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10 Genius Ways to Save Money While Traveling Abroad

10 Genius Ways to Save Money While Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad may seem like an unobtainable goal, especially if you have the added expense of taking children with you. However, there are several techniques that you can utilize to help make a trip overseas just as affordable as one within your own country. In fact, any thrifty traveler can go on a seemingly once in a lifetime vacation as long as they take the time to properly analyze their options and prepare for a well-budgeted and planned out holiday.

1. Choose Airfare Wisely

The cost of airfare varies not only by the time of year but even by the day of the week that your trip begins. Travel experts recommend purchasing tickets somewhere between 50 and 100 days before your departure. You can also reduce your expenses by as much as 20 percent by selecting flights that depart on a Thursday and return on a Monday. Additionally, most airlines offer discounted tickets during the month of September, but you might be required to travel relatively quickly in order to take advantage of this option. Another good way to cut costs is by traveling abroad to your chosen overseas destination during the off-season.

2. Be a Thrifty Diner

It is easy to get wrapped up in allure of trying out several new restaurants, especially if you really enjoy the cuisine that your vacation destination is known for. On the other hand, unless your trip was planned primarily around the idea of eating out frequently, you can use this aspect of daily life to save some money.

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For example, you will often find a mixture of cafés and high-class restaurants in the same general area. Eating at a café or even from a street vendor is by far the better financial choice. Keep in mind that you can also pick up supplies from the local grocery store to eat for even less. Making a picnic lunch is a great way to keep your energy up for a minimal cost, and it will encourage you to enjoy a local park while you are exploring the town.

3. Screen Car Rentals

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you even need a car rental. If the answer is a definite yes, you should take the time to look through discount booking sites in order to get the best possible deal. You will also need to familiarize yourself with the local laws and what, if any, assistance your insurance company will provide if you are in an accident. This will make it easier to avoid adding on insurance that you do not need. Another important step to take is looking through traveler reviews from the car rental companies that you are considering. Doing this will enable you to steer clear of companies that have a history of providing poor customer service or inflating their rental rates.

4. Utilize the Cheapest Transportation

If you do not need to rent a car, you can save even more money by ensuring that you choose the cheapest transportation options for each portion of your journey. Walking is always the best method from a cost perspective, and it will allow you to truly experience a new town. However, when this is not a suitable option, you should look into any discounted train and bus tickets that are offered for travelers. A prime example of this is the fact that you can save money by buying a 10 pack of train tickets in Paris. There are also discounts for using an Oyster card in London during non-peak hours. Buying in advance can save you time and money, along with eliminating the hassle of attempting to communicate in a different language while you are traveling abroad.

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5. Know Your Currency

The currency exchange rate changes constantly, so it is a good idea to research these rates before you leave for your trip. You can also exchange your currency in advance, and this means that it can be very beneficial to begin tracking the exchange rate a few months before your trip. After all, if the rate experiences a notable drop, you could save a lot of money by moving forward with an exchange before the cost increases again. You may also wish to use the exchange rates to help you determine which country to visit. American travelers can currently get more out of their money in Australia and New Zealand than in Europe, and this is definitely worth considering.

6. Research Your Accommodations

Many people choose a hotel because it is part of a chain that they are familiar with or it is available for a discount through a travel site. Although both of these reasons can lead to a solid decision, there are several other options that you should consider. If you are comfortable sharing space and are not traveling with children, you may be able to save a lot of money at a hostel.

Travelers who want more privacy than a hostel can offer may be able to find very good deals by choosing a vacation rental property in lieu of a hotel. The pricing will probably be similar, but the added bonus of being able to cook your own meals can save you a lot of money on dining out. Make sure that you select a rental that is close to the downtown area or located near a bus or train line, though, or else you will waste your saved lodging money on transportation. As always, check into the reviews of any place that you are considering to ensure that you make an informed decision. You can get some financial protection by reserving a rental through VRBO.com or Airbnb.com.

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7. Use Savvy Shopping Skills While Traveling Abroad

Traditional stores may have items of interest, but they are also much more likely to be easily duplicated at home. Instead, look into local markets where truly one-of-a-kind items can be found at a reduced cost. Many cultures expect you to haggle over pricing in the marketplace, so be sure to research local customs to avoid spending more money than necessary. Azerbaijan is a prime example of this practice. The pricing in their markets is always inflated to allow consumers to haggle for a better deal, but they will take the listed price with a confused smile if you are not savvy enough to know how their markets work.

8. Download Budget Travel Apps

Although it is wise to book as many things in advance as possible, you may still find yourself needing to select a new hotel or rental car while you are on the go. Instead of attempting to do everything in person, you can use budget travel apps to quickly sort through all of your options until you find the right deal. These apps can also be very useful when you are in the planning stages of your trip because they make it possible to track price fluctuations so that you can snatch up a good discount.

9. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment

Almost every major city has a long list of free entertainment options, but you might need to spend some time researching this topic in order to find what you are looking for. Of course, cities such as London actually make it quite easy to stay entertained for free throughout your visit. Almost every museum in London is free, which means it is a dream destination for art and history lovers. If Paris is more your style, you can visit the highly regarded Louvre for free on the first Sunday of every month. Free museum days tend to attract a very large crowd, so be prepared to get in line early or else face the potential consequence of waiting for several hours. You may also be able to find free concerts in a local park during the summer.

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10. Steer Clear of the “Only Here” Mentality

There are some things that can only be done in specific locations, and you may wish to put some of your budget toward these experiences and events. This definitely makes sense and can be very memorable, but be sure to steer clear of doing too many of these special things because they will almost certainly break your budget. The best way to do this is to list out every unique experience you want to have and then narrow it down to the one or two things on the list that are the most exciting or affordable. Additionally, do not waste time or money on activities that can be done at home. In other words, it does not make sense to go to the movies to see the latest blockbuster when the same film is showing at home. Spending your budget wisely requires you to make choices that can maximize your fun without costing an arm and a leg.

You can also make a smaller budget work by using practical traveling tips such as doing laundry during your vacation and keeping your money safe in your front pocket. Putting all of these techniques to work for you can make it possible to take a trip that always seemed to be outside your financial means. Even if you still have to save up for a couple of years to turn your dream vacation into a reality, there is no good reason to stay stuck at home when you could begin seeing the world.

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com, via CC0 License via pexels.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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