- How to make your dollar count in Travel, Food, and Fun -
First things first, how do you get there?
Most likely, travel costs will be the most expensive part of your trip. For starters, check sites like Skyskanner, Norweigen Air, and Student Universe for flights - BUT make sure that you are in private browsing mode to ensure that prices aren't inflated. Another trick is to buy your flights on Tuesdays. Often times prices tend to dip down rather than on Fridays and Saturdays when they peak. Even if my plans aren't complete I try and buy my flight in/out of the country as soon as possible and at least 2 months before my journey.
In Europe, one of the best sites I found for getting around was Go Euro. I went to Berlin on a $9 bus, traveled to Budapest for just over $30, and found many other trips for extremely low prices. Traveling by bus and train is easy and cheap from Central Europe, however sometimes you can find quicker flights for just a few bucks more. Be sure to check Skyscanner and Ryanair as well, but make sure that your luggage will meet the requirements! If not, you may end up paying double what you originally did if your bag is overweight or size.
Mythbuster: Don't get a EuroRail pass. There are many other forms of transportation and often times EuroRail can end up being inconvenient or too far.
central & south america
What I found in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru was a bit less organized of a system. In Costa Rica, we mainly drove as I was with a group & I suggest doing the same especially if you are visiting a rural area. In Ecuador & Peru, my biggest tip is to ask locals! We would ask around, stand on the side of the road, and wait for a certain colored bus to pass by. It can seem a little daunting, but it ends up working out. Make sure you map out a plan to ensure your safe travels home after dark.
In the Philippines, we also drove and taxi'd around. The traffic is horrible in Manila, so expect a lot. In addition, we took small flights and boats to various islands, which can be purchased online with a little research!
when to splurge & when to save?
One of the most exciting things about traveling is trying new foods and flavors. Everyone wants to treat themselves as royalty while on vacation. If you're on a shorter trip, then I would say go for it. Budget out a certain amount to spend each day and stick to it. However, budgeting for food gets harder when you're spending months in a certain place.
While I was abroad, I followed a simple rule: eat in on week days, eat out on weekends. This worked out because I was still able to eat the local Czech food when I stayed in town for the weekend and also feel better about splurging when traveling to other countries. It helped that I lived in a country where everything was extremely cheap in comparison, but I still stuck to this plan. Easy and quick dining in meals included eggs, lentils, veggie burgers, stir-fry, and pasta. With plenty of free time, my friends and I also got around to family potlucks and more complex dishes like artichoke dip, baked mac n cheese, and homemade fried chicken. Although its tempting to eat out all the time, keep in mind that it adds up and could cost you a weekend trip towards the end!
there's plenty of it... & lots for free!
One thing I learned is that there are plenty of free events while you travel. Art galleries, exhibits, festivals, and more can be discovered if you simply search or talk to a local travel agency. In addition, if you are a student, almost everywhere you go will have a student discount. In Athens, my student card even got me into Acropolis for FREE! Don't hesitate to ask everywhere you go.