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12 Smart Hacks to Travel on a Budget

12 Smart Hacks to Travel on a Budget

The travel bug has bit more and more people these days, but so has the stress of finances. Luckily there are ways to enjoy traveling without the stress of overspending. Here are several tips and tricks I learned while on my travels.

1. Do your research

I can’t stress enough how important it is to do your research. I have saved so much money just by sitting in front of my computer screen a few extra hours per day hunting for the best deals. A good tip I have learned from others is to go on the actual airline’s website and see if they have any specific deals.

2. Sharing is caring 

It can be a little intimidating to share a room with a complete stranger(s) for several days and/or weeks, but more and more people are actually turning to hostels these days. Hostels are accommodating. It is much better to think simply in terms of where you are staying. Don’t look into the petty details, just focus on what you plan to do outside of the room.

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3. Package deals

Whether you decide to buy your ticket and room together or separately, just remember to look for the best deals. I have found from experience that a package deal can actually be less expensive. Also, make sure to choose a budget. We all know what we can afford, so in order to reduce stress during travel, make a budget and stick to it, trust me, you will feel much better if you do.

4. Take what you can carry

We all know packing can be a major pain, but the good thing is that we are able to take a large suitcase and a carry-on. It is important that you make as much space for as many items as you will need since you will have to consider the laundry part of your travels. It helps to have a packing list. Remember to check the weather prior to your trip in order to pack more appropriately for your destination.

5. Cash is important

It is always important to have some cash with you since you never know if you will need it. It is important to notify your credit card company of your dates of travel ahead of time, to avoid any issues while you are vacationing. It also helps to notify them so they that they are prepared to take extra precautions on your card, in case of theft.

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6. WhatsApp

WhatsApp, Viber, etc, are great ways to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues while you are away. Wherever you end up staying will probably have free wifi, so you can connect with anyone for free and avoid any charges. Talk to a representative from your phone carrier and see what they suggest. You can ask them about the least expensive way to use your phone overseas and they will certainly give you the answers you need.

7. Pack a picnic

Even though airlines kindly provide us with meals, it is important to bring some food from home. You can pack several snacks, sandwiches and fruit to accommodate you on your travels. It will help avoid having to pay crazy prices at airports and it also keeps you happy and energized as you head to your destination.

8. Destination save

So, now that you have found your cheap flight and hostel or hotel deal, you have packed enough to accommodate your needs, you downloaded WhatsApp and/or Viber to your phone, took out some cash to exchange and have packed a picnic, you are ready to travel.

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9. Choose the cheaper route

As tempting as it is to take a cab all the way to the foot of your hostel or hotel, I recommend you try the train or bus instead. For example, the average cost of a cab in any city is 25-30 euros and that is expensive. Airports have great directions and services that will direct you to the nearest buses and trains.

10. Eating like a champion

Take advantage of complimentary breakfast options where you are staying, as well as cheaper options within your hostel or hotel. The challenge is eating out. I’ve learned from experience that tourist areas are the priciest. It is important to avoid these spots if you are budgeting, however, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice meal. I once found a cute little mom and pop tapas bar hidden in the back streets of Barcelona for under 10 euros. It was delicious, filling and didn’t starve my wallet.

11. The art of budgeting

Art galleries, museums, parks, etc, are wonderful ways to learn more about your destination’s culture, painters, architects and musicians. For example, when I went to Barcelona, I was able to experience the beauty of Gaudi’s Parque de Gaulle for free. Yes, you heard me, for FREE. There is a large portion of the park that tourists are able to experience without spending a dime.

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12. Walking is the best exercise and it’s free

Think about how far you can get by simply walking. Indulging in the art of walking means you are giving yourself a free scenic walking tour. Walking also gives you the option of being social. It is a great way to meet locals and share a smile, as well as connect, ask questions, ask for advice, directions and even make friends. You never know who you will meet.

More by this author

Nicollete Izakovic

Candidate of International Relations

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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