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By Transamerica / Aug 31, 2016

Three Ways to Save on an Overseas Vacation

22986_TLPBCBSV0916_SaveVacations_V1 If you’ve decided to travel the world (or at least one or two distant corners of it), congratulations on the smart expenditure! The memories you’ll make will last longer than even your enjoyment of a big screen TV.

In a Harvard study, researchers found that 57% report greater happiness from experiential purchases (as opposed to 34% from buying material goods).

When I first moved to Quito, Ecuador, I made every rookie tourist mistake possible. After two years there, I knew how to maximize my limited travel budget to experience more (in Peru, Chile, Mexico, and Honduras) while paying less.

I’ve learned a few ways to get the most out of your experiences overseas:

  1. Notice your comfort zone. Then leave it. If you expect travel in Slovakia to feel as comfortable as a road trip in Florida or a trip to the Eiffel Tower to feel like a visit to the Statue of Liberty, you’ll end up paying way more than you should. Search online ahead of time to find the cheapest ways to travel and brave your way through the uncomfortable bits.

On a trip to Machu Picchu, I traded the fancy train car with guaranteed seats for the car a tenth its price, and rode up the mountain standing next to a lady with a chicken on her lap. Don’t compromise your safety, but don’t hold onto your pride. A little awkwardness (and sometimes interesting smells) as you venture into new experiences will pay off big-time, both in price and the realism of your experience.

  1. Don’t treat a foreign city like Disney World. I’ve seen tourists treat locals like the robots in the It’s a Small World ride at a theme park. I’ve seen them take pictures of cows as though somehow a Mexican cow were fascinatingly different from those in Iowa.

Because you’re in what feels like a different world for the express purpose of having fun, it can be easy to forget locals are people like you who might be annoyed if you treat them like part of the scenery. Be kind. Show friendship. It will earn you friends and even save you the little price hikes reserved for the more obnoxious tourists.

  1. Invest in knowing the language. Whether you spend a little to hire a local translator or take a course in Italian before visiting Rome, a little understanding will go a long way.

When you demonstrate an interest in local culture by trying to speak the language or hiring a local in the know, you’ll hear more about which attractions are tourist traps, which locations are unknown treasures, and which restaurants serve the freshest seafood for a ridiculously low price.

Regardless of your destination, if you want to make the most of what you’re spending on an overseas vacation and gain the health benefits of a well-lived life, jump in, be kind, and speak their language.

 

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