When on holiday, it can be tempting to overspend, or not keep track of what you are shelling out for until you get home to the dreaded credit card bills. It’s far better to stick to your agreed budget and know exactly what you need to buy – and how much you should expect to spend on it without getting ripped off as a foreigner.
The following tips will help you spend your holiday money wisely while still having a good time.
Know how to handle tips and gratuities
When you dine out, look closely at your bill and check whether you really have to give a tip. Some hotels and restaurants include the tip in their prices and others use the words ‘service’ and ‘tip’ interchangeably.
Find out your destination country’s attitude to tipping before you go. It’s practically essential in a lot of the US, while in China, tipping is considered an insult. Some countries have laws related to tips, including Finland and the Czech Republic.
Choose cheaper alternatives for dining out
One good option for a less expensive lunch or dinner is to find out where the university and college students go. Many college restaurants are open to the public as well. These places can be crowded, but being surrounded by relaxed, happy natives is a great way to get to know a country’s unique culture, while enjoying a properly authentic versatile meal.
Choosing take away food, e.g. a slice of pizza or sandwich from a window-service eatery or street stall, will save money too. The cost of eating like this tend to remain low, since many locals enjoy eating on the go, so prices are not directly targeted at the tourist trade.
Find the right ATM machines
When you come back to your hotel after a day’s exploring, take a look through your credit card slips and ATM receipts. This will let you know the different fees you have been charged. You can then plan the rest of your spending around the cheaper outlets.
Many banks charge an international fee for withdrawing funs abroad. For instance, if the Bank of America does not have an alliance with a foreign bank, it will charge you a fee every time you take your money from an ATM machine belonging to that bank. It is worth doing some research beforehand to find out your best ATM options in advance.
HSBC bank has branches worldwide and doesn’t charge international fees.
Don’t forget to factor in ‘getting around’ costs
Taxis are a very convenient way to get around town and some can be cheap. However, they are often very expensive and charges vary wildly, depending on location, driver, number of passengers etc.
If you want to get somewhere quickly and cheaply, you may prefer to use the bus, metro, or other public transport systems. They are efficient, plus they do not encounter traffic jams on the way.
Shop like a seasoned tourist
When you shop like a ‘proper’ tourist, you search out products that represent the country’s arts and crafts, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Such products are often hand-made and prices can be lower, compared to designer or high street brands imported from other countries. Buying the indigenous products directly from their maker will enable you to secure them at a much lower price and will give you some great stories to tell back home.
Try to avoid tourist-targeted shops. You will see unlimited numbers of tacky t-shirts and shirts with bad quality fonts and design. Some shop-keepers will also try to sell you fake, or bad quality products at a discount which are not even worth the proposed lower price. Keep your wits about you and your wallet or purse securely stashed away when not in use.