When most people unexpectedly gain a surplus of money, one of the first things they say they’ll do with it is travel. Of course, traveling is expensive—a luxury activity when compared with local entertainment, but it doesn’t have to be quite as pricy as most would-be travelers assume. Traveling on a budget is an exact science; it might take a little while to become an expert, but these four budget-friendly practices can satisfy your wanderlust without draining your bank account.
- Hotels < Hostels
Hotels in Amsterdam can easily exceed $100 per night, per person. Unless you want to spend half your budget just finding a place to stay every night, you’ll want to take the budget-friendly route by choosing hostels instead. Hostels can cost as little as $15 per night, while also offering more opportunities to socialize with other wanderers. If you’re going to be staying for an extended period of time, subletting an apartment might also be an economically efficient choice. Or if you really want to pinch some pennies, it doesn’t get much cheaper than couch-surfing!
- Have a Back-Up Plan
Sometimes being smart with money isn’t so much about your Plan A as it is about your Plan B. Even if you skipped meals and slept on park benches, a disaster like theft or a major medical operation could leave you stranded without a dime to your name. Your back-up plan should include carrying international travel medical insurance to keep you covered during emergencies, and a savings account available for “just in case” moments only.
- Walk and/or Bike
Good for the earth and your wallet, walking and biking are always reliable forms of transportation in Amsterdam. Bicycle rental facilities are located all over the city, and 40 percent of residents choose this two-wheeled transportation option. However, if you’ll be traveling a bit farther, Amsterdam has excellent public transportation to get you where you need to be. For short-term, long-distance traveling, look into the I amsterdam City Card for unlimited use of the GVB public transport system for a period of 24, 48 or 72 hours.
- Entertainment and Dining on a Dollar
Naturally, stocking up on fresh market foods and dining at home is the cheapest way to feed yourself in Amsterdam, but you just can’t get the full experience of the city without a few meals out. Breakfast is the cheapest meal, so make sure to visit one of Holland’s many popular cafés to enjoy a morning meal. For a traditional Dutch breakfast, be sure to order the uitsmijter, which is two fried eggs on bread with cheese and/or ham. And there are plenty of free entertainment options to fill up your day between meals, such as free boat tours at the St. Nicolaas Boat Club, open air theater and music at Vondelpark, and free Friday Night Skate events in the same area.
Since summer is such a popular tourist season for Amsterdam, you can save money by traveling during late spring and early fall. This not only allows you to avoid crowds during your stay, but also ensures lower prices on everything from lodging to dining. With all the money you’ll save, you might even be able to take a tour around some neighboring countries for a more comprehensive European experience.