Originally published on LeonardRaymundo.org
There is nothing quite like traveling the world. No classroom, movie, or book can compare to the real-world experience of having one’s own adventure. That being said, many of life’s sweetest travel experiences can come at a cost.
The main decisions surrounding any adventure are usually focused on transportation, accommodation, activities, and dining. In every one of these cases, the choice comes down to convenience versus savings. With savings, there is usually more effort involved and less luxury. However, as an added benefit to choosing the frugal path, you end up with a more authentic experience than the distance that comes with a more comfortable option. With convenience, there is also a slight disconnect.
The first journey will be about getting to the destination. After that, many smaller travel decisions will need to be made. For the initial trip, travel experts recommend using one of the many discounted airfare sites such as kayak, and tips and tricks from world travelers like NomadicMattcan help with all other decisions as well. The best advice out there is from people who have done the research for you, so listening to them is literally getting free advice from experts.
Once you are in the destination city, research any local options, such as public transportation. While car services and taxis might be cheaper, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision that could prevent future spontaneous adventures that come from hanging out with locals. There is also the question of safety, which should be taken into account in any decision you make when away from home.
A nice hotel might seem like the perfect option when visiting a faraway land, but the truth is that everything you experience will be a sanitized version of reality. For a really authentic, more inexpensive, total-immersion experience, try the pedestrian route. Room sharing sites such as Airbnb or CouchSurfing offer up residences closer to the local flavor. Hostels are a wonderful way to meet friendly strangers and get tips for the current and next stops along your journey.
Depending on your purpose for visiting a specific locale, it’s always a good idea to shoot for package deals or off-peak times to visit. Google Maps’ popular times tool is a great resource for checking the busiest times of popular places and tourist attractions, but there are also apps like TripIt that help you plan itineraries in advance, including any necessary paperwork.
Food and Drink
Street vendors may be the ultimate hidden gem when it comes to experiencing the world. Nothing relays the tastes and flavors and history of a specific culture more accurately than the typical street food of the local inhabitants. Research can be done either in advance or on the fly by talking to residents. If you prefer to sit down, you can still take advantage of the priceless resource that is small-talk with locals.