Travelling in a responsible and cost-effective way is something we can all get behind. Whether you’re exploring the mountains of Patagonia or snorkelling off the Sri Lankan coast, travelling for less always makes your trip a little sweeter. However, it can be tough to reconcile good value with incredible experience - and it’s a shame to sacrifice on either! With this in mind, we asked our local experts for their top tips on getting value for money on the road. Their on the ground knowledge, and local recommendations, can take your itinerary up to the next level…
Food and drink
When on the road, it can be easy to fall into restaurant tourist traps. Places touting international cuisine, hotels especially, are generally overpriced and make their dishes with imported ingredients. With so many destinations boasting incredible food scenes, it seems a shame to miss out!
To get the best out of your foodie experience, eat as the locals do. Whether this is bustling street markets or family owned bistros, their recommendations are sure to impress. Following their lead is a great way to immerse yourself in the surrounding culture (and maybe even make some new friends along the way!) Whether you’re sampling Argentinian pastries or starting the day with Cambodian breakfast soup, local foods are sure to take your experience to the next level.
There’s a good example of this in Siem Reap, Cambodia. There are two Cambodian dishes you will almost certainly try when you’re there - lok lak and fish amok. Lok Lak is rice with beef in a pepper and soy sauce. Fish Amok is a classic mild curry served in banana leaf. They cost about 5 USD on the street, 10 USD in a Cambodian restaurant and about 40 USD in a hotel! Just think, the money you save could have bought you an even better place to stay - food for thought.
Gone are the days when a hotel was the only option for comfortable travel. With the rise of AirBnB, home stays have undergone a complete image overhaul and there’s never been a better time to experience them. Far better value than a chain hotel, and definitely more authentic, home stays are increasingly establishing themselves as a viable and enjoyable accommodation option. No longer just a spare room in someone’s house, they offer a great way to save money while also getting to know local people. With their knowledge of the area, and the extensive recommendations they can give you, it’s a great value option for the savvy traveller.
There are some destinations that just wouldn’t work without homestays - a good example is Georgia, a beautiful gem of a country in the Caucasus mountains. Once you leave the main towns and cities - which you should do as the countryside is extravagantly beautiful - you see the real Georgia: one thousand year-old stone villages, snow-capped mountains and vineyards interspersed with soaring, monumental churches. You can’t really see this true, rural Georgia without staying in a homestay. They come in all shapes and size, from cabins in the wilderness all the way up to suburban historic mansions. The food and welcome are almost always memorably good.
Rather than renting a car or hiring a taxi, always keep an eye out for alternative transport options. If you’re in a big city, metro systems and bus routes are usually well organised and reliable (and good fun even if they’re not!). Using them as your route into and around the city is also a great way to gain an insight into the local lifestyle. Whether you’re watching the world go by from a tram window or deciphering underground route maps, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. Alternatively, for the eco-conscious, renting pushbikes is a great value way to immerse yourself in your surroundings. Meandering through the streets of Buenos Aires or traversing rice paddies in rural Vietnam, it’s hard to imagine a better way to travel.
We can see this really clearly in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Lots of people pass through and don’t stop - which is a great shame as there are some really interesting things here. You can see the entire city using its iconic and very beautiful metro system - one of the biggest in the former Soviet Union. Our favourite station is Kosmonaut - with murals of Yuri Gargarin. Our local partner ICTS runs tours of Tashkent by metro - exclusive to TravelLocal.
Things to do
They say that the best things in life are free and getting to know a new destination is no exception. Taking a walk through the neighbourhoods surrounding your accommodation, and taking some time to get to know the sites, is great value in more ways than one. Getting an idea of the local hotspots can take your experience to the next level - whether you’re grabbing a coffee on the go or indulging in a spot of people watching. Furthermore, many cities host free art and culture exhibitions all year round. Doing some research before you head off, and making a note of any festivals or events that take your fancy, can save you money and give you a great experience.
Valparaiso in Chile has a reputation for its brightly painted walls, winding streets and artistic vibes. The best way to get around the vertiginous hillsides is using the network of funicular railways - most of which date from the early 20th Century. The city is arranged on hills surrounding a bay, so to head between the port and any of the 'barrios' you can take a step back in time as you board the Victorian-style lifts. One of the best experiences in the city is watching the sun set into the Pacific from a bar high up among the jumbled rooftops.
Feeling ready to head out on your next adventure? Our local experts know their countries better than anyone and can give you an incredible experience. Head to our destination pages or click on any of the country names above to find out more. Alternatively you can send us an enquiry to get your dream trip planning underway!