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50 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Travel Dollars


IN FRANCE KNOW YOUR WATERS OR PAY THE PRICE -- Understand how to order what you want. If it's plain tap water you're after, ask for a 'carafe d'eau'. If you just ask for water, you will receive, and pay for, bottled water.


FIND A LESS EXPENSIVE RESTAURANT AND BECOME A REGULAR -- My daughter and I found an inexpensive, popular restaurant called Café Med, in Paris, France. It's located at 77 Rue St. Louis-en-Llle, in the 4th, near Notre Dame Cathedral. It has about 12 tables, and each time we go there, it's the same lady serving everyone. For 13 euros or 19 euros, you can get a three course meal consisting of salad, main course and then dessert. The food is excellent and the ambiance is restive and interesting after a day of touring. Alas, the price does not include wine, but you can order it separately. If you eat earlier and miss the busier times of the evening the wait to get inside is not too long. We are going to Paris again this September and I can hardly wait to eat at this café again! (Suzanne, Kelowna, BC, Canada)


BUY AN INSULATED BACKPACK -- I use an insulated cooler backpack as a carry-on. When I arrive at my destination it's perfect to carry fruit, sandwiches, and cold drinks on my day trips. I also bring my insulated commuter cup which I fill with coffee on my way out of the hotel or sometimes I just fill it with ice for ice water until my next stop. Target sells an insulated backpack that's just the right size for women travellers. (Linda, Columbus, USA)


I USED THE BAZ BUS -- I travelled through South Africa from Johannesburg to Cape town over the course of six weeks and used the Baz Bus. It was a safe way for a middle aged woman to travel cheaply staying in back packer places along the way. I was dropped off and picked up by the bus at the places that I had chosen. Many of the hostels had private rooms and travelling out of season afforded me a private room at a reasonable price. Website:


AVOID COMMISSIONS ON THEATRE TICKETS -- If possible don't buy your tickets from agencies that make their money from commissions. Go directly to the theatre and make your purchase from the box office. Feeling lucky? Stand in line for reduced rush tickets that go on sale just before the performance. If you get them that's excellent. If not so what? There's a whole big city to explore. (Evelyn, Toronto, Canada)


HOSPITAL CAFETERIAS -- Hospital cafeterias sell well-priced food that is prepared in a clean environment and they generally adhere to the rules of 'the essential food groups'. They are usually on a bus or tram line so are easy and economical to get to if you have a bus pass.


CREATE YOUR OWN WALKING TOURS -- Before I travel I do extensive online research. I keep a small book about hotel suggestions, places to eat, etc. But the main thing I keep track of is what there is to see. I look for walking tours on line and then I print them. Many times I find information on churches, monuments, and special areas of the city I want to see. I bought a recorder for my iPod and that allows me to record my own walking tours into it I get to see what I want to see, not what others want me to see. Instead of spending money on walking tours I have my very own on my I-Pod. London has great free walking tours to download which I've used several times. When I went to Germany, I found a lot of information and read it into my iPod. It is a really great way to explore on a budget. (Donna Horvath)


SOME OF MY BEST MEALS WERE NOT IN RESTAURANTS -- Not every meal out has to be a dine-in experience. Instead of white table cloths and high price menus, I have fond memories of eating a smoked salmon sandwich at dusk on the steps of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and a lovely al fresco lunch of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and bread on a bench in the port of Positano. In a Santorini bakery I bought a scrumptious spanakopita big enough for two that was consumed on our terrace. Be creative and stretch your travel budget. (Debra, Toronto, Canada)


IS THE MENU IN ENGLISH? -- In non-English speaking countries be aware that if the restaurant menu is also in English, it's probably a tourist spot and you will generally pay more. (Rette, Boston, USA)


FREE MUSEUM DAYS -- Do your research. Some museums are free all the time, some the last hour of the day and still others on certain evenings. As entrance fees can be quite high in some countries, I like to make use of these museum 'free days.' I find out about them on the internet and by picking up free tourist information at local tourism booths. (Rhonda, Victoria, Canada)


Bonus! Improve your bargaining skills...

Chinese numbersTo begin, even though a fair amount of English is spoken in the big cities, not knowing the Chinese words for numbers and prices will cost you a lot of extra money. Before you leave home, learn your numbers in Chinese. When I go to the market, I try to listen carefully to the vendor’s first price. Then I counter with, “ Too expensive for me.” Then the seller will say something like "You say" which means...make me an offer. I, then, compliment the article again, say it is much too expensive and begin walking away. The Chinese bargaining system has now begun.

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