your best bet for landing a great place to stay at. For the uninitiated, Airbnb is a homestay network that allows travellers to rent out rooms or entire apartments/houses/villas directly from owners almost anywhere in the world. You just need to sign up, enter your criteria and hit search. The list of options is endless. Here’s why we love Airbnb:
- Making bookings on Airbnb is the easiest and most convenient method of booking a place to stay. The best part is you can find accommodation starting from as low as $30 and going all the way up to $100. Sometimes you can even rent couches for as low as $7 a night.
- Most hosts are very helpful and hospitable. It’s their job to be, as they work quite hard for a good review on the website.
- It lets you interact with locals and it’s the closest you can get to “Living like a local”.