So you want to take a trip, but you aren’t sure of where yet. You do your research and first look into some of the more budget-friendly destinations, and they all sound great, but not exactly what you had in mind for this vacation.
Then one day you stumble across a photo on a travel site you can’t get out of your head: colourful buildings staggered atop seaside cliffs beside water that’s the perfect shade of blue. It’s the Italian Riviera, and you have to go there.
You do a little digging, but all you find are rooms at luxury hotels from €253 a night, romantic cafes perched seaside and weekly Vespa rentals that equal your car payment back home. But the serene views and stunning architecture keep calling your name. Not to worry — I’ve been travelling for quite a while now, and I’ve figured out a few tips and tricks that can make your stay a little less Old Hollywood and a little more budget friendly.
Go during the off season.
Travelling anywhere during peak tourist season is always more expensive. Flights, hotel costs, and even costs of food and attractions will be higher during certain months. The off season for the Italian Riviera is November to early March, when the temperatures are a little colder and the beaches aren’t over crowded, but the scenery is still picturesque and beautiful.
Shop around for the lowest flight prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal before you go. It may take some extra time, but you can save hundreds of dollars before you even start your trip.
Ask the locals for advice.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is exploring the cuisine in a new city, and I like to try as much of the local food as possible when I’m abroad. But, that can get really expensive pretty quickly, so one way you can save money is by asking some of the locals what their favourite spots are.
Locals typically avoid touristy places, which almost always have higher prices, so chances are their suggestions will not only lead you somewhere slightly cheaper, but also incredibly authentic and delicious.
I learned this one the hard way after my first stint abroad. I knew I’d be charged an ATM fee, but I had no idea how high it would be or that I would be charged a percentage of my purchase every time I used my credit card. I had heard so many horror stories about pickpockets and muggings that I was afraid to carry too much cash on me, and I either used my card or went to the ATM multiple times each day.
While getting used to the local currency and figuring out the exchange rate may take a little while, spending a few extra minutes in your room during your first day can seriously save you some money in the long run. All those little fees add up pretty quickly, especially if you’re taking a long trip.
Avoid international roaming charges.
As a 20-something, social media plays a big part in my life. And because me leaving home to travel the world was hard on my mum, keeping in touch with her during my travels is something I try to make a priority whenever I can. One thing that makes that difficult is not being able to use my phone due to insane international roaming fees.
But luckily I’ve learned the secret to using my phone without extra costs, no matter where I travel. All you have to do is unlock your phone before you go, pick up a local SIM at a convenience store when you arrive, and viola! You can Instagram all your photos and keep in touch without any additional charges, and that alone can save you hundreds of dollars!
Get in touch with your surroundings.
Walking instead of taking a taxi can not only save you a lot of money, but it’s also the best way to get to know the area you’re in. The Ligurian Coast is full of quaint little towns and fishing villages with an abundance of old-world charm, just waiting to be explored.
Instead of focusing on the tourist attractions, which often cost money, do some hiking near the coastline. It’s completely free, and the balmy sea breezes and the warm sun on your skin are likely to leave you more refreshed than any tourist trap.
The glamour of the Italian Riviera certainly lends itself to an expensive vacation, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do some research before you go, and don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path or ask the locals for advice. No matter where you go, the best thing to do is to make your trip your own.
So pack your bags, and don’t forget to enjoy the little adventures that really make travelling memorable.