So you have booked your flight and hotel, and scored a great deal on both. You are over the moon, telling everyone you see, posting it all over your social media profiles, and counting down the days until your trip. But just because you got a great deal on your flight and hotel, does not mean that your money saving should end there. Before you leave for your trip, you should spend some time browsing the internet for things to do, things to see, and for travel advice from others who have been there before. In this entry I will cover some things that you should research before you leave for your trip.
Renting a car in large cities such as New York, Toronto, Berlin, etc., will not only be a waste of money, but a waste of your time as well. Traffic jams can happen, and if you are short on time, there is nothing worse than being stuck in a car. Parking in large cities (I can speak especially for Toronto) can be very expensive. Especially when there is some large event happening in the downtown core like a concert, sporting event, exhibit, or festival. Also, if you are staying in the city you are flying to, you can also save money by taking public transportation instead of a taxi. For example, when I went to Los Angeles, I paid $1 to get from LAX Airport to my hotel in Santa Monica. $1. A taxi would have cost probably $40, if not more. Before you leave, map out your route from the airport, train station, or bus station to your hotel. Be sure to know where to get off as well, because there is nothing more frustrating than getting lost with luggage in tow.
Know Where Your Hotel Is
If you are going to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, be warned. There is nothing more that taxi drivers love more than tourists. Unless there is a flat rate from the airport to your hotel (like in NYC), your taxi driver might take you on a longer route just to make some extra cash. And don’t be silly and think that this won’t happen. By knowing where you are going, you could save yourself some time and money by directing the taxi driver where to go (if you have GPS on your smartphone even better).
If you are driving to the hotel with your own car, be sure to know where your hotel is located so you don’t get lost. Pretty simple stuff.
What Restaurants Are Close By
Just like taxi drivers, restaurants also love tourists because they can charge them ridiculous prices for food that is not even worth the money. Before you go, find out where the locals eat. Most likely they will not be eating at overpriced restaurants. Also, you will get the authentic feel of the place you are in. By doing your research in advance, you can also see prices or daily specials that restaurants have to offer.
Are There Any Grocery Stores or Markets Close By
When traveling to large cities, one thing that I always miss, regardless of how long I stay, is eating some fresh fruit. Most restaurants will overcharge you for fruit that you order. This is why it is the best to find out if there are any grocery stores or markets close by, and when they are open. Sometimes you might just want to have something to snack on while you are at your hotel room or walking around. And paying the prices that convenience stores charge can be overkill. When looking for a hotel, keep the distance to a grocery store in mind. You never know when it could come in handy.
Know Where the Locals Go
Like I mentioned before, try to find out where the locals like to go in their spare time. If you are looking for a night out on the town, figure out what bars, clubs or lounges locals like to go to. These are usually a lot more fun and way cheaper than the places that are big tourist traps. If you want to know what the locals like to do during the day for fun, you can spend some time looking through some blogs written by locals. With thousands of them on the internet, you are bound to find one that appeals to you.
Look at the Travel Advisory for Your Destination
One of my favourite websites is the Government of Canada’s Travel Advisory site. Countries are listed in alphabetical order, and information for each country is updated frequently. I enjoy looking at this site before I travel to a place (and even for fun), just to be aware of any scams, potential threats, and other advisories that the Government of Canada has to issue. Educating yourself on the country you are traveling to can save you and your loved ones lots of money should you fall victim to any of the scams (just take a look at the scams that happen in Mexico). This website will also inform you of any vaccines or medications you should take prior to traveling.
Moral of the story is to plan ahead. Don’t be lazy. Also, be a smart traveler. If you are going to a country or city that has lots of crime, don’t flaunt your money and other valuables around. Try to blend in as much as you can. And have fun!
Happy Travels Everyone!