Busting budget travel myths

Everyone loves budget travel tips, but there are a few that are incorrect and a few that are outright lies created to benefit certain travel businesses (think big corporate interests).

Why give your money away to a big hotel chain or car rental company by believing in these? So today, we’re busting five common budget travel myths.

It’s cheaper to rent a car
False. The price of fuel and car hire make car hire quite expensive. Ride-sharing services, low-cost taxis and cheap and effective public transport in many countries (other than Australia) mean it’s often much cheaper to let someone else do the driving for you.

Stay outside the city
Don’t. The money you’ll save on cheaper accommodation will be quickly spent on cabs and transport back and forth from your room to all the fun in town. Plus, think about all the time you’ll waste in transit. Do the maths. Accommodation in places such as San Francisco and London can be quite expensive, but you can still find good places close by, without having to stay too far out in the ‘burbs. Try an app called SnapTravel for good savings and exclusive rates on hotels in big cities. Airbnb is also another good option.

Buy foreign currency before you leave
Don’t. Sure, you’ll need a little bit before you go but leave the large sums for when you arrive at your destination. And don’t waste money buying it from a foreign currency bureau – withdraw a decent amount from an ATM. You’ll pay a transaction fee, but you won’t be stung by hidden fees and service costs. Your bank or credit card may also be free from foreign transaction fees, so if you don’t need cash, use your card instead.

Booking early
Hotels: maybe. Flights: no. Booking your flights early won’t save you much money. In fact, airlines usually start with high prices and whittle them down closer to departure dates. The best time to book flights is around six or seven weeks before you’re leaving.

Booking a hotel at the last minute depends largely on where you’re going. The bigger the city, the more likely you are to find a cheap room, while smaller locales will be less likely to have the availability, so you are better off booking early.

Tours aren’t worth the cost
When you look at tour prices they often seem expensive. But when you break them down, you’re most likely getting a great deal.

Look for tours that include flights, transfers and accommodation, then count the cost of meals, a guide, access (often VIP access) to attractions and you’ll be hard pressed to do all this for a lower price. My tip: tours are great for countries with limited English and access and if you can find tours that give you both you should book them. The afternoons, evenings or entire days are yours to explore at your leisure, give them a try.

Do you know of any budget travel myths that need busting?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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