plonkee money

July 18, 2009

5 items that (might) save you money on travel

Filed under: shopping — Tags: — plonkee @ 1:23 pm

We’re nicely in the middle of the summer season, so here are some things that you should consider obtaining if they will save you money whilst travelling. These are all items that are relatively inexpensive and will save you money in the long run, if you fall into the right category. I’ve noted who I think they would be good for, who probably wouldn’t benefit, and whether I personally own and use the said item.

1. collapsible water bottle

The best are made by Platypus and cost up to about £10 depending on the size you get.

good for

They are good for people who travel by plane to developed destinations and don’t want to buy multiple bottles of water. You can fill them up after security in the airport and then repeatedly in hotels/hostels whilst you’re away. Because they are collapsible they don’t take up valuable space whilst empty.

less good for

If you travel frequently by plane, the money saved in water at the airport by itself might make these worthwhile.

They are not so great if you are going somewhere where you don’t want to drink the water, you’ll need to buy bottles anyway because you won’t be drinking from the taps. If you’re not travelling by plane, that often then you can just bring your water or whatever with you.

personally recommended?

I don’t have one yet but I might get one if my next holiday involves spending time in Europe, N America, NZ or Australia in hot weather.

2. cheap mp3 player

I’m thinking of the ones that have maybe 1Gb of memory and cost less than £20 and are recharged via a USB port.

good for

Ipod type things are awesome and amazing for travel. If you’ve ever sat on a long bus/train/ferry ride without entertainment you will truly appreciate having music available on tap. However, they are easily stolen, so you might not want to take your prized possession with you on a trip, it’ll cost you both money and hassle to replace. Which is where a cheap (inferior) product comes in. They are also easier to recharge – no need for adapters, pretty much everywhere has an internet cafe to use – but you might want to get one with reasonable battery life.

less good for

The extremely fashion conscious who wouldn’t be seen dead without something in the right brand/style. Also if you don’t like music or talking books you probably wouldn’t get much use out of one.

personally recommended?

Yes. I have had (and lost) a basic one of these. It recharged via a USB which was very hassle free, and I could store enough music to last me through the trip. Note that I managed to lose it.

3. money belt

Somewhere hidden to keep your money, passport, tickets, visa etc so that it doesn’t get stolen. Money belts should be worn under the clothes.

good for

Travelling in the parts of Europe/Asia/South America notorious for pickpockets – for example Italy and Spain. There are different versions that you can get – some go round your neck, others look like regular belts (but don’t normally fit a passport or tickets in), there’s one I quite like which loops onto a regular belt and then is worn inside your clothes – which means that there should be something for everyone. They are great for nervous, especially first time, travellers.

less good for

People who will insist on wearing them outside their clothes anyway. It’s like asking to be mugged. If you like to look very stylish whilst away they can be challenging to work with. If you’re going somewhere safe, and so won’t be carrying round any valuables and hardly any money, they won’t be worthwhile. Similarly if your idea of travel is to spend all your time away from people, they aren’t great value.

personally recommended?

I have previously owned one. I was 21 and travelling round the world. It was the cheapest I could buy, and I think I wore it once. I haven’t used one since, but I’m used to (and feel safe in) big busy cities, mostly have electronic travel tickets, and carry only as much money around with me as I would be comfortable doing at home – ymmv. I also claim to be super short, and these all seem to be designed for men. If I go somewhere *interesting* again, I might get the belt loop one and see how that feels.

4. travel insurance

For what is usually a fairly small sum of money in the great scheme of things, an insurance company will pick up the tab when the universe moves against you. Always shop around for a good deal, prices vary massively for the same coverage.

good for

Anyone who is travelling with passports, non-refundable or expensive travel tickets, or quantities of stuff. Or who is travelling somewhere where they are not entitled to free medical care. If you are British and you are travelling anywhere outside the EU you need this for the medical coverage alone.

less good for

People travelling very near to home, who have luggage they can afford to lose or replace, aren’t using a passport, can rebuy their tickets, and have their medical care covered in some other way.

personally recommended?

Good heavens yes, never travel without it, except for non-flying trips within mainland Britain where I’m covered partially by household contents insurance, plus have access to the NHS, and don’t need ID to get home. On one of my first exciting trips, my friend had her camera stolen. I’ve also known people need the medical coverage.

5. silk sleep sheet

A sheet made into a sort of sleeping bag shape, the smallest and best quality are made from silk and are reasonably priced from New Zealand.

good for

Anyone travelling using hostels where they charge extra for linen – on a longer trip those few extra $ add up to quite a bit. They’re also handy for extra warmth when you’re using a sleeping bag (and are more easily washed)  or where you’re less than convinced by the cleanliness of the bed linen.

less good for

People using 3* or better hotels, or staying with friends, or in decent rentals.

personally recommended?

Yes, I have one. I love it. I enjoy hostels, but I like having nice sheets even more. I have also used it in less than clean surroundings in Egypt. It’s so small that I tend to take it wherever I’m not certain that the bed/room will be nice.

So there you go, there are all my suggestions for travel buys that might save you money in the long run. Why not add your ideas in the comments.

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