If you’re broke and traveling it can be hard to decide where you want to spend your precious few dollars. You don’t want to feel like you’re missing out, do you? Well, here are ten luxury travel experiences which you can typically give a miss without feeling guilty.
1. Boat tours
They’re always a bit lame. Take a paddleboat or canoe out on the water instead. They’re usually cheaper and can be way more entertaining since you’ve got the freedom to go where you want.
2. Bus tours
The worst tour I’ve ever taken was an electric bus tour of West Lake in Hanoi; don’t do it. The best tour I’ve ever had was a free walking tour in Hungary. Walking tours for the win. Bus tours are often over-priced and don’t give near as much information as the free city walking tours offered by locals in most big cities. If you are planning on spending money on a tour, then I recommend spending it on a food tour, which are even better (although more expensive) than regular walking tours.
I’ve been to a lot of museums over the years, but mostly, they’re not that interesting and there are only a few that I would have regretted missing, like Schindler’s factory in Krakow. Save your money for those few really great ones. If you absolutely must go to a museum, look online for some freebies, such as the Black Sausage Factory Museum in Tainan or the National Gallery in London. There typically just as good as the ones you have to pay for.
Blowing your budget on a night you won’t remember will feel stupid in the morning. I love checking out the nightlife in a new city, but I hate it when I go overboard, so I try to limit myself to a few drinks to save my head and my wallet from pain the next day. Drunk me isn’t nearly as careful with her money, so she’s only allowed out on the town every now and then.
5. Tower and restaurant views
Most towns have an awesome park, mountain, or shopping center nearby. Get your free views there. Rarely is it worth paying for a view.
Don’t be nervous about taking public transportation instead of taxis. It’s typically much cheaper. Google Maps is amazing nowadays and you can use the public transport feature on the app to find out how to use just about any bus, subway, or train system in the world. If you are going to shell out the cash for private transport, don’t go for a taxi. Rent a car or scooter instead. Having your own vehicle is convenient and worth the extra money if autonomy is what you’re after.
7. Expensive restaurants
If you’re tempted to eat at a pricey place to try a local specialty, think twice. Sometimes it’s worth it, but more often street food and grocery stores are the real answer. Smazeny syr (fried cheese) is 100 Czech crowns or more at a restaurant in Prague, but 50 crowns on the street. Grocery store food is usually cheaper too and you can often buy regional specialties for a fraction of the price inside the local market, supermarket, or convenience store. Worried about losing out on “the local experience?” Don’t be. All the locals will be shopping right along side you, just look at what they put in their cart for guidance.
You probably don’t really need that glass turtle figurine for that one sort-of-close friend back home or twenty postcards which you’re never going to send. Spend your money elsewhere.
9. Private Resorts
Okay, I should clarify that some private resorts are amazing and totally worth shelling out the cash if you want a luxury experience. But many are a bit of a waste. Do you really want to be limited to expensive resort dining and isolated beaches? Case in point, I checked out a few resort beaches in Koh Samet and was unimpressed. There were equally beautiful beaches down the road with glorious local food, plenty of sand and surf, interesting people, and no hefty price tag. To me the resorts just weren’t worth it.
Why pay money when beaches like this are free?
10. Tour groups
The only time tour groups are worth it is if they offer experiences that are more difficult to access on your own, like a tour of Ha Long Bay where a group tour can offer kayaking, squid-fishing, and day-trips that would be difficult to organize by yourself.
If you’re seeing a museum or historical site though, it’s usually more worth-while to do it on your own for peace and quiet, independence, and a cheaper price tag. Any historical information that you want is usually available on plaques or through listening devices without the huge crowd of noisy tourists blocking every sight from view.
Do you have any other suggestions for luxury experiences that aren’t worth the cash? Or have you spent money on any of these 10 activities and felt they were worth it? Let me know in the comments!