The height of summer travel will be here shortly, with many Pittsburghers looking to trade in the region’s three rivers in exchange for sandy beaches, exotic locales and charming city retreats. Perhaps you’re among those dreaming of an African safari or an extravagant escape to Paris, but you worry your vacation budget won’t allow for the getaway of a lifetime. If you think you can’t afford an international destination, think again.
“Traveling internationally is always an attractive option for anyone, and if you’re on a budget, it can introduce ideas that you probably never thought of before,” says Sandra C. Colaizzi, Apple Vacations Regional Sales Manager for Western Pennsylvania. “The best start is to do research on the area you’ll be traveling to and identify your cost factor.” Here, Colaizzi shares her five best tips for traveling internationally on a budget.
Sandra C. Colaizzi
Sandra C. Colaizzi is the District Regional Sales Manager of Western Pennsylvania for Apple Vacations, a travel service that assists with the planning of vacations to incredible destinations like the Bahamas, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Punta Cana, Mexico and the Caribbean. As Western Pennsylvania’s Sales Manager, Colaizzi is responsible for finding her clients the best value and service on a variety of airline/hotel packages and all-inclusive vacation packages. She brings 15 years of experience to her position with Apple Vacations along with five years of previous experience as a Sales Manager with Santos Tour Las Vegas.
Know The Region You’re Traveling To
Today’s technology makes planning your international trip easier than ever thanks to the hundreds of free apps and travel websites that are available. Colaizzi always recommends doing a little research before booking your trip so you can fit in more easily with the locals. “While English is widely spoken all over the world, it’s a good practice to learn a few catch phrases of the region just to become familiar with its language and custom.”
Use Public Transportation
More than half of all travelers who vacation internationally rely on mass transit and public transportation to shuffle them from one spot to another, according to the American Public Transportation Association. In fact, roughly 65 percent of travelers say that the accessibility to public transit plays a factor in helping them choose their destination. Colaizzi encourages all travelers to consider using public transportation, especially if they are on a budget. “Invest in purchasing a tram card, Euro pass or an unlimited buss pass for added savings, along with a city guide map for local sightseeing options,” she adds.
Find Cozy and Convenient Lodging
While private rooms and luxury resorts may be your preference, they are not always the most affordable option if money is tight. “When choosing a hotel for your stay, it’s best to pick one offering free amenities, as in Wi-Fi access, continental breakfast and travel-size toiletries,” explains Colaizzi. If a swanky hotel is out of your budget, she recommends booking a bed and breakfast or pension that include features like shared bathrooms for a more affordable dorm-like lodging experience.
Eat Like a Local
One of the best ways to take in the local lifestyle and immerse yourself in a country’s culture is to eat like a local. “Eat where the locals eat to sample their authentic cuisine,” advises Colaizzi. That doesn’t mean dining at the most extravagant, five-star eateries. “There’s no need to go to fancy restaurants; pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meats and breads from local markets or bakeries and have a picnic lunch or dinner.”
Be A Strategic Sightseer
There’s no denying that among the greatest appeal of international travel is the ability to experience places and sights that you’ve perhaps only dreamed about. From Colaizzi’s experience, museums, churches and ancient sights are the most popular and can be costly tourist traps. “Many museums offer a free day every month, which is usually the last Sunday or the month,” hints Colaizzi. To save yourself time and money when visiting travel hotspots, consider purchasing your tickets well in advance to avoid having to stand in long lines on the day of a tour.
Jessica Wasik lives in Pittsburgh where works as a full-time figure skating coach sharing her passion with todays generation of young skaters. A graduate of Robert Morris University with a degree in English Studies, Jessica is also a contributing writer for Allegheny West Magazine. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.