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50 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Travel Dollars


NETWORKING CAN SAVE YOU DOLLARS -- Seek out folks in your city who were born and raised where you plan to visit. They often 'go home' to visit and are experts on how to get the best airfares. They also have contacts who can suggest small, safe places to stay that aren't always listed in guidebooks.


QUIRKY GIFTS FROM THRIFT SHOPS -- Why spend more money for cute momentos in souvenir shops when you can have the real thing for less? Check out the local thrift shops in the cities you are visiting. Look for something quirky and original. I still treasure a serving spoon purchased in a small shop in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Evelyn, Toronto, Canada)


CONSIDER A HOME EXCHANGE -- The best way to save money is to avoid hotels. My solution? I swap my home using the websites Homelink and Intervac. I've exchanged homes with people in England (many times), Belgium, Portugal, USA, and Australia and love the experience. Meeting the neighbours and relatives; shopping in the local grocery stores; using public transportation; and living like a local is the best way to experience a country. With no hotel bills and cooking some of your meals, you can afford to travel more often. P.S. If I cannot find a home exchange, I rent an apartment and save money on meals. (Margot in Halifax, NS)


CARRY A PACKAGE OF BLANK CARDS FROM THE DOLLAR STORE -- I like to be prepared. When you travel there are so many situations when a thank you note is both important and pleasing. Or, you meet someone who has a birthday that day and you want to surprise them with your good wishes. Greeting cards are expensive. A pack of ten cards for $1.00 from the dollar store back home are not.


LOOK FOR PUBLIC LIBRARIES -- They are a great place for catching up on newspapers, looking through guidebooks, some allow complimentary use of their computers with internet connection and I'm always amazed at the quality of their Speakers Programs and the films that are absolutely free. Excellent example is the Women's Library in London.


PACKAGE YOUR OWN TREATS -- Before you leave, buy almonds, raisins and other dried fruits. In a bowl combine these with thin, non-salted pretzels. Fill snack size plastic bags with this mixture and you have treats to pop into your backpack when you're on the road.


BRING YOUR BREAKFAST FROM HOME -- I pack instant oatmeal packages and use the in-room coffee maker to make hot water. Put the oatmeal in a coffee cup, pour and stir. Voila, instant breakfast for less than 50 cents. (Tracy, Fredericton, Canada)


SOME GIFT IDEAS THAT DON'T BREAK THE BANK -- I'm a single mom who travels with her five year old son. To avoid buying too much I try to save my shopping for the end of the trip. I make most of my purchases at flea markets. Sometimes grocery stores have really neat things that you can't find at home. In Poland my son bought "polish' bubble gum, a bookmark and some chocolates. Coins and currency make cool gifts (I use left over currency that we didn't spend). Postcards are often cheap and buying a few gives us nice memories. I take many photos of us and the things we love. They make beautiful gifts in an album or picture frame or on a compilation CD. (Christine, Corinth, Texas, USA)


DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK -- If your hotel room doesn’t come with a fridge, ask the hotel if they can supply one at no extra charge. Then keep breakfast items and snacks like yogourt, milk and fruits. Also comes in handy for storing leftovers like that half wrap you couldn’t finish but might want later or tomorrow for breakfast. Ditto for a kettle. (Debra, Toronto, Canada)


STORE BRANDS IN GROCERY STORES ARE ALWAYS CHEAPER -- Looking for smart, inexpensive gifts to bring home? Buy store brand cookies and teas in foreign grocery stores. They look ordinary there but take them home and their packaging becomes unique. These goodies are now imported and they make wonderfully posh presents for pals.


Women's words on travel and money...

'There are few certainties when you travel. One of them is that the moment
you arrive in a foreign country your country's dollar will fall like a stone.'
(Erma Bombeck, 1991)

When travelling abroad if you see something you yearn for
if you can afford it at all, buy it. If you don't you'll regret it all your life.
(Ilka Chase, 1965)

'I think that to get under the surface and really appreciate the beauty of a country,
one has to go there poor.'
(Grace Moore, 1944)

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