1. Zoom in on places of interest that actually interest you
Sometimes, it’s not the destination that makes things expensive for you when you travel. It’s the attitude that you need to see and do a million things in order to get the most “value” out of your trip.
Imagine if you tried to cram all of Singapore’s tourist attractions into as short a space as possible. You might decide to visit the zoo and the Gardens by the Bay Flower Dome and Cloud Forest all in one day, followed by a cocktail at CÉ LA VI. That alone would set you back $80.
Perhaps you’ve never really cared about seeing the wax figures at Madame Tussauds, and ferris wheels like the London Eye strike you as a waste of money. Give those tourist attractions a miss and you’ve instantly saved 50 pounds, or over 100 SGD. Instead, visit places you’re truly interested in.
2. Visit local grocers or make your own meals
One reason people spend so much when they travel is the fact that they eat out at every single meal, usually in restaurants. As much as you might love pad thai / Korean barbecue / fish and chips / dim sum, try eating it twice a day every day for a week and you’ll soon be wishing you were back home.
Even if you’re a huge foodie and your sole reason (other than shopping, that is) for going on holiday is to eat, try to exercise some restraint and visit a local market or supermarket and prepare some meals on your own.
That doesn’t mean you need to eat the same old stuff you eat at home, either. You’ll be able to find some local specialties you never might have discovered otherwise, whether it’s taramasalata in Greece, paté in France or oven-dried tomatoes in Italy.
3. Use a map to get around via public transport
The locals aren’t taking taxis everywhere they go, and neither should you if you want to save money.
Many tourists refuse to familiarise themselves with the lay of the land and instead rely on drivers or taxis to get everywhere, even if their destination is just a ten minute walk away.
Get hold of a map of the area (there are often free ones at the airport, otherwise hotel reception desks are always happy to give them out) and figure out how to use public transport in the area you’re visiting.
In Bangkok, solo travellers can save a bit of money by riding the BTS Skytrain instead of taking tuk tuks everywhere. The Japanese subway system is super efficient and costs a lot less than taking expensive taxis. And if you’re in the Netherlands, renting a bicycle will get you everywhere you need to go.
4. Compare prices before you splurge
If you see a bunch of tourists elbowing shoppers out of the way, before you point a finger and accuse them, check first that they aren’t Singaporean. While most Singaporeans may not have the spending power of Chinese tycoons, that doesn’t stop them from coming back with suitcases bulging with shopping.
In fact, many of my friends spend thousands of dollars on shopping alone during the holidays.
If you’re going to buy a hundred boxes of Belgian chocolate, a DSLR from Japan or designer goods from France, at least compare the prices back home before you fork out the cash. Don’t assume products are necessarily cheaper in their country of origin. For instance, Chanel (if that’s how you roll) has standardised their prices all over the world.
Also convert currencies with some exactness instead of doing rough mental sums in your head. There’s nothing worse than returning to Singapore only to realise the exchange rate was twice of what you thought it was.
Most importantly, getting an accurate picture of how much something will really cost can keep you more disciplined about not exceeding your budget and prevent you from swiping your credit card with abandon.
This post appeared first on the MoneySmart blog.
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