The ability to save money while traveling to one’s dream destination is an incredibly appealing prospect for most people.  There are many cost-saving options which apply to most travel.

Getting from the Airport to your hotel

        Let’s say you’ve just deplaned at the airport and you’re trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to get to your hotel.  Of course, as with many situations, this depends on a variety of factors. How close is the hotel to the airport? Are you traveling alone, or with someone else?  If you’re traveling with others, how many people are in your group? Are you okay with taking public transportation?

        By and large, the cheapest way to get from any airport to your hotel is going to be public transportation, assuming of course that said transportation actually has a stop at or near your hotel.  Nearly all major cities around the planet have some form of public transportation that leads from the airport to areas of high interest. For instance, from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to the city center, it costs about $11 to take the public train (50 minute journey).  For a basic bus, it costs $13 (80 minute journey) and for a slightly faster bus (called “Le Bus”), it costs around $19 (60 minute journey). However, there is usually an additional ride that a traveler must take, via subway or another train or bus, in order to actually arrive at the neighborhood where his or her hotel is.  The cost of this additional ride is usually about two or three dollars.

        A taxi ride from Charles de Gaulle to the center of Paris only takes 35-45 minutes but it costs a flat rate of $68, up to four people.  For parties higher than 4 people, it costs only an additional $4.50 per person. So for a group of 6 people taking a taxi from Charles De Gaulle airport to the city center, it can cost as little as $12.83 per person, which is only slightly higher than the very lowest cost of $11 per person to take the train.  When one accounts for the additional two or three dollars that a person usually has to spend on a subway or local bus ride to arrive at or near his or her hotel, taking the taxi is actually cheaper in this case. And there’s virtually no wait time for a taxi.

        Although ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft have been banned in many European and other international destinations, they are widely used in the United States to whisk weary travelers from the airport to the comfort of their hotel.  And Uber and Lyft rides cost about 20% to 40% less than do taxi rides. From Los Angeles International Airport to downtown Los Angeles, for instance, it’s possible to pay as little as seven or eight bucks per person if traveling as a group of 4 or more.

Our suggestion chart:

Group Size Recommended Mode of Transportation from Airport to Hotel

1  – Public transportation.

2Public transportation.  Rideshare service (Uber or Lyft) if it’s available and if comfort outweighs.

3Rideshare service (Uber or Lyft) if it’s available.  If no rideshare service is available, public transportation for the strictest of budgets.  Taxi ride if comfort outweighs.

4 or moreRideshare service (Uber or Lyft) or taxi ride.

Getting Around While Sightseeing

        Although we recommended in the last section that travelers use rideshare services or taxis in certain situations to get from the airport to the city center, once a traveler has arrived in his or her desired area, rideshare services or taxis become prohibitively expensive when compared with public transportation options.  

        For most cities the world over, public transportation from the airport to the an area of high interest costs somewhere between $5 and $20 per person.  However, once a person reaches the city center, for instance, local public transportation becomes far less expensive. A one way ticket for the subway in Madrid can cost as little as $1.70.  In Beijing a local one way bus ticket costs thirty cents. If you plan on spending several days in the same city, it may be beneficial to purchase weekly pass for local transportation. Almost all major cities have this as an option, and the savings will pile up if you take just three or four trips on public transportation per day.  

        Of course if your hotel is already close to a number of tourist attractions, you can avail yourself of the cheapest form of transportation in the world:  Walking.

Saving Money on Food

        If you insist on eating at a sit-down restaurant for every single meal, your trip is going to become expensive in a hurry.  If you’re a little open minded about where you eat, you can save hundreds of dollars on your trip.

Tip #1:  Try a bakery.

        Bakeries in the United States and abroad often have inexpensive, filling items such as meat or cheese croissants, empanadas, veggie pies, sandwiches, and other items that can easily constitute a meal for the budget-conscious traveler.  For instance, we have found fairly substantial sandwiches as cheap as $1.15 in Greece and meat or cheese croissants in America for about $3 or $4.

Tip #2:  Breakfast Included

        Book a hotel that has breakfast included for no additional cost.  Many hotels around the planet include breakfast in the cost of your stay.  Some hotels charge extra (in some cases A LOT extra) for this service. Seek out the ones which don’t charge extra, and read verified reviews specifically about the breakfast to get a sense of the quality and variety of the breakfast.  Or just contact the hotel directly to find out what they serve. Do they serve hot items? Fruits and vegetables? Yogurt? Fruit juice?

Tip #3:  Supermarkets to the rescue!

        The very best place to find low-cost food items is the local supermarket.  In Rome, for example, we’ve enjoyed a supermarket-bought lunch of prosciutto, sliced cheese, and a soda, for about four bucks.   A large bottled water can cost as little as fifty cents, a baguette can cost as little as one dollar, and an apple can cost as little as fifteen cents.  

Tip #4:  Don’t eat at or near the major tourist attractions

        Having dinner at an upscale restaurant right next to Trafalgar Square in London every night is going to put a serious dent in your travel budget.  The rule of thumb is the farther away you go from touristy areas, the less expensive the restaurants will be.

Tip #5:  Aperitivo Hour

        In many restaurants in Europe, the United States, and other places, you can get free food for the cost of a glass of beer or wine during what Americans would call “Happy Hour.”  In Italy, the different foods that are dished up for free during this time frame are collectively called “aperitivi.” For as little as three or four euros, a person can have access to a wide variety of free foods, ranging from simple items such as olives, nuts, and chips to more extravagant options such as pizza, salamis, cheeses, and pastries.  American cities such as New York and Los Angeles have a few restaurants (and a handful of hotels) which offer these arrays of free food as well, although they’re not as common as they are in Italy.

Finding Free Tourist Attractions

        Did you know that there are some incredible attractions across the globe which incur no entry fee?  We don’t have time to list all of them, but we made a top ten list of our favorites, in no particular order:

  1. Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
  2. St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy
  3. The Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China
  4. *Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
  5. The Smithsonian, Washington DC, USA
  6. The Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy
  7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA
  8. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, USA
  9. Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
  10. Jokulsarlon, Iceland

(*Notre Dame is closed indefinitely due to fire damage)

        The truth is that in every place you visit, you can always find something to do that’s interesting and free of charge.  On every tour you take with Blue Onyx Travel, your Tour Leader will more than happy to point out free attractions to you.

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