Summer travel season is almost here but if your tax refund was a lot smaller or, in my case, non-existent this year, you're probably watching every penny. You don't have to skip the vacation entirely as long as you use some of these tricks of the frugal traveler:
1. Sign up for an airfare tracker - Google flight alerts and other services will notify you when prices go down.
2. Look for an apartment instead of a hotel room - Rooms on Airbnb and other sites are often cheaper and usually have kitchens so you can eat in and save money.
3. Get a local SIM card to use your phone abroad - It’s likely much cheaper than getting an international plan from your U.S. provider.
4. Buy bus and train passes - If you’re going to rely on public transportation, a week-long pass is often cheaper than individual trips. Otherwise, walk as much as you can.
5. Find restaurants near colleges and universities - In big cities, restaurants in college or university areas tend to be more budget-friendly.
6. Ask the locals where they eat - Most locals know the best spots, which are likely to be less crowded and usually less expensive.
7. Explore street food - Cheap and tasty, the "food of the people" can help you really get to know a country.
8. Hit the grocery store - Load up on water and snacks so you aren’t paying astronomical prices near tourist attractions. Use your savings to splurge on a nice restaurant.
9. Plan museum visits and tours strategically - Check to see if any museums have free nights or pay-as-you-wish nights to save a few bucks. You might even be able to find free walking tours in the cities you're visiting.
10. Use free podcasts to guide you through museums - Why pay extra for an audio or guided tour if you don't have to?
11. Choose your credit card wisely - If you're using credit cards while traveling, avoid any that have international transaction fees. They're usually around 3% and can really add up. Opt for a card that doesn't charge a fee but does offer some travel rewards.