After two years full of everchanging travel restrictions, the time has finally come for the world to slowly open up again. Countries around the world are lifting entry requirements and local measures, welcoming intercontinental travelers. We’ve seen this positive news as a sign to start planning new adventures, abroad and even intercontinental! We’re dusting off our backpacks and other travel gear and warming up the travel planning muscles. For us, this always raises the question: how will we make the most of our travel budget? You might recognise this, but your travel budget skills are going to be a bit rusty after all this time, right? That’s why we thought this is a good time to create a series of blogs full of travel budget tips. In this final of three blogs: budget tips for activities!
Activities budget tip 1: Is a photo worth it?
When preparing to visit a new place, the tourist highlights are what come up first. World famous temples, towers and castles can draw in millions of tourists per year. And yes, most of the A-locations are just that for a reason, with unparallelled experiences that you 100% shouldn’t miss. But it’s worth doing a little research into what there is to see in and around the absolute hotspots. Blindly paying top dollar for every tourist highlight and taking the same photo as masses of tourists around you, isn’t always worth it. Be considerate of what you want to see and experience in a specific country or place and choose to skip those that aren’t really worth the cost.
With this consideration, we skipped a visit to the famous largest of all temples in Nara, Japan, the Todai-Ji, as we saw an immense crowd of people just inside the gate taking arguably a worse photo than ours from outside of the gate.
Activities budget tip 2: To guide or not to guide?
Any truly touristy activity is both positively and negatively milked for the local economy. While paying for a guided visit can be enriching in certain places, there are often countless options to spend money on an array of questionable experiences in any top tourist destination. The best thing to do is to read up on other people’s experiences before you go, so you know how you’ll want to visit a specific place.
For example, we’re reading up on how to visit Petra in Jordan this April. Reportedly, there are guides, donkeys, camels and taxis that can take us anywhere and everywhere in and around Petra. After reading a few blogs from people that have visited Petra, we’ve decided that we would most enjoy a visit on our own, reading about the background of the place before we get there. And based on those stories, we’ve also made the judgment that the routes are doable without needing an animal or something similar to carry our stuff. This not only helps us save money, but also makes it easier to know how to turn down any offers we’ll get when we’re there.
Activities budget tip 3: what you pay is not always what you get
In pretty much any imaginable destination, there are free or negligibly cheap activities. Reading up on these experiences, and spending a little time looking for the cheaper alternatives can not save money and often even lead to a more unique experience! Viewpoints and hikes are great examples of this.
Another example from Japan; instead of paying 1,200 yen, about 10 euros, to go up to the viewpoint in Tokyo Tower (the Eifel tower look-a-like that marks Tokyo’s skyline), we opted for a free viewpoint from the top floor of an office building. This meant we saved money, but also meant we got to witness the sun set behind Tokyo Tower, instead of from it!
Activities budget tip 4: discount cards for combined activities
If you’re reading this, it might start to sound like we hate going to top tourist hotspots. The opposite is true! In any new place, we’ll look into the top places to visit and definitely add most to our list of places to see. So if you áre going to visit a lot of A-locations, here’s another tip: many places offer discount cards for combined activities.
Our most recent example of this is the Jordan Pass, which goes even further and adds the country’s visa to the discount list. We’re paying approximately 90 euros for the Jordan Pass, which sounds like a lot, but over half of our planned activities are then free to visit! And with just the visa and a visit to Petra, we will already have saved money.
Activities budget tip 5: not just any day of the week
For those activities you’re adding to your travel plan, you’re going to have to check when they are open, right? While you’re doing this, be sure to check if there are some specific days on which this specific thing is cheaper or even free to do. Restaurant menus might be cheaper on weekdays, for example. In Málaga, we saw that museums were free on Sunday afternoon. If you’re a student, be sure to always bring your student card anywhere you go, as a lot of places have discounted entry or activities for students.
This concludes our three-part blog series full of budget tips for transport, accommodation and activities! It was a ton of fun writing, did you have as much fun reading it? Let us know which is your favorite budget tip out of all the ones we mentioned, and of course add your own!
Kirsten & Thomas