Tips for the Road
Travelling on a budget doesn’t have to be hard if you know how to work the system. Follow these tips to travel as cheaply and safely as possible.
Avoid baggage fees: Depending upon the airline, you can pay $15 to $65 or more for the first checked bag. When possible, pack lightly enough to carry on one bag, or fly with airlines that allow free checked bags. If you have a frequent flier program, some give members with a high status a free checked bag, so check your status.
Bring your own food and drinks on flights: The in-flight meals are often expensive and most of all disappointing. Pack your carry on bag full of goodies before flying and you’ll never spent a dime while in the air. Also bring an empty water bottle with you through security at the airport, fill it up at a water fountain to avoid the overpriced water sold at airports.
Avoid purchasing cocktails on flights: Many domestic airlines can charge up to $7 for drinks. Think ahead and bring some small bottles with you, three ounces or smaller to comply with the TSA requirements.
You will save yourself a ton of money doing this all the while enjoying the drink a lot more than the weak ones served by airlines.
Don’t carry huge cash sums: You should avoid carrying a ton of cash around with you while abroad. Use your debit card and go to ATM’s for cash each day, avoid taking out more money than you are going to realistically need for the day.
Avoid ATM fees: ATM fees can add up fast, some machines charge up to $6 per withdrawal. One of these withdraws a day and you will be spending a ton of money before you realize it.
There are banks that allow you unlimited withdraws anywhere in the world at no extra cost. It might be a good idea to open up an account like this before leaving home.
Avoid account freezes: Before you start your trip, call your bank and credit card companies to put a “travel alert” on your file detailing your travel plans, that way they don’t think the foreign transactions are fraudulent and freeze your accounts.
Purchase Insurance: Make sure to purchase travel insurance so the moment you leave your house to the time you arrive home you are covered. A lot of people still travel without travel insurance, and don’t realize the risk they are taking. Without travel insurance you may not receive the necessary medical care you need if the worst was to happen.
Avoid paying for car rental insurance: Check your current car insurance policy to see if it covers your rental car. Don’t forget to call your credit card company, a lot of them offer protection if you use your card when paying for the rental.
Make copies of your important documents: Make copies of important documents such as your passport, driver’s license, and health insurance card and upload them to the cloud. Having access to the information if needed will make it much easier to get replacements in the event of loss or theft.
Motorbike rental scams: If you rent a scooter, and it is already damaged, upon return the owner will sometimes demand expensive repairs as compensation.
Always take photos of the bike first before renting to document previous damage. Don’t tell the company where you’re really staying, and make sure there’s a safe place to leave the bike overnight. If damage does occur on your watch, take it to a repair shop recommended by someone other than the bike’s owner.
Don’t always believe the news: Don’t get scared of everything you here on the news, or that your destination is running alive with murders. Do your own research. Join a site such as lonelyplanet.com and ask the locals on the forums, they can usually tell you if it’s safe or not to travel to that location.
Taxi scams: While en route to your hostel, if a taxi driver tells you your hostel is either closed or overbooked and then try to take you to an expensive hotel it’s because the driver receives a nice fat commission from it. I’ve had Taxi drivers simply refuse to take me to my already agreed upon destination halfway into the trip, when this happens just make him stop, pay the meter fee, get out and hail another taxi. Arguing usually does nothing but make both parties frustrated and angry.
Also if the taxi driver refuses to turn on the meter, tells you that the meter is broken or that it’s cheaper without the meter, get out and opt for another taxi, usually it’s so he can charge you a outrageous price upon arrival, it will sometimes be upwards of a $100 dollars or more.
Always be careful, negotiate the rate ahead of time, or ensure the meter is working before you get in the car. Not all cab drivers are scammers but it’s always better to stay alert to the situation.
If you’re flying to a new country and you already know the hostel you will be staying, Email the hostel and ask if they offer shuttle service and if so then schedule a pickup. Most of the time it isn’t anymore expensive and will be much less stressful, especially if you don’t speak the local language.
If you do choose a taxi and don’t know the local lingo, visit Hostelworld.com, find the hostel you’ll be staying and since they usually have directions in the local language, just screen shot it with your phone, and show it to the taxi driver. As long as he knows how to read he will usually get you to your destination.
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