The more you can learn about your intended destination in every facet, the better equipped you’ll be to avoid undue cost. For example, when my girlfriend and I went to Scotland, we learned about things in advance such as “banking holidays” (when most businesses are closed, including banks), whether to use Uber or public transit between various points, restaurants that suited our dietary requirements in the area of places we already intended to be, and loads of price comparison of Airbnbs, travel packages and more. All of this preparation gave us a lot of information that saved us time, energy, and of course, money once we were on the ground, enjoying our vacation.
Does everyone have the time to do this kind of research extensively? No, and we didn’t do as much as we could have. But every little bit helps. So, I’d strongly recommend doing as much as research as possible before you arrive.
Talking to people made me and my girlfriend $675 on vacation. How’d that happen? Our flight out of Dublin to NYC got cancelled due to technical difficulties. Turns out, Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 is a regulation in EU law that gives you a refund of 600 euros in the event that your flight is cancelled. (There are some exceptions and conditions.) But, after a lot of back and forth with our air provider, my girlfriend and I each got a check for $675 in the mail. That was a little something to make up for the vacation time we lost being delayed for two days in Dublin (but that’s another story).
We wouldn’t have known about this from the air provider, of course. The only way we learned about this was by talking to other passengers from our cancelled flight. Point is, the more connections you can form with locals, other travelers, any real person you can meet in the process leading up to, during, or even returning from your travels – do it! It can pay off financially and in many other ways.
Ever see a couple out to dinner at a nice restaurant and they just look miserable? It’s a sad sight, and it’s how you might look if you get caught up in your misery about a travel plan that isn’t what you hoped. Just being out there traveling is a blessing. Even being in an airport can be a lot of fun if you let it. The truth is, travel plans go awry all the time. Just embrace it. Build as much structure and certainty as you can around the must-do’s of your trip, the things you really would feel sad if you couldn’t do, and allow serendipity into the less essential areas.
Being open-minded can save you money before you even start traveling. Maybe you’re full of FOMO about seeing someone on Instagram living it up in Miami, and you can’t afford the kind of trip they seem to be having. But what do you really want? To compete with them? Or would you be happy with a beach and a drink in your hand? In which case, why not just go to a nearby body of water on a warm weekend? Are you specifically thirsting for some fancy Miami-style cocktail? Find a day trip location that has a bar with cocktails near a beach. Right away, by focusing on what you actually want out of your own travel experience, you’ll find something you can more likely afford, as opposed to trying to compete with someone else’s image of successful travel.
(he/his/him) Austin Retlaff is a graphic designer, writer, video editor and multi-disciplinary artist living and working in upstate New York. Throughout his art practice he explores storytelling, communication, novel approaches to media and technique, and being original within a marketable context. Austin is passionate about storytelling to create unity, impactful moments, and clarity around meaningful subjects.