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Ten small ways to save big on foreign travel

When traveling abroad, it’s obviously important to find cheap airfare, a vacation package deal, or that great hotel rate?but there’s more to budget travel than these big-ticket items. In fact, you can save a bundle by doing some little things sensibly. From knowing where to eat lunch, how to hail a cab, or when to use your credit card, small actions can quickly add up to sizeable savings. Read on for our tips.

  • Know your credit card’s policies. Card issuers typically charge fees for taking cash advances, and some tack on extra percentages for international exchange or foreign retail purchases. Read the fine print or call your card company to find out what you can expect before you leave for vacation.
  • Find out your fare before you step into a taxi. Cabs don’t use meters in many countries, and prices are negotiable. Ask your potential driver for a rate, and haggle if you think you can get a better one.
  • Buy a local phone card. Rather than arranging for international phone cards back home or renting a cell phone, you can often call for cheap by picking up a card at a local shop or post office.
  • Learn to tip wisely. Read your guidebook and ask around to find out whom to tip and how much to give them.
  • Visit local markets. The most popular sites can be full of merchants looking to make a buck off tourists. You may find souvenirs for half the price if you shop where the locals do.
  • Book a hotel with breakfast included. Buffets are great ways to start the day off with a satisfying meal that won’t cost you extra.
  • Head to the supermarket. Eating every meal in a restaurant can get expensive fast, so stock up on some local delicacies and have a picnic in the park. Just like at home, foreign food is usually cheaper at bigger stores.
  • Watch out for “free” drinks. Some tourist restaurants will appear to offer complimentary cocktails, but then stick a charge (often inflated) on your bill.
  • Walk around town. If you don’t have terribly far to go and the weather’s nice, start strolling. It’s a great opportunity to see the unexpected, take pictures, and cut your transportation costs.
  • Don’t miss the freebies. On certain days, museums and other attractions may drop their entrance fees. Ask at your hotel, or check your guidebook for dates.

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