How to Visit Expensive Places on a Low Budget
Even if you don’t wear fancy pants on a regular basis, you can afford to visit fancy pants locales. The elite, exclusive and over the top travel destinations are possible to see. That’s right even the bummiest of you bums can find a way to visit the South of France or the Hamptons. What’s the secret to visiting an expensive place on a budget?
Fake it. You don’t need to be rich to live rich. By following the advice below you can make your dream vacation a reality.
Eat Cheap or Sleep Cheap
Instead of spending where it doesn’t count, prioritize the things that matter to you on your trip. If you’re really looking forward to a fancy dinner at the famous restaurant in town, go. Then make up for it by staying at cheap motels or campsites. On the other hand, if your trip is all about where you rest your head at night, save money by buying your meals from the grocery store. When I was a kid my Mom and I used to stay at some of the nicest (and most expensive) inns on Martha’s Vineyard. We’d balance out the cost by eating yogurt and sandwiches out on the pier. My Mom called it eating European style.
You can make substitutions to lighten the overall bill of your trip. Ride the bus instead of cabs. Take pictures to remember your trip instead of buying expensive souvenirs. Drink tap water instead of sparkling. Ask the locals what the best things to do in town are so you don’t have to hire a tour guide (hint: taxi drivers are amazing resources). You can travel like a king in some ways by spending like a pauper in others.
Every town, hotel and remote ski lodge offers some kind of a deal – the trick is just to find them. Half off for groups of ten. Free meals for kids under twelve. You can take advantage of great rates on hotel rooms, activities and meals by planning ahead. Forget travel agents – in today’s day and age you can cut out the middle man and find exceptional deals yourself, just by spending a few hours on the web. Keep your eyes on websites of the places you want to go. They may unexpectedly publish a limited time promotion. Check out the free activities that are available in the area by Google-ing “Free things to do in_____” or visiting travel sites like Viator that let you know what’s up. Find the best deals on flights by searching now. Most airlines give you an option to be notified whenever an especially cheap flight that matches your search criteria comes up for grabs. Sign up for those notifications! Where ever possible book your flight, rental car and hotel together on discount sites like Expedia (as mainstream as it’s become, it still has some good deals).
Bring Your Own
Just because you’re staying at fancy resort doesn’t mean you have to rely on them for everything. What’s wrong with buying your own groceries and eating in a few nights? It’s cheaper than the hotel restaurant. Save money when you travel by bringing things from home instead of buying them while you’re away – your own movies instead of pay per view, your own midnight snacks instead of room service. Remeber to pack the things you will need; sunscreen is always less expensive to buy in your home town than on the beaches of Hawaii. Oh, and please don’t forget your flask. That’ll save you bundles.
If your schedule allows, plan your trip around the cheapest times to travel. Avoid flying on the weekends – Tuesdays tend to be a cheaper day. Travel during the offseason – see Paris in winter or Costa Rica during the rainy season. Chances are the weather will still be decent, and you’ll have the added bonus of fewer tourists. Many travel websites now offer tools that allow you to compare the price of flights and hotels on different days. Take a look ahead of time to help you decide when to book. If you have enough time, volunteer at the airport to be bumped to a later flight in case they turn out to be overfilled (chances are they’ll thank you with a free flight).
You know the best way to get something out of people? Be nice to them. Being nice – sincerely nice – to waiters, flight attendants, concierges and housekeepers – is not only a good thing to do, it’s also a way to get the best advice/service/free stuff from them. Don’t believe me? My cousin went to Vegas on a meagre student budget. He planned to live off of crackers and peanut butter. But he decided to start of the trip with a nice dinner at a swanky, new restaurant. It was a place where everyone was there to look cool. Instead of ordering the waitress around to show off in front of his buddies, he was nice to her. The waitress was used to champagne doused jerks, not nice guys. She was so impressed by my cousin that she brought out the manager to meet him. He liked my cousin so much he introduced him to the manager of the hotel. Turned out the manager of the hotel knew the manager of the clubs – all of them. Next thing you know, my cousin had a trip of free limo rides, complimentary meals and VIP access to anywhere he wanted to go. All from being nice.
Almost nowhere is out of reach – or out of your budget- if you plan smart and think ahead. So get out there and start rubbing elbows with the rich!