Here are some money-saving tips that I have found useful and always apply on my own trips. Plus, they may be applied wherever you are in the world.
1. Check and Pay using different currencies
First, excluding the bank and money changers, locals usually accept U.S. dollar besides their local currency. Even if it is Singapore Dollars, a Thailand businessman would most probably not accept as well. When paying for something, especially one with a larger sum e.g. Volcano Hiking Tour of US$60 in Costa Rica, check how much would it be for you to pay in local currency, and U.S. dollar. The exchange rate was US$1 = 530CRC, but businessman usually calculate in round figures and they could end up charging you 30000CRC instead of 31800CRC. Although that is US$3.40/1,800CRC difference, it is equivalent to 3 cans of beer in Costa Rica.
2. Buy, Sell, Trade
Especially for longer stays, buying second-hand item in that country and selling it later when you are leaving the country (if it can still be sold), may come cheaper than paying for daily rentals. In New York City, a full-day bicycle rental can cost $40/day (or look for promotions like this). An used bicycle may be purchased starting from $50 (try Craigslist), and if you are staying for 2 weeks lets say, you could be saving yourself $500 of rental fee. Or check out Citibike if you are in New York City. The only drawback may be that you have to park it after every 30mins, or you could opt for more time at an additional cost.
*Tip here is to get the lowest cost as possible when purchasing so that you won’t have to spend a lot on this particular item, or nothing at all!
For long-term travellers, you would not want to carry a year’s worth of outfit on your back nor look the same in all pictures. Look for a store that buys, sells and trade after some time on the road, say Beacon’s Closet in New York City for example, and trade-in those that you have worn previously for a new set of clothes! We have Carousell in Singapore that does the same and you can start sourcing for potential traders even before you arrive, then get all the process done when you are here.
3. Friends, to share cost with
One of the benefits I mentioned in my Destination Guide: Costa Rica is that private room can cost less than a bed in the dormitory, by splitting the cost with another person. Not just that. To go through all the trouble buying, washing, chopping, to cook for one can be very time-consuming. Ask the people in your hostel if anyone would like to share a meal. Split up the task, have each person prepare a dish, eat together with a few cans of beer over music and laughter. It also means buying in bulk with a few more stomachs to fill and the cost usually comes up lesser. Friends made from the heart, not just friends for benefits! = no lonely meal time, get to know cuisines of your friends’ home country plus, time and money saved. #goodtimes
4. Search for Coupons/Discounts
Look into your email and you might find yourself a little surprise – the forgotten voucher you won participating in a Scoot’s contest. For everything, you can always type “particular thing + coupon/discount/voucher” on Google and see if there is anything that you can use. For example, if I need to book an accommodation on Airbnb, I would type “Airbnb discount code“. For dining, try mobile apps like PickatSG (Singapore), or Scoutmob (United States). Type in the restaurant of your choice and see if there is any coupon available. While already at the restaurant, always ask if there are any other on-going promotions.
5. Dining; Ask if there is Economical Menu available
While travelling in Panama, I found this offered in a hostel. Some restaurants offer the same meal in smaller portion (great if you have small appetite) at a discounted price, and it aims to provide budget-traveller/student the opportunity to dine out/enjoy a bit of luxury. Thank You! Though not widely available, it never hurts to ask wherever you are. Businessman may learn a new thing at your mention, and if it is doable, they would implement this idea at their restaurant. If you ever return, you could benefit from it as well dining for less.
6. Accommodation; Book only for the first night
Or not book at all and go hunting when you have arrive – recommended if the weather is pleasant, you are not rushed for time, and that you are not arriving at night. By not booking for your entire trip, you can walk-in and ask for rates which you may get offers lower than shown online, as mentioned on Destination Guide: Costa Rica. Also, they would usually offer you a special rate rather than the full price when you reveal that you are staying for more than a few days. Some places also offer discounted rates if you pay for your entire stay upfront/during check-in. Not recommended if you are on a short vacation – those public holidays, annual leave, are very precious!
That is it for now. Will probably come up with a second series when I have acquired more. Meanwhile, leave a comment below if you have any tips to share.