Anyway, back to the BootsnAll article: Japan was the first of the expensive countries they mentioned, and rightly so, because a lot of tourist basics there are very pricey. In my experience, though, the priciest way to visit Japan is to continue to live the same lifestyle you live at home. Blend in for a bit more of a Japanese experience and the price drops immediately. I never found food expensive in Japan - unless I tried to eat western-style breakfasts of toast and cereal. I think it only took me a week of living there to switch to rice for breakfast and I never looked back.
|A Japanese train I saw while on a budget trip to Kyushu|
Switzerland also rated a (well-deserved) mention as an expensive country to travel to. My sister-in-law lives there with her husband and three children, and I'm often shocked by some of the exorbitant prices they explain. They're fortunate to live very close to the German border and they literally go over the border once a week to do their big supermarket shop in Germany, thereby saving a small fortune. My best advice for living the budget life in Switzerland? - make sure you marry someone whose sister lives there, so you've always got somewhere to stay! I've been lucky enough to be able to visit Switzerland numerous times and never had to pay for a hotel room!
|View over Basel - my favourite Swiss city|
But anyway, whenever you travel to Western countries it's unlikely to be cheap, so what this post all boils down to is this - Amanda's cheapskate travel rules:
- Do what the locals do. This is one of the simplest ways to reduce your expenditure and it pretty much doesn't matter where you are - an expensive or a cheap country or somewhere in between. Eat where they eat (the food's probably better, too), stay where they'd stay, take the transport they'd take. I would definitely argue that this strategy doesn't just save money but will give you a more authentic and fun travel experience.
- In case you've already got married or can't find a partner with a sibling in Switzerland, then my more general rule of thumb here is to consider travelling to places where you know people. I don't mean this in a "sponge off them" sense, but the idea of having locals who can show you around and tell you the tricks of the trade, so to speak, is a great way to keep your budget down. Along these lines, my trips in Russia where I stayed with homestay hosts were similar - I didn't know them ahead of time, but once I was there they gave me great tips on places to eat, how to get around, and so on, the kind of money and time-saving information you mightn't get in a posh hotel.
- There are also times when looking at stuff like coupons for cheap travel and discount codes for hotel bookings will do the trick - in other words, sometimes a little bit of research can go a long way. This applies both to the usual idea of comparing flight prices and accommodation costs, but also to things like checking if museums you want to visit have a day each week or month when they're free to enter (quite a few do), finding "happy hours" for great pubs and special deal nights at restaurants. If you really are on a tight budget, it is worth putting some research time in to be able to make the most of your trip.
Of course, there are dozens of other ways to save money while you're travelling but these are definitely my favourite - what are your favourite ways to be a budget traveller?