After taxes, rent, utilities and credit card bills are deducted from our paychecks, we need a magnifying glass to see the money left in our bank accounts.
But that doesn’t stop us from living our lives to the fullest. Our bank accounts aren’t as important to us as the experiences we have.
We’re willing to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for an entire month if that means going on a trip we know we’ll remember for a lifetime. But there are good and bad ways to spend money while on that trip.
There are things you can do to save up and make sure, when you get the itch of wanderlust in a few months, you have enough funds for your next adventure.
While planning your next vacation…
DON’T: Spend your money on a nice hotel.
DO: Spend your money on a house or apartment rental.
When you were a kid, your parents would spend $200 a night on a hotel, where the greatest offering was a continental breakfast – and that didn’t make up for the uncomfortable, unsightly bedspreads.
We’ve learned from their mistakes.
For the same price or less, you can rent out an entire apartment or home. There may not be a continental breakfast, but there are better amenities, like a kitchen, if you’re trying to save money on dining out.
Hosts also offer recommendation guides with the best local spots to eat well for less.
DON’T: Buy a first-class airplane ticket.
DO: Buy seats with extra legroom.
Eventually, when your bank account catches up to your expensive taste, first class will be an appropriate option. Until then, you can slum it in economy without champagne or a flat bed.
Spending $30 to $50 on extra leg room, however, will always be worth it. It’s a small price to pay for being able to stretch your legs AND store your bag under the seat in front of you.
While packing for your next vacation…
DO: Buy yourself a functional, waterproof jacket.
DON’T: Buy more pants or sweaters.
The last thing you want to do on your trip is carry a clunky umbrella everywhere you go, or get stuck in an unexpected storm. A waterproof jacket – preferably with a hood – will do right by you in all scenarios. It’s worth the investment.
New pants and sweaters, on the other hand, are not.
I used to pack my suitcase with multiple pairs of pants and sweaters in every style and color. The more I traveled, however, the more I realized I wore the same two pairs of jeans and the same neutral sweater every day. Now, I pack those staple items and leave the rest at home.
DO: Buy travel-sized, reusable toiletry bottles.
DON’T: Buy travel-sized shampoo and conditioner.
Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner are a waste of money, especially when most accommodations offer free toiletries.
Buy yourself some 99-cent reusable toiletry bottles, and fill them up from the shampoo and conditioner currently in your bathroom. You’ll feel a lot better about using the free stuff in your hotel or rental, and less inclined to steal it when you depart.
While waiting in the airport…
DO: Buy a new book.
DON’T: Buy tons of magazines.
It might seem cheaper to buy magazines for a flight, but unless you have a very short ride, you’ll need a few to keep you busy.
The necessary number of magazines needed to fill your time might be the equivalent to buying a new book that will occupy your flight there and your return home.
DO: Buy bottled water.
DON’T: Buy meals from airport restaurants.
You can’t bring bottled water through security, so that’s a must-buy before your flight. But, TSA will let you bring through food. Don’t waste your money on an airport restaurant; they’re never good enough to warrant it.
DON’T: Spend money on cabs.
DO: Spend money on the public transit system.
When you don’t know where you’re going, cabs are a major temptation – one that your bank account will regret later.
Buy a weekend or week-long pass for the local transit system when you’re traveling. Chances are, all the major landmarks you want to see will be easily accessible along the same lines. You’ll learn the system in no time.
Of course, use your judgment if you’re going out at night – that’s the only time a cab may be worth it.
DON’T: Spend money on guided tours of the city.
DO: Spend money on city guide apps.
Be totally honest with yourself: How much do you actually want to hear about the history of every nook and cranny of a landmark?
Guided city and landmark tours are expensive and filled with a lot of knowledge you didn’t need or want. Instead, buy a cost-effective city guide app. You can ignore the information you didn’t really want and get lost on your own time.
DON’T: Spend money on fancy, tourist-trap restaurants.
DO: Spend money on authentic, hole-in-the-wall eateries.
The authentic food of a region is not in the restaurant with high prices and a line out the door. Those are the restaurants that try to hard to capture the local culture and have enough money to advertise.
Hole-in-the-wall eateries are the way to go. They are more efficient on time and money, and a better indicator of what the locals eat.
DON’T: Buy generic souvenirs from gift shops.
DO: Buy local arts and crafts.
City and landmark gift shops are as cheesy as the ones you find in the airport. Why buy the same “I Love Austin” t-shirt everyone else has?
Find the local arts district and grab some mementos there. They'll have a lot more meaning and memory – without the hefty price tag.
Compensation for this post was provided by Discover it® via Elite Daily. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Discover it® or Elite Daily.