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Overseas, But Not Over Budget

Overseas, But Not Over Budget

Pick value-for-money destinations.

Where to go for warm is a wide choice. But take Sydney off the bucket list. Australia may have the climate, but they have the prices that go with it. Ditto for the Barbados. Check out Ecuador, the Honduras and Colombia. Yes, Colombia has seriously cleaned up its act. Now it just has to repair its image and it will be ‘the’ new destination. So now would be a good time to go to Medellin. The year-around weather in Bogata is too chilly. The day-time high hovers around 20 C and it may drop to five at night, so you really won’t thaw out there.

Fancy a trip to Europe? Although you may have always wanted to go to Paris, Prague or Budapest are in a similar league – but much cheaper. In fact, a rough calculation is that Eastern Europe is 25 to 50 per cent cheaper than Western Europe. And not quite as touristy.

Book tickets online to get the best deals.

Get your tickets well in advance and try to avoid high season when everything is hideously expensive. With online options, travel agents are joining scullery maids as an occupational choice. So do your homework and save.

The flip-side suggestion is to do a last-minute booking if you really don’t care where you are going to end up. Just be sure you have your passport, visa and vaccinations lined up. Then hit the “I don’t mind – inspire me!” button and see what pops up.

Find affordable accommodation.

Finding a place to lay your head at the end of the day has always been a big-ticket item. There have long been hostels, but they are aimed at the backpackers and you may not appreciate the party-hearty types who whoop it up in the next room at 2 a.m. B&B is another option, but the established ones tend to be a bit pricy.

So along comes Airb&b, an economical home-stay option. Other sites to check are Homestays and Wimdu. As times get tighter, regular-type people are renting out their spare bedrooms at affordable prices. On this site you can review the listings – complete with photos and details about the person who owns the house – and it comes in a variety for formats, including least to most expensive.

Save a fortune on meals.

Home-stays often offer breakfast, but it is often little more than of the piece-of-toast and a dab of butter and jam. Stock up on fruit, rolls, peanut butter and such and make your own hearty start to the day. Buy cheese in the evening and it will be fine in the morning. Get an immersion heater, buy a single cup plunger pot and make your own coffee. Breakfast in will save you serious cash. Then have your big meal at lunch. Many restaurants – including some very well-known ones with Michelin stars – offer daily specials and they are good value. After a hearty meals in the morning and the early afternoon you are set up and can get by on snack-type food for dinner. And it is healthier for you.

Travel like a local.

Rather than relying on taxis – which can become very expensive very quickly – study up on the bus and train system of your destination. Another good reason to do a home-stay is that many of them offer airport pick-up for a reasonable price. And your hosts can tell you how to get around town.