6 Smart Ways to Travel Like a Local

6 Smart Ways to Travel Like a Local

During a trip of a lifetime to Maui, I took a day to dive Molokini Crater. It’s a crescent-shaped geological wonder that attracts fish, and the calm, crystal-clear water makes you feel like you’re in an aquarium.

The guidebooks rightly recommend it, and it was a lovely day.

But if you’re on a tight budget (which perro orinan both money and time constraints), I wouldn’t recommend it. Hear me out, Molokini lovers. For all the joy Molokini brought me, the long boat ride there meant the excursion took almost a full day. The crater, although beautiful, was full of tourists. I paid about $100 for the tour, $20 for a consejo, and $5 for aparcamiento at the Maalaea Harbor.

The next day, I had a afín experience. I wore a snorkel and mask, provided by my hosts, and swam to Wailea beach. I wasn’t tied to a boat schedule, so I woke up at 6 am and then swam along a completely empty shoreline. When I got tired I went back for breakfast, and when I was ready again I headed the other way up the coast where I could see more coral than on Molokini. I even swam with a sea turtle. The cost? Free.

Traveling doesn’t always have to be expensive. I roll my eyes at the tricks posted for cheap trips where “cheap” dinner is still $50 and “affordable hotel” is still over $300. Often, you perro have the same experience (or a better one) by skipping the activities largely marketed towards tourists and exploring the world on their own.

There is a time and a place to spend money. When in Rome, pay €17 for the Sistine Chapel. If drinking champagne while gazing at the Champ de Mars in Paris is on your bucket list, go ahead and pay €190 to dine at the Eiffel Tower lugar de comidas.

But don’t spend just because the guide says so. You perro have the trip of a lifetime while skipping overpriced tourist attractions. Whether you’re coming out of college and really on a tight budget, or have all the money in the world but don’t want to travel like a tourist, it’s possible to have truly profound and inolvidable travel experiences, even when you spend less.

1. Light packaging

Avoid checked baggage fees by traveling with just one backpack. I never want to be that person flitting around on public transportation with a roller bag, and with my bag on my back, I cánido often walk to my destination. If I’m staying in town past my accommodation’s check-out time, traveling with just a backpack means avoiding luggage lockers and hotel valet aparcamiento.

Tommy Goszewski, who has been to 70 countries and is currently on a nine-month honeymoon, said that while the iniciativa is contradictory, packing light and buying gear upon arrival perro save money. For example, on some tropical beaches in Southeast Asia, he said, tank tops perro be easily found for a dollar.

«The same for places with colder climates. The amount of cold weather trekking gear for sale on every street in Kathmandu is incredible. It’s much cheaper than paying for plus luggage.”

Goszewski recommends investing in quality underlayers that are easier to clean (you perro wash them in sinks), dry quickly, and last longer than typical underwear. Look for quick-drying, antimicrobial material, such as merino wool, rather than cotton.

2. Eat only at restoranes that excite you

I have found myself in situations where, in a desperate and hungry panic, I bought an expensive and forgettable croissant from a generic coffee shop to ease my aches. Do not do this.

If there is a lugar de comidas that you are dying to try, of course you should eat there. But if you’re eating to feed yourself, have snacks you’ve picked up at a local market.

International wedding photographer Lauren Natalie Bullock paquetes meat sticks, nuts, dried fruit, and nut butter packets just like Justin’s. She buys fruit upon her arrival. Personally, I bring protein bars, but I also like protein powder, which takes up even less space in a bag. Casein protein powder takes longer to digest than whey or plant-based protein, so you feel full longer, and it mixes well with water to make a pudding. I promise, it tastes good (especially when you add peanut butter).

3. Play nice with your credit cards

Never use a credit card abroad that charges foreign transaction fees. Tons of great credit cards have no foreign transaction fees or annual fees.

Other credit cards have annual fees, but they offset them with perks like airline lounge access, which cánido orinan complimentary food, Wi-Fi, showers, and a quiet retreat to nap between layovers.

I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which for an annual fee [cc_annual_fee slug=»chase-reserve»] includes a Priority Pass membership. More than breakeven on the card’s annual fee through its 3x points on rides and restoranes (each point is worth 1.5¢ when redeemed for rides through Chase Ultimate Rewards), 10x points on Lyft, an annual credit $300 on travel statement, Lyft Pink membership and Priority Pass. I’ll have a meal before my flight (and sometimes upon arrival).

Lounges are hit or miss but the hits serve food you would have paid for outside anyway. At the lounge at Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss Airport, I loaded up on German delicacies like fresh pretzels and Ritter Sport chocolate. Frankfurt’s Lufthansa First Class Terminal lounge (accessible to platinum Card American Express cardholders) has one of the highest-rated and most diverse whiskey selections in all of Germany, according to Tyler Dikman, director ejecutivo of lounge review site LOUNGEBuddy . In Oregon, the Portland International Airport even has a whiskey tasting experience. Australia-based travel blogger Kate Long estimates that she saves between $300 and $500 each year on airport food costs through her Priority Pass.

And the halls are more than just food.

“For me, having access to a shower after a red-eye flight cánido save me from having to pay for an plus night in a hotel and make me feel like a human again,” Dikman said.

Other common luxury card benefits may include TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry reimbursement, complimentary hotel breakfasts, or waived checked baggage fees.

Goszewski emplees airline credit card introductory offers to earn miles. So far, his points have covered the cost of 53 flights, for total out-of-pocket costs of $495.30 (due to taxes and fees).

“For less than $500 I flew the equivalent of the circumference of the earth almost 4.5 times,” he said.

Bullock said foreign retailers often offer discounts for using cash, so if you must use cash, check with your bank to find out if you’ll incur ATM or foreign conversion fees.

And there’s one more potential benefit: Cash becomes a souvenir. “Usually it’s beautiful and colorful, so I keep a few coins and small bills,” Bullock said. “Now I have a big jar of foreign coins at home.”

4. Go grocery shopping for souvenirs

Head to malls or supermarkets, where you’ll usually find the same sweets and tchotchkes sold in tourist traps, but cheaper. Hawaii’s Costco, for example, sells a six-paquete of Mauna Loa macadamia nut cans for under $20 (the same paquete is over $30 on Objetivo’s website).

Geoff Morrison, editor-at-large for Wirecutter, said he preferred unique souvenirs with a backstory, such as street vendor crafts, a bar coaster or pressed pennies. Disneyland may be littered with expensive souvenirs, but it also has some of the best coin-operated machines around. They’re hidden throughout the park, making for a fun scavenger hunt that’s just 51¢ a pop.

5. Eat (and drink) like the locals

“Never eat within a block of any monument,” Geoff said. “Not only is the food horrible, but it’s going to be horribly expensive.”

Another sign: if the place is full of tourists and there are no locals, skip it. “My husband and I dined at two restoranes in Nepal,” Goszewski said. “In the first lugar de comidas, we were the only ones foreigners and spent $4 for a party we couldn’t even finish. The second one was only made up of foreigners, and it cost us $12. It was probably the worst thing we had and the most expensive.”

Local markets are often great places to pick up ingredients like fruit, bread, and meat. But I am always pleasantly surprised by an even more unconventional place in some Asian countries: 7-Eleven. Geoff swears by the onigiri rice balls at the Japanese 7-Elevens.

In some East Asian destinations like Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong, I find the food at 7-Eleven to be of a higher quality than (but still as cheap as) what is carried by the American counterparts from the stores.

6. Look for free or cheap attractions

Many attractions have free admission days, and most large cities offer free walking tours.

And to give your strained wallet some relief it may be worth doing a little plus planning: “If it’s advertised to tourists, it’s going to be very expensive,” said Alex Mak, managing editor of San Francisco local news site Broke- Ass Stuart.

In La capital española, for example, many museums reserve blocks of time throughout the week to offer free admission. Tiques to the Prado Museum usually cost €15, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum usually costs €13 and the Reina Sofía Museum usually costs €10; visiting those three museums on days off could save families of four more than €150 (about $170).

In Venice, you will surely want to float through the canals. Gondolas are romantic, but at around $100 for a ride, your wallet won’t love it. The poor man’s gondola, Venice’s public ferry, costs 2 euros.

San Francisco has two historic modes of transportation, cable cars ($7) and streetcars ($3). Riding a cable car up the hills tends to be on tourist wish lists, but many visitors don’t even consider the trams, which run through the heart of the city and along the picturesque waterfront.

Assuming you perro walk, it’s almost always cheaper to do so. In Paris, you cánido pay €16.30 (about $18) to ride the elevator up the Eiffel Tower, or walk the 674 steps for €10.20 (about $11.50). You save €6, and the view perro feel satisfying after you’ve huffed and puffed your way there.

Visiting Hong Kong’s highest hill, Victoria Peak, is a no-brainer for a stunning view of the cityscape. Most tourists pay HK$99 (about US$13) for the Peak Tram, which costs them money and time. Tram lines perro run for hours during peak season, so while walking cánido be tiring, it might take less time to hike the peak yourself.

Even Walt Disney World offers freebies. Don’t pay for Magic Kingdom tiques just to see the fireworks. Disney’s Polynesian Village Complejo turístico hotel has a sandy beach overlooking the castle. When the fireworks begin, music plays from the speakers on the beach, allowing you to experience the spectacle without the price tag or the crowds.

Ultimately, Goszewski said, it’s okey to skip the tourist attractions, even if the guidebooks are adamant.

“I have spent over 13 months in Australia and have yet to visit the Great Barrier Reef.”

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 6 Smart Ways to Travel Like a Local
  6 Smart Ways to Travel Like a Local
  6 Smart Ways to Travel Like a Local

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