Spend less, experience more

Try these 10 tricks to trim your expenses

collage of money optionsThe world is a bouquet of beautiful countries, diverse cultures, lovely people, and inviting landscapes. It is also full of pickpockets and strangers lurking around with bad intentions.

So, travel smart—carry just enough cash and stash it away in different areas of your backpack or money belt. Use other modes of transaction instead, like travellers' cheques and international debit cards. Here are some more money-saving ideas you can use when travelling.

Keep traveller's cheques

Traveller's cheques are now considered a thing of the past. Still, they are equivalent to cash and are useful when travelling overseas. The transaction is protected against loss or theft and is readily accepted worldwide by banks, retailers and foreign exchange bureaus.

So, carry some for unanticipated emergencies. Don't forget to sign them. Also, note down the serial numbers of the cheques in a safe place in case the cheques get lost.

Use the internet for calls

Internet can save you even more money than international calling cards. Many websites allow you to make free voice or even video calls over the internet.

The best part is that the person you are calling doesn't have to be online at the same time; you can call her even on a landline or cell phone for free. To further reduce the expense, access Wi-Fi internet from your hotel room.

Grab discounts coupons

Browse the internet for online discount coupons on amusement parks, tourist sites, and restaurants. Amusement parks have multi-day passes or special rates for admission late in the day. Museums often have a day every month when the admission is free.

Keep a currency converter handy

Be aware of the currency exchange rate of the country you are visiting. Download a currency converter on your phone. You can even get updates of the exchange rates over the internet. It's a good idea to exchange your money at the airport-currency exchange office or at the currency exchange machine.

Both of these places charge a fee, which is less-than-the-generous exchange rate. But, the best and cheapest way to get currency is by using your own international ATM debit card. The bank processes the payment immediately at a good rate.

You have to pay an ATM transaction fee, along with an extra fee for an international transaction. How much it will be depends upon your bank and the country you are travelling to.

Be email friendly

Postcards have their charm. But emails or social networking sites are a cheaper and instant alternative. Click yourself with Tom Cruise at the Madame Tussauds gallery and send it away. Friendly 'envious' email replies from friends will be your moment of pride.

Save on your stay

You can save on lodging by comparing prices of hotel rooms online. Compare the rates for the same hotel on different sites. You will be amazed to find out that prices on some sites are lower than that on others. Look for budget stay options or discounts on guestrooms.

A smart traveller can save up to 30 – 40 per cent on a live hotel booking with a little digging around. Hotel rates depend on the country you are visiting as well. You save less then Rs 1000 in a cheaper sector like Bangkok or Malaysia.

But a hotel booking in US or Europe will generate a saving of more than Rs 5000. For more savings, you can even share a home with a local family. It's a great way to experience the country's hospitality and form new friendships.

Eat well, the local way

Experimenting the varied cuisines is in itself a satisfying adventure for the food connoisseur, but, you need not visit a hi-profile restaurant to taste the country's cuisine.

In fact, some of the best local fare can be savoured at local bakeries or restaurants, both of which offer scrumptious meals at a nominal cost.

Get a travel card

Travel cards offer liquidity of cash and safety of traveller's cheques. Travel cards that are a rage right now are similar to a debit card and are pre-paid—you can buy one and load it with foreign currency.

The card can be used like a debit card in any foreign country at any outlet that accepts Visa cards. A travel card is accepted by merchants with less identification and scrutiny procedures than personal cheques and also allows travellers to withdraw cash from any Visa ATM at no extra charge, other than a foreign ATM fee.

Buy travel insurance

Speaking of emergencies, a travel protection cover is a must for an international trip. It covers encounters such as illness, default of an airline, strike that causes complete cessation of services of the common carrier, compensation for loss of or delays in delivery of checked baggage in an international airline, and loss of passport.

Here, instead of saving directly on the cost of travel insurance, you can gain by opting for a cover that offers add-ons such as emergency cash covers, hospital daily allowances, hijack distress allowance, personal safety allowance, and medical evacuation.

Switch to an international calling card

When you are abroad, international calling cards prove to be great money-savers. These are of two kinds—global calling cards as well as domestic calling cards, which you can activate by obtaining a 10-digit PIN code.

These cards save you money in two ways: first, they save you money per call since the call rates are cheaper than roaming. Second, as they are pre-paid, you can limit your expenditure on phone calls. The savings on your bill are substantial.

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