11.03.2011

traveling on the cheap.

 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 planed 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?

xo,
jillian

ps for more traveling tips check out my 'beat the vacation blues' guest post on fashion truffles!

37 comments:

  1. I am TERRIBLE with budgets so we just haven't traveled much. However, I am getting so much better at it and definitely more savvy. This post is seriously helpful!

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  2. i totally agree with all of this. when i was traveling in europe, grocery stores and markets were my best friend. i would normally only eat out for dinner.

    http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com

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  3. Thanks for these great tips!

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  4. these tips are absolutely spot on! if you do your research you can have a great and budget friendly vacation! (p.s. kinder buenos are amaaaaazing!)
    xo

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  5. These totally hit the mark, I remember walking miles and miles in Europe with giant water bottles in hand.

    Kinder bueno is the best! My friend just brought me one back from London!

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  6. great tips!! i spend the most on eating out..def will try grocery shopping next time!

    xo

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  7. i love visiting the local grocery stores (esp. if its international) and seeing what chips they have!!

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  8. such great tips!

    i bought some cheetos when i was in the DR and that was the ONLY thing that tasted GOOD. the food was less than stellar.

    i am going to be using these tips for this lavish vacation i am planning.

    xo

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  9. These are all great tips- esp the water one. Totally got two huge jugs for two pounds and it was such a money saver.

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  10. These are all great tips and we implement all of them. Here's a couple more of our faves -- 1) Check airfare on Tuesdays. It is the day airlines publish new rates so you'll likely get the best deal that day. 2) I go a bit beyond the granola bar snacks and pack an actual meal for the flight out (sandwiches, nuts, fruit) so we can skip the $14 "snack pack" in flight. 3) (this one is super anal) I make a spreadsheet of clothing items as I buy them so I have a kind of "virtual" closet on my computer and then can use that to plan outfits for travel that maximize the resue of items. It doesn't make for *the* most exciting wardrobe but it means everything fits in that carry-on and I can easily lift it on my own.

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  11. Great tips for traveling abroad!!! Love the idea of buying a jug of water for the trip!

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  12. These are brilliant tips. I love going grocery shopping in foreign places. It's not quite as exciting to go to a grocery store in L.A. or something similar to what we have here, but grocery shopping in Spain, Italy, Mexico, and even Hawaii were all highlights of the trip. We discovered some great food and saw what the locals like to eat. And saved a lot of money, which is pretty great if you ask me!

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  13. Jillian I love these tips...sometimes it's hard to figure out ways to travel on the cheap...but this list is great! :)

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  14. Fantastic tips! I definitely save on transportation (doing just as you said up top) and on accommodations (by either couchsurfing or hostels...though I will always throw down for a couple of nights in a hotel) as much as possible. I love to be able to splurge on the experience (eating, drinking, etc.) and the shopping! It is amazing how much money you free up when you can eliminate hotel costs! xoxoxo brynn

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  15. This is all really great advice. We spent our money and time pretty similarly in Italy and chose to walk everywhere we could. We walked all the way across Rome several days and it made me feel so much better about everything. Cause not only did we get a lot of exercise to help counteract the pasta, wine and gelato but we got to see so much of Rome that we wouldn't have, saved money and saved the stress of the dealing with the language barrier in a taxi!

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  16. great post, jillian! i completely agree with you about packing snacks and an empty water bottle and walking everywhere!

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  17. These are such great tips! Its so easy to overspend when you're on vacation.

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  18. great tips! we always pack snacks and bring our own water bottles to refill. also - walking is the BEST way to get around : )

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  19. I love traveling too and I agree with all those tips, but especially walking! There's no better way to get to know a city, I think.

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  20. great tips!! love all of your ideas. walking everywhere can save so much cash.

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  21. im the same. i usually do restaurants for lunch instead of dinner...much cheaper, but i dont do it daily.

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  22. Great tips! I definitely agree with packing light and bringing a carry-on. No matter how long the trip is, I find a way to pack light and only bring a carry-on suitcase. The plus side of that too is that you never have to worry about your bag getting lost :)

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  23. Great tips! Well done. :)

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  24. I love your tips and couldn't agree more - museum free days were a life saver when I was in Europe. I also find that hostels generally know of specials going on around the city :)

    xoxo
    Jenna

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  25. Grocery shopping is actually one of my favourite things to do when I'm travelling!! I hardly ever eat out or take transport - I can proudly say I've walked all over Rome, London, Paris and many more cities. It's so much more fun that way, plus (as you mentioned) you don't have to feel guilty about having that extra piece of chocolate!

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  26. Very smart! I always bring cash when we travel, and budget a reasonable amount to spend per day-you avoid the hassles of international fees and conversion rates, and you always know what you have left!

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  27. I don't travel a TON but WANT to and need to save up money to do so! these tips are perfect =) we do the bulk water and snack packing buuut a lot of this is new for me! thanks love! =)

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  28. So funny, I always, always pack granola bars when we're traveling. Like you, I like to snack often so they always come in handy! That and roasted almonds with raisins ;)

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  29. Excellent post, Jillian!! These are some pretty smart moves to make while on a trip! Especially packing snacks and eating light for some meals.
    You're right on...spend your cash where it counts!!

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  30. Thanks for this post!! Lots of great tips.

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  31. these are great tips! When i went to Paris i did this kind of stuff a lot. The grocery store was great for quick, yummy lunches, and the free museum days were awesome! :)

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  32. FAB tips lady!!! (& i ALWAYS grocery shop too!)

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  33. these are great tips! we go to grocery stores a lot and do fun picnics when traveling

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  34. these are great tips... we definitely subscribe to the water in bulk theory. (which may or may not have resulted in a slight tiff today between us while in greenwich, actually.)

    we try to not blow our wad (i love that phrase) by keeping a mentality that we will be back. no need to go crazy, because we have another adventure coming that we will want to spend money on right behind this one.

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