Is your travel bucket list filled with spots like Iceland, Sweden, and Hawaii? While the costs fluctuate due to exchange rates, here are some tips to get the most bang out of your buck in these destinations.
Overall, Italy isn’t as expensive as the rest of Western Europe (unless you’re talking about Portugal). The general rule is that the northern regions – home to Milan and much of the country’s commercial hub – is slightly more costly as it borders Switzerland, Austria, and France. Still, restaurants – from local trattorias to street food or Michelin-starred restaurants – are generally less expensive than New York, London and Paris. Unlike Paris, the rise of Airbnb across the Peninsula has somehow prodded hotels to improve their packages, amenities and rates.
Consider visiting Rome in January and February when sites like the Colosseum and Vatican are less busy and hotel inventory is at highest. The best itinerary is to walk around the city centre, which has the highest concentration of masterpieces and monuments like the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.
Check out a lineup of the city’s free-entry museum system via MuseiinComune, which covers the over 2,800 years of cultural history in Rome. Or pay just 7 euros to the National Museum for entry to 4 ancient sites (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Baths of Diocletian) within 3-days.
Discover more “unknown” (and less expensive) locations, like Sicily. Alitalia constantly has offerte special deals to Palermo and Catania, where the food is very different from the usual Italian cuisines, and the culture is right in front of you on the streets.
While many low cost flights get you there, it’s still an expensive destination thanks to its super busy tourism scene with an infrastructure that’s struggling to catch up (even outside of peak season). Hotels (basic rooms cost $200 or more) and car rentals ($100 per day) face shortages, and prices are high.
Off peak, hotel and rental prices are 20%-30% cheaper. Alcohol in Iceland is expensive – similar to Singapore – which explains why nightlife doesn’t get busy till after midnight. There are happy hour specials you can check via the Reykjavik Grapevine.
If you’re only staying in downtown Reykjavik, the city is compact and walkable (there are buses to/from the airport), and most activities include transportation. However, the best sites in Iceland are way out of town. Skip the bus tour and rent a car – it’ll cost less and allows you more freedom. You can rent a car from one destination and drop it off in another, or have the company pick the car up.
Thankfully, most of Iceland’s most beautiful natural attractions are free, like Gullfoss, Geysir, Thingvellir, Jokulsarlon, and Reynisfjara. For a truly local Icelandic experience, head to the pool. Skip the Blue Lagoon – it’s expensive and very crowded. There are plenty of other hot springs, including the Myvatn Nature Baths and the Secret Lagoon. Nearly every town has a public pool with geothermally heated water; the pools are open year round and admission is only a few dollars.
For cheap eats, there’s the Icelandic hot dog, a national snack that can be found at just about every gas station around the country. Made of lamb and pork and topped with fried and raw onions, remoulade, a sweet mustard and ketchup, they cost less than $5.
via Go Overseas
The best part about Hawaii is its nature, so it’s a great place to spend lots of time outdoors. All of Hawaii’s beaches are free and open to the public, even if they front a private residence.
If you prefer mountains, hundreds of hiking trails on every island offer mountain and rainforest exploration, most at no charge. Popular sites like the Diamond Head State Monument and Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve (favorite of the Obamas) charge $1 for walk-ins ($5 for a car).
Private tours offer transportation to Pearl Harbor and entry to the area, but the National Park Service gives out 1,300 free walk-up tickets each day, first come, first serve, and the city’s bus will get you there for $2.50.
With 80% of Hawaii’s food shipped from the mainland, it’s expensive for even locals to find reasonable grindz (the local slang for alimentary pleasures). A staple food is the poke bowl, which you can get from lunch wagons on street corners, and open markets, for about $8.
Most visitors come to Waikiki for the sunset, and watching it from the beach is nature’s daily masterpiece, but it’s not cheap to set up camp there. Instead, check into Airbnbs with the same view at a fraction of the cost. There are also off-season packages that include hotel/air/car during the months of (late) January, February, September and October.
via Midweek Magazine
Sweden — and Stockholm in particular — will put a dent in your wallet, especially when eating out. So, eat your heaviest meals during lunch by keeping an eye out for “dagens rätt” (daily lunch) signs at restaurants. These are often dinner-sized portions with salad buffets, bread/butter and coffee all included for at least half the price.
For activities, there are tons of free museums and free walking tours and at least 40 free outdoor gyms across town. There’s also a free guided tour of Stockholm’s Tunnelbana (subway) system, which is the world’s longest art exhibition.
For affordable sleeps, check out floating boat hotels docked around town for novel ambiance. The elegant M/S Kronprinsesse Märtha is a refurbished 1928 steamship, while Mälardrottningen Yacht Hotel was built in 1924 by American millionaire C.K.G Billings and later given to Barbara Hutton – heiress of the Woolworth Empire — as a gift for her 18th birthday. For more ideas, here are 50 free ways to enjoy Stockholm.
via Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Slow Travel Stockholm
While many of us travel to Australia, it can be a burden to the wallet if you’re not watching your budget.
One of the best ways to explore Australia cheaply is to hire your own campervan which will give you freedom to travel, and save you heaps in accommodation expenses. Check Vroomvroomvroom.com.au to scout the cheapest campervan deals. An even better way is snagging a relocation deal — this is when you grab a rental vehicle for free in return for “couriering” it to a particular location, so you get around for nothing. Check out imoova.com for available relocation – even if you don’t see something suitable, you can still fill out a waiting list form. Then if something does become available, imoova will contact you with a relocation deal.
Many visitors head to Sydney, but it can be shockingly expensive. However, there’s plenty beyond the city walls – get out of the metro area to see some quieter and more peaceful destinations. Located in Ku-Ring-Gar Chase National Park, the Basin is Sydney’s most popular beach camping spot. A little further afield, is the Hunter Valley, New South Wales’ premier wine region. For more ideas, check out “8 Fantastic Sydney Day Trips Worth Leaving The City For!”
The Whitsundays is also beautiful, but majorly expensive if you want to go sailing here. However, you can camp on these remote, paradise islands instead — you’ll save a ton and get to enjoy a perfect sunset without the crowds. If camping isn’t your thing, there’s a 5-star hostel, Rambutan, in Townsville which is a great overnight spot if you’re heading out to the Great Barrier Reef. For more ideas, check out “9 Easy Ways to Save Money When Travelling Australia.”