One of the most commonly asked questions I receive would be asking how much spending money should one person take, whether they’re going for a city break or flying to the other side of the world for a month long vacation. The simple answer is that one size doesn’t fit all - there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration such as whether your accommodation has been paid for, the attractions you’ll be visiting as well as whether the country is known to be expensive or inexpensive.
Before buying any sort of currency it would be advisable to do your research into the places you’ll be visiting and whether they’re notoriously known for being expensive or more hopefully inexpensive. For example, when I travelled to Poland I had brought 500zł to which I returned with 200zł as the prices there had been incredibly inexpensive even though I had splurged on meals as well as gifts for family and friends. If you simply type in “Is ____ expensive?” then you’ll get a rough idea of what travellers have spent regarding food, drinks, activities as well as the price range of specific items which should hopefully begin to give you an idea of how much to take.
If you’ve already prebooked and paid in full for your accommodation then this segment won’t apply to you. If you’ve chosen the option to pay for your accommodation upon arrival then the first thing to do would be to create a separate bank account to store the money to pay for this in - mainly as it will mean that the money will stay there without the option for it to be spent. It’s also important to remember that some debit and credit card companies will charge a foreign transaction fee - which is around 2-3% of the total purchase. From the moment you reserve your accommodation I’d begin to save and make a plan of how much you will need as well as seeing what your accommodation includes.
Food and Drink
Before I travel anywhere I make sure that I’ve scouted out the local restaurants, cafes and bars in the local area. The reason for this being that I would be able to see how much the food and drink near my accommodation would cost - from there I could make an estimate of how much I would be spending per meal, per day. If you’ve got your breakfast included with your room rate for your accommodation then you will only need to focus on lunch, dinner and extra snacks. When I travelled to Amsterdam I knew that dinner would set me back around €20 whereas lunch would only set me back €10 as well as snacks per day only costing €3. From there I worked out that I should budget just over €30 per day for food and as I was there for three days it meant I budgeted around €90. This allows me to give me leeway as if I spend over then it’s accounted for as well as if I spend under this amount it allowed me to bring money back home to exchange.
Personally I prefer to book as many activities as I can before travelling, the main reason being that it allows me to simply turn up and enjoy the attraction or tour. However, in some circumstances such as free walking tours - the only way I can tip these tours is by attending the tour and then tipping afterwards using the local currency. I tip at least €10-20 per tour, even if it’s stated that it’s a “free” walking tour - more information regarding these tours can be found by clicking here. If you’ve already booked up your activities then keep extra money spare in case you visit a gift shop from the museum or landmark - you never know what they may sell and what may catch your eye.
If on holiday you buy more than the odd souvenir and go full out in the local shops and any shopping centres then make sure that your wallet can cope. For example, in New York I knew that there were two main shopping centres and hundreds of shops that I wanted to go in which allowed me to budget around $50 to $70 to fund my shopping habit - some days I spent around this amount and some days I spent a lot less than I had planned. Either way, I had to keep in consideration that I had a weight limit for both suitcases, which I went over slightly but luckily never got charged.
Transport can either be one of the most expensive areas when travelling simply because a taxi here and there will soon add up. Hundreds upon hundreds of cities such as London, New York, Barcelona and Paris have extensive methods of public transport which are very inexpensive and convenient. If you plan to use public transport then see whether it’s worth investing into a transport card or pass that allows you to use public transportation cheaply around the city you’re in. If you do want to use taxis then research beforehand what a journey will cost you, for example from one landmark to another, which not only allows you to have a rough idea of how much money to bring but prevents you from being scammed. Additionally, make sure that you know what taxi’s look like, it sounds stupid, but you wouldn’t want to get into an unmarked taxi as there’s a risk of your safety being breached as well as your wallet.
Spending Money for Amsterdam 2020:
As I’m travelling back to Amsterdam next year I already have a budget in mind which has allowed me to purchase euros here and there to save up for the trip. As I’m there for three nights but four days I budgeted that I will need around €200 - I always bring extra in case of an emergency or I see something I’d like to buy and splurge on.
As much as the question has the answer in itself already, it’s an act of judgement and how your morality works. Free Walking Tours have been around for years and have become popular for those travelling on a budget who want to see everything the city they’re visiting has to offer. In Amsterdam walking tours are popular as getting around by car is not only time consuming but won’t allow you to see everything Amsterdam has to offer. These walking tours have found their popularity through recent bloggers and word of mouth - internet marketing has allowed these tours to become popular without spending a penny.
The way these free walking tours work is a tour will be advertised on the tour company’s website or through the use of social media platforms. People wishing to go on the tour will either have to sign up with their email and confirm their attendance or simply turn up at the specified time and location given. From there the guide will introduce themselves and most importantly explain how these tours work: they work for free and reply on tips and donations from visitors who use these guides. At the end of the tour there will be the chance to tip these guides or simply walk away - but it’s simply not that simple. As much as people will already be thinking “I can simply walk away after all of this is done' 'the reality is a lot different. After watching the guide speak for two or three hours while recalling information and dates about events in the city - how can you not feel obliged to tip? I’ve been on many walking tours and have not seen anyone once walk away without putting in at least £10/€11. Additionally, some of these tours can be as small as up to four people - making it more of a private tour than a public one, which then leads many to tip even more.
Nevertheless, there’s still the question of ethics and morality coming into play here. There have been many articles written regarding the ethics of these companies including whether they pay their taxes on this income they’re receiving as it’s advertised as a free walking tour. Furthermore, many people are concerned as to how much these tour guides actually take home - how much of their profits need to be given to their management or company and how much profit is actually made? This is the point where most people’s opinions regarding free tours change as their mind flashes back to when they tipped their tour guide a less than generous tips or some even walking away and paying nothing.
Regardless, these tour guides deliver exceptional information regarding the city you’re visiting whether it be about the history, the impact of the First and Second World War or specific areas in rain or shine. This shouldn’t only be a tour that is praised by the gracious tips of €10, €15 or €20 but should be spoken about more often as these people purely rely on tips to which some tour guides will actually have to give away a small part of their earnings. Even though I’m someone who tries to save money in whatever way I can, I have found that these “free walking tours” are the furthest notion from free that could be found but I am more than happy to pay into these tours and keep them going for as long as possible.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.