Are you preparing for a trip, but want to save as much as you can on sightseeing? Regardless of where you're planning on going, most every destination offers free attractions and discount coupons. By simply knowing where to look, you might be surprised how much you can save on everything from transportation and meals to enjoying a city's top attractions. Here are five tips on how to save on sightseeing while traveling.
Photo Credit: Randy Yagi
Take Public Transportation
You can save a considerable amount of money simply by relying on public transportation instead of a car. This is even more important as those days of low gas prices are becoming a faded memory. Of course, public transportation expenditures will rise with each additional traveler, but try performing a cost comparison between car expenses, including car rentals and insurance versus passenger fares on a bus, train, ferry or subway. Additionally, some cities like Charleston, Orlando and Denver offer free shuttle rides to shopping and major points of interest.
Look For Free Attractions
Most every city has free attractions, whether it's a city park, a public beach, free museum days and live music concerts. It's certainly much easier to find free events in larger cities such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles where something seems to be happening all day. But any city with an official tourism website can help you find free attractions. Take for example Charleston's Visitor's Bureau website, where you can find free activities simply by entering "free" in the search field.
Like free attractions, discounts to local restaurants, hotels, shopping and attractions can be found on official tourism sites and a variety of other sources. Using Charleston's website again as an example, simply enter "discount" in the search field and results like city tours, last minute hotel deals and boat tours to Fort Sumter will appear. Reliable travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz are also good sources for promotions, travel coupons and discounted attractions. Other sites worth visiting specialize in discount coupons for shopping, hotels, restaurants and other local attractions, such as Groupon, RetailMeNot and Living Social.
Purchase a City Pass
Many major cities offer a pass that allows visitors to see many top attractions all for a single price. CityPass is one of the best known passes and is available in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. At first glance, the price may seem steep, which varies between $49 in Boston to $114 in New York. Despite what appears to be a hefty price, this pass can save as much as 50 percent off if paying for each attraction individually. The caveat is, of course, that in order to enjoy these savings, you must use a CityPass for most, if not all of the attractions it's valid to. Other cities offer the GoCityCard, offered in a similar number of destinations, like Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego and Oahu.
It's no surprise that meals on your trip represent a significant amount of your travel budget. While the average cost of dining out hovers around $12 per person, the check can add up quickly when including taxes, a tip and alcoholic drinks. For many travelers, having a beer or a glass of wine complements their meal, but other travelers can save money on drinks by ordering tap water, which should be absolutely free. You can further save money by bringing along a water bottle and filling it up whenever you see a public water fountain. It may be necessary to dine out every now and then on the trip, but you can save money while sightseeing simply by packing food you can purchase at a grocery store.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.
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