so let's talk travel today. h and i love traveling, we have gone to New Orleans and Portland but Spain was our first overseas adventure together. with the purchase of a new condo and more trips planned in the future we had to be careful about how we spent our money while we were on vacation. here are some of our top tips::
before you arrive:
1. stalk the internet for cheap airfare. this one seems like an obvious tip but try to be patient. we scored our Barcelona plane tickets for $600/round trip. once h saw the listing he acted fast...and good thing because an hour later the fares went up another $200.
2. pack light. easier said than done right? to avoid extra checking fees carry on your bag. I'm not sure how i did it but i packed enough clothes and shoes (4 pairs!) for 9 days in Spain. the suitcase was pretty heavy but it fit in the overhead compartment and i didn't have to worry about losing my luggage.
3. pack snacks. i am the type of person that likes to eat every 3-4 hours so we packed a variety of granola bars. they were lifesavers.
while you're there:
1. find a grocery store. figure out how to say 'slices' and get adventurous in the deli and cheese department. h and i bought fresh baguettes, sliced ham + cheese (havarti!!) and had a little picnic a few times during our stay in Spain. i get sick of having restaurant food at every meal so it was a great, cheap alternative lunch option. lunch for two at the grocery store cost us 5 euro. just stay away from Spanish cheetos..we bought a bag that tasted like ham. GA-ross.
2. water. apparently most European cities don't like to give that stuff out for free. such a shame since i easily drink 10+ glasses a day. we packed water bottles in our suitcases (empty for American airports!) and once you arrive in your destination city buy the biggest jug of water you can find at the grocery store. it might be a pain to lug that sucker back to your hotel (or hostel) but in the end it'll be worth it not to shell out 1-3 euros for a bottle of water.
3. skip the taxi or metro and use your legs! while we were in Spain we walked a lot. at the end of the day i was pretty tired but i also didn't have to worry about eating loads of sweets and cheesy tapas (i had a built in workout routine!) walking allowed h and i to really experience the city--the sights, sounds and smells and take random detours whenever we wanted. it was fun to get lost and wander around for a bit! if you're not much of a walker consider renting bikes another cheap alternative to taxis and a great way to get some exercise and really see the city you're visiting.
4. museum free days. just because you don't pay an entry fee doesn't make the art less spectacular! we visited the museo del prado while we were in Spain. we had to wait in line for about 20 minutes but it was worth it once we got inside and walked around for a bit. turns out classic spainish art with heavy Christian influences isn't really our thing...so we didn't stay long but it was still an experience.
5. buy in bulk + tax free at the airport. i picked up a 16-pack of my favorite candy bars (kinder bueno) before leaving Barcelona (don't judge). i had these tasty treats when i visited Paris years ago so i was NOT going to miss the opportunity to stock up.
o don't over do it...and remember to have fun. even though we were watching what we spent we didn't totally deprive ourselves of everything- we went out for drinks, just not every night. we went shopping but we didn't buy the whole store (no room in those itty bitty suitcases anyways!) and we treated ourselves to a bike tour while we were in Barcelona. people have different priorities when they travel so be sure you're spending your cash where it counts. for me that was on sweets and some sweet new shirts.
how do you keep your budget in line when you travel?