1. Grocery Shopping/Cooking- Have I ever mentioned that I hate to cook? I, however, love to eat out and whenever I have an opportunity to try a new eatery, I am THERE! But this eating out habit has a downside: Cost. So I started buying groceries and cooking and saved about $300.00. Talking to Mindy Santo helped me eat very well and very simply. She’s why I have an avocado instead of left overs in my fridge,
2. Shopping – Although I am not much of a shopper, I do have a weakness for black clothes, running gear and dressy shoes. But I made a list of things I needed for my trip and went with my favorite style guru Audrey Moore and we bought everything I needed. I spent $30.00 on 2 raincoats, a pair of jeans, shrug, and a few blouses and tank tops. A messenger bag and a small toiletries bag completed my purchase. I packed the lighter black and white raincoat and added layers of clothes.
3. Advanced Purchases – It’s often cheaper to pay for touristy things before your trip because TIME IS MONEY!!! I purchased the Paris Pass and had it delivered to my hostel. It included a Metro pass, fast tracking into museums and access to a tour bus allowing you to arrive quickly to the sights. When I arrived at the Louvre, the line for the tickets were over one hundred people deep and the wait was a minimum of two hours. My museum pass allowed me to bypass that line and I only waited about 15 minutes before I entered the museum. Again, TIME IS MONEY!
4. I started charting the exchange rate for dollars, euros and pounds and tried to hit the bank when the dollar was stronger. There are suggestions to use you debit card at a bank to get money once you arrive but I was traveling over the Easter holiday and wanted to make sure I had cash when I arrived since the banks would be closed. I used an ATM across the street from my hostel because there were long lines at the ATM’s near the museums. My exchange and bank fees were less than $100.00
5. I stayed in a hostel and paid for it before I traveled. Although I’m adventurous and frugal, I MUST have a single room with a bathroom. I will not stay in dormitories. I don’t care how big the bed is, I don’t need a television and I probably won’t eat the breakfast. But when I wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, I need by own bathroom. My room was clean, had a single bed, a desk, television (showing multiple American shows!) and a small bathroom with a tiny shower. The employees were helpful and gave me great advice. I received a discount by paying in advance and my three nights cost $215.00. I paid ZERO for my London lodging but I did bring gifts. Airbnb may be a cheaper way to stay and I’ll look into it when I plan my next trip. But I need a no-smoking, no-pets, no-children, no-cooking household and it may be a stretch to find that.
6. I purchased my transportation from Paris to London via Eurostar in advance. I was able to get a $65.00 seat with unlimited luggage and a buffet. The train was clean and the seats were comfortable. I fell asleep about thirty minutes into my trip and completely missed the buffet. I’m still sad about that and next time I’ll stay awake!
7. I brought Trader Joe’s protein bars and dried fruit with me and ate that instead of the over-priced food at the center of the tourist areas. There were also LONG LINES everywhere and I never had to wait to eat. I shopped at a market near my hostel and ate delicious and cheap cheese and fruit for dinner and breakfast. I always bring snacks when I travel.
8. I had access to an Oyster Card. I would have purchased one and had it waiting for me but I borrowed one while I was in London and added money to it as necessary. It is THE least expensive way to travel in London. Other than walking.
9. I packed food to bring to my daughter and shared it with her and her flat mates. That meant one less night eating out. The Girl Scout cookies, Apple Jacks and brownies were a hit!
10. Finally, I saved money with my passport. My photos were $5.00 with points I earned from my pharmacy. I ordered it in a timely fashion and didn’t have to pay the rush fee. If you’re thinking about traveling abroad (and why wouldn’t you??) apply for your passport now. Also, look for ways to get your passport photos free or cheaply. You can also take them yourself if you follow these guidelines.
So, that’s how I did it. Tell me, what would you have done differently? How could I improve the way I save money? Do you have any hints, ideas or suggestions? Tell me in the comments!