Many people ask me for foreign travel tips, destinations, activities, where to eat, and many other questions. But one of the doubts that comes up most often is: How to save on my trips abroad?
There are many possible answers to this question, but the shortest and simplest is: Do as the locals do! Of course, you will probably prefer a little more detail on this, so I will separate the issue into some areas.
1- How to save on telephony and internet when traveling abroad
One of the higher costs of a trip, if you do not take enough care, can be telephony and internet.
In this regard, doing as the locals means to abandon the Brazilian telephone and internet plan and make a local prepaid plan, of the country where you are.
This is much simpler in the United States, where you make a plan of these in one state, and you can use it without problems and no additional costs in other countries.
Already in Europe, this is not so, an Italian plan will work in Germany, but will incur additional costs. Saving to the maximum in Europe in telephony and internet can mean hiring a plan in each country visited. The good news is that in Europe there are plenty of weekly plans. In which you pay a fee, say 8 Euros, and the plan covers 7 days of internet use and a few minutes to make calls.
Do not fall for the deception of paid internet plans in hotels. These plans are usually expensive, and the hotel internet is not always fast as you might expect.
Be sure to pick up your local SIM card with a complete plan that includes both connection minutes and SMS, as well as the internet. Some plans even include calls to Brazilian landlines, and in some cases, also SMS to mobile phones in Brazil.
If you enjoy having a plan B or relieving the use of traffic in your local mobile plan, which in some cases may slow down after reaching a specific amount of traffic, you can complement this solution with a Wi-Fi, such as Boingo Wireless, you can use several Wi-Fi HotSpots, both free and paid, for the fixed price of the Boingo Wireless plan, and without having to create a login for each HotSpot.
Another interesting addition may be to have credit on your Skype. It is useful in situations where you may need to call a Brazilian cell phone (usually not covered by the mobile plans, even the most complete ones). Or even to call landlines from anywhere in the world.
100% VoIP solutions, that is, that the two partners are using nothing more than the internet also help a lot. Skype itself is very useful for this. I’ve used Viber for a long time, but today, with Facebook Messenger having the same function, Viber has become redundant and I’ve deleted it from my Smartphone.
You can also use Google Hangouts for this feature, including video. If you happen to live in Apple’s fenced-in garden (I’m a double agent, but I’ll talk about it another time), you can also use Facetime, both in voice and video and invoice only.
Last but not least, there is the option to communicate only in the push-to-talk style, that is, in that function where you push the button, talk, and the other person receives and listens, and then repeats the operation so that you receive the audio from it. I’m not talking here about the super-boring Nextel phones. But Apps functions like the super-known WhatsApp. But remember that Facebook Messenger itself also has the same function.
2- How to save on transportation when traveling abroad
To save on transportation you have to … Do as the locals, that’s right! So that will depend on what the fate of your next trip is.
In Europe, for example, there are several ways to save money by using trains, for example. The best known is the pass that will entitle you to unlimited travel in one or more countries by the number of days hired, which can be consecutive or non-consecutive days.
In 2006, my wife and I saved a lot by using one of these passes, the Eurail Global Pass, which gave us unlimited travel for a period of 15 consecutive days in virtually every Western European country. We use our ticket to travel through Italy, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria in exactly this order.
The freedom to move freely, picking up as many trains we decide to pick up, paying a fixed cost really generates quite a great economy and tranquility. And let’s face it, there is no way to travel more European than the trains, is not it?
Even though traveling by train in Europe is a great option, it is also true that in small mountain towns, for example, the train may not be the best option, making the car the most viable option for traveling in Europe.
Already in the United States, the car is probably the most viable option almost everywhere, with a few minor exceptions, like the case already mentioned here in New York.
There are several ways to save money with a rental car in the United States (and also in Europe). The most important should be taken into consideration already when renting your car.
I always rent cars that I use in my travels abroad independently, or directly on the websites of the rental companies (Hertz, Alamo, Sixt, etc.), or on the group sites (Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Priceline).
Not every grouper works the same way, so not everyone can make sense to you at all times. Some operate simply and directly or have one of their functions in this way, they list the names of the rental companies in a column, and in the lines the types of vehicles available. These are the most simple sorter types to use.
There are also groupers that allow you to get deeper discounts, always with a technique that usually chases away most tourists, in some cases you only know the name of the rental company after confirming and paying for your reservation, and in other cases still, you need to give a kind of “bid”, something like “wants to pay how much?”, this function exists on the Priceline site and is called Name Your Own Price. After a few minutes you find out if your bid has been approved and, if so, your reservation is confirmed.
Another way to save even in the initial phase of car rental, which I have used several times, and was recently also used with great success by my brother Daniel, who is scheduled to travel to California and Nevada, is to start doing one or more car reservations of that type in which you pay nothing before, and can cancel at any time. This type of booking is great for securing a fare that is at least adequate for the type of car you want or at least the least you are willing to get.
And, once a week from the first booking, you start to pay again, in case you get a better price for the same type of car, or the same price for a higher type of car, you make the new reservation and only later this drops the previous reservation.
And you are repeating this procedure until prices start to rise, or you have arrived at the perfect car for your trip. I have already shared this information before but I will confess here that the type of car that I consider perfect for my travels, even when traveling with my wife alone is the Minivan (Chrysler Grand Caravan, Dodge Town & Country, and even better, Toyota Sienna). This for me is the best type of car because of the extra space for luggage, as well as the technology and amenities that this type of car usually has, such as automatic opening and closing of the 3 rear doors.
There are those who argue that you can save on fuel by renting one of those very compact cars, like the Kia Rio, Chevrolet Aveo, and the like, but I’d rather save on day-to-day fuel in Brazil and enjoy more space and comfort when traveling. Even because in my day-to-day life in Brazil I do not have to carry luggage everywhere. I have already rented smaller cars, but this in general happened more in Europe, where I picked up the nice Fiat Panda several times. In one of these situations, I traveled from Northern Italy to Munich, Germany, to visit the Oktoberfest that takes place there.
Another way to save money on transportation in Florida is the way the SunPass toll system works there. As I talked about this topic recently I will leave here the link for you to know more.
3- How to economize on hosting when traveling abroad
With regards to accommodation, you can also, as with cars, try to use the unsecured booking technique, and continue budgeting your lodging week after week, and after getting a cheaper hotel reservation or a better hotel ( more stars, better located, etc.), bring down the previous reservation. But it is worth remembering here that hotel accommodation prices vary less in short time periods than car rental prices.
Another approach that also works with hosting is the use of groupers and blind booking sites, such as our well-known Priceline and Hotwire. These two, with respect to the reservation of hotels, divide the hotels by the number of stars, and the area where they are located. You will only know in which hotel you will be staying after paying for your reservation. I’ve stayed in good hotels paying well less using these two sites. In Fort Lauderdale, for example, I stayed in a great hotel on the waterfront, so close to the beach that we were walking there. For this hotel I paid via Hotwire approximately ⅓ of the amount I would pay for the hotel’s website, or if I showed up at the counter without a reservation.
In Orlando I also stayed in a beautiful hotel, considered 4 stars, paying about 35% less than the hotel website or appearing in the hotel without reservation. This is a great way to get low-priced hotel accommodation.
Having said that, I will now share with you my preferred hosting solution that adds quality and great prices, which is also the most “local” way of staying.
Obviously, I’m talking here about staying in a temporary rental house. This option exists all over the world, and still in greater quantity in the United States. And there, it seems to me that the area with the highest concentration of temporary rental houses is even around Disney and Orlando.
There is no form of lodging that will allow you a greater immersion in the American Way of Life. You will feel like a resident even though you are only there for a few days or weeks.
The whole thing is very cool, from arriving in your gated community, driving to the front of your house, being able to enjoy your living room, kitchen, bedrooms, pool, all this private and with all comfort. I strongly believe that those who experience this form of hosting once, come back to opt for it on their next visits.
And this form of hosting allows you to save good money, depending on the number of people who make up your group. A group of six people can easily rent a three-bedroom house for the price of only two rooms in a hotel that has a similar level to that of the house.
Learn more about temporary housing rentals near Orlando in this text.
4- How to economize on food when traveling abroad
Remember, the idea here is to do as locals whenever possible.
In case you are staying in a temporary rental house, going to the market and buying supplies at least for breakfast and snacks already ensures a good economy. If you buy food also for one or the other lunch and dinner at home, it will further increase your potential for savings.
Another way to save on food in the United States would be to enjoy those restaurants that are not beautiful or stylish but offer good food at great prices. I’m talking here about restaurants frequented by retirees, police, and military. If you go through a restaurant and notice groups of retirees, military, and police, know that this is a restaurant frequented by locals and therefore will have great value for money.
These same restaurants usually also have the Early Bird Special, or literally the Early Bird Special. This promotion, very common in this type of restaurant, gives special discounts to people who come to dine at non-traditional times. Such as mid-afternoon. When it’s late for lunch, and early for dinner.
If the level of savings you seek is even greater, you can always appeal to the Dollar Menu of Fast Food networks. In this menu, you will find several items at only one dollar. This way you can compose your meal in this way, an example: A small hamburger, a bag with 3 nuggets, and a small glass of drink. Result, $ 3 + fees. Very economical, is not it? Healthy? Not really!
How to economize with food in Europe
Already in Europe, the basic technique of doing as the residents is the same.
Do not eat in the central squares, on the outskirts of big train stations, and on the fashionable shopping avenues, in case you want to save money on food.
Look for the little-explored streets, where locals will eat their meals, drink their ice creams, drink their coffees. Europeans are known to be little spenders, so if natives attend a place, it certainly has great value for money.
When traveling by car in the mountains in Italy, stop at the restaurants on the ground floor of small family run hotels. They usually offer great food at very inviting prices. And in general, these meals will be quite plentiful. Almost always served in steps, often you will pay a fixed price for all these steps, plus a drink, and still a coffee. These eating experiences are often bargains.
Many markets in Europe also offer prepared food. I’ve eaten pizza made in wood-burning ovens in Northern Italy, buffet style food in Austria, and so on. This is also a great way to save a few Euros.
Traveling is always something sensational, but it can also prove to be quite expensive. Not everyone can travel and still indiscriminately spend abroad. That is why it is important to understand which forms of saving are within our reach.
I agree that when traveling you should not have to keep counting the cents, but if eating more economically during part of the trip or opting for a more economical way of hosting will allow you to return to travel earlier, would not it be worth it? feather? I strongly believe so.