Tips for travelling cheaply in any city
I’ve spent most of the past five years travelling across dozens of countries. The question I hear most is, “How can you afford that?” No one believes it’s possible to travel cheaply and comfortably, but it is. Here’s how you can do it.
Stay at a hostel: Today’s hostels are clean, cheap, for all ages, and in many cases, gorgeous. I’ve stayed in hostels that were better than most hotels I’ve been in. Though the average age skews younger, I’m 40 and I’m never the oldest in any hostel I’ve stayed at, and often I’m not even the oldest in my room.
If you’re curious about these low-cost, often-luxe living spaces, check out hostel booking sites like Hostelworld and Hostelz. You’ll get user reviews for each hostel, plus tons of pictures.
Skip the restaurants: Grocery stores and markets around the world offer far cheaper food than any restaurant. If you stay at a hostel or Airbnb, most have kitchens and refrigerators, so you can store easily prepared meals or ingredients you buy while you’re out and about.
Pack light: Being able to carry your luggage with ease opens all sorts of money-saving options, like walking and public transport, instead of needing an expensive cab or car service to get you and your bags from place to place.
Regardless of how long your trip is, aim for no more than a carry-on and a day pack.
Use local SIM cards: Roaming fees are like an ominous and pending threat looming over any trip. How much will checking email cost? Will I be charged $5 to look at Google Maps?
Get a local SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card instead, if you can. SIM cards are available virtually everywhere you might travel. You may even find them in vending machines or kiosks in the airport, although those will likely be more expensive than one you’ll find once you get into town or closer to your hotel.
Buy a local metro card: The local train or subway systems in nearly every major city have cards that offer discounted rates for people who ride frequently. If you’re in a city for more than a few days, these will likely save you a lot.
Avoid the tourist traps: I always thought this was obvious, yet restaurants near tourist hot spots are always packed. They’re almost universally overpriced, with mediocre food.
The worst pasta I’ve had in my life was adjacent to St Mark’s Square in Venice. Instead, walk a few blocks in any direction. You’re bound to find something cheaper and better.