When traveling it's easy to get so focused on the big expenses like plane tickets and hotels that you overlook the small expenses, that is until the credit card bill comes.
One vacation my travel companions and I agreed that when we reserved a rental car we would pay extra for a car with a GPS system. This additional cost was about $10.00 a day, but we thought the GPS system would ease the stress of driving in a strange city by preventing us from getting lost. None of us use a GPS system in our own cars, but the device is designed to simplify getting around right? How hard could it be? A lot harder than we anticipated. We tried to locate our destination using our hotel address as a starting point. The GPS system insisted on having just the name of the street first. When I typed in King Street it brought up several local King Streets preceded by north, south east or wests as in East King Street or West King Street. The problem was that our hotel was simply on King Street. Not north, south, east or west King Street, just King Street. After trying other features on the GPS system that might generate some sort of useful directions we gave up and reverted back to the printed map we had. We eventually figured out where we were going and vowed to never pay for a GPS system again.
Food is a big expense while traveling. If a free breakfast is included with your hotel stay and it consists of something more appetizing than a stale donut and cheap coffee, then by all means take advantage of it. For lunch and dinner you will probably have your choice of everything from sandwich shops to nicer restaurants. Frequent the nicer restaurants during lunchtime when their menu will be cheaper and save the bargain sandwich shops for dinner meals.
Some tourist friendly travel destinations provide local buses, trolleys or even boats for getting around. One way or another transportation is probably going to cost you money. To save cash on transportation, cluster your activities around the same areas. If you are interested in one attraction across town look into other attractions and restaurants in the same general vicinity so you can hit them all at once and not have to pay for multiple rides going in opposite directions.
All that sightseeing can work up an appetite, but anything that comes out of a hotel vending machine can be ridiciously overpriced. Ask the hotel desk clerk for the location of the nearest drug store or supermarket and stock up on your soda pop and snacks there. If you want to be a truly thrifty traveler, bring your own energy snack bars such as Luna Bars and carry an empty water bottle with you that you can fill up whenever you come across a drinking fountain.
The desire to see new places, new faces and having experiences you simply can't get at home is so strong it's easy to get swept up in the adventure of travel and lose sight of the real cost involved, but by planning ahead you can reduce the financial stress of traveling and focus on having fun!