There are common sense travel tips, like “Check at least three web sites to get the best deal on plane tickets.” Then there are the tips that are more along the line of “secrets.” These are the little-known tricks learned by experience. Here are some of the best of those.
Cheap Travel Tips
Find out where local visitors from within the country stay. The cheapest “tourist hotel” I could find when in a resort town in Mexico was $135. I asked a local businessman where to find a cheap room, and got one for $10. There wasn’t a swimming pool, but the room was spotless. I was there to travel, not to lounge, so this suited me fine.
Negotiating room charges is common in many countries. In Banos, Ecuador, we negotiated our room rate down from $12 to $6 per night, by paying for several nights in advance. The trick here is to be sure that there are other options, then make your final offer and walk away. Most owners will call you back and lower the price.
Consider hostels, if you don’t mind sharing a room. They’re much more common overseas. This saves you a lot if you are single, because you pay for the bed. I once spent four days in a hostel for $4 per day, breakfast included. I shared a room with several others, and a TV room with travelers from 16 countries.
Hotels in the U.S. are less likely to negotiate, but we have done it. Most small chain motels are not company-owned, but franchises, so it is usually the owner behind the counter. Paying for several nights in advance, or just starting to walk away, has resulted in discounts for us many times.
Travel is often only as cheap as your plane tickets. For international travel, search the fares to several countries that you would like to visit. Go to the cheapest one now – the others will be cheap another time, and a savings of $500 can buy a few extra days, or an extra mini-vacation some other time.
Anywhere you go, there are things you can do to keep it cheaper. Eat where locals eat, for example, instead of at tourist restaurants. See the free and cheap attractions first. You might have so much fun that you’ll never get around to doing the expensive things. Higher prices mean better quality with travel bags, but not necessarily with travel experiences.
Other Travel Tips
E-mail important documents to yourself. These should include a copy of your passport, other IDs, phone numbers of the U.S. Consulate offices where you’ll be, and your itinerary or e-tickets for any flights. In this way, even if you are robbed and lose everything, you’ll have access to all the important documents from any internet cafe in the world.
On a streetcar, I once had a pocket unzipped and the wallet removed without feeling a thing. Many pickpockets are experts. Fortunately, it was a “decoy” wallet, with nothing but a few pieces of paper, and a fake credit card. Other ways to protect money, cards and documents include putting a bill or two under the inner sole of running shoes, safety-pinning a hidden pocket inside your pants, and hiding cash in several different places.
I see young travelers in other countries walking anywhere they feel like it at night, and then being shocked that they are robbed. Aren’t there places in New York or Chicago where you wouldn’t walk at night? Ask the locals where it is safe and where it isn’t, and trust your intuition when it warns you. Leave expensive clothing and jewelry at the hotel when you are just out for a walk. Safety tricks are the most important travel tips.