If wanderlust is your middle name, follow these tips for seeing the world on a shoestring budget.
- Know the exchange rate of the country you’re planning to visit. Will food and lodging be more or less expensive than they would be in the U.S. If the costs are prohibitive, consider visiting countries where the U.S. dollar is strong.
- Be flexible with travel dates to save on flights. Booking a vacation in “off months” can also offer significant savings.
- Shop package deals. Sometimes purchasing airfare, lodging and a rental car at once can offer hundreds of dollars in savings.
- Pack smart so you don’t have to stock up on expensive items upon your arrival, like film, special clothes and toiletries.
- Exchange currency at banks, not at hotels or airports. This is where you’ll find the best exchange rates.
- Careful with cabs etc. Find out the going rate of activities, food and cab fare, and don’t be afraid to bargain. Visitors will likely have to pay more than locals, but it pays to have an idea of what’s fair or you could end up paying significantly more. Research the local public transportation to get around town and to and from the airport. Many cities offer weekly passes for buses and underground trains for a significant savings.
- Consider playing it by ear. If you don’t choose a package deal, it’s generally much less expensive to plan for your lodging after arrival, so you can cut out the fees paid to travel agents, websites and operations.
- Keep charges under $400 US per person to avoid a 10% tax.
Research entrance requirements and warnings for the areas you’re planning to visit at travel.state.gov
Get a passport or ensure yours is up-to-date at travel.state.gov
In his 40-plus-year newspaper career, George Morris has written about just about everything -- Super Bowls, evangelists, World War II veterans and ordinary people with extraordinary tales. His work has received multiple honors from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press and the Louisiana Press Association. He avoids debt when he can and pays it off quickly when he can't, and he's only too happy to suggest how you might do the same.