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Money Saving

When travelling, money is often at a premium. On my travels I've picked up some ways to save a few pennies here, and a few pennies there. These tips may not all be ethical, and they may not all even be legal, but hell, most things are illegal nowadays.

Always (ab)use the middle man

I realised this one when I was booking flights to Mexico recently. Being as tight as I am, I am willing to search for days in order to find the cheapest prices to, well anywhere. Or anything for that matter. The cheapest way I'd found to fly from the UK to the American continent was from London to New York with Zoom airlines. So I was looking to find the cheapest way from New York, to Mexico City. And such is my nature to watch the pennies, I was even willing to sit on a bus for 3 days had it turned out cheapest. However, luckily I found a cheaper way. I was on the travel cuts website. That's a student website that's used in North America. I knew about it because of my 2 times in Canada up to this point. It's fucking everywhere in Canada. Anyway, I was on this website, and they had the cheapest flights down to Mexico City that I'd found, so I was booking them, but not actually being in North America, they were being cunts and not letting me book. What they had done however, was tell me the airline that I would be flying with. It'd be harsh not to. So anyway, I proceeded to eventually find this airline. Some Mexican one that I'd never heard of. But they had a version of their website in English, so I searched for their New York to Mexico flight prices. Sure enough, they were offering this same return flight, about $4 cheaper than travel cuts. And they were allowing me to book from over in the UK. Up to this point, I've always avoided middle-man websites such as this. I always viewed that they would not provide you a service for free, so you'd end up paying commission. But I've realised, they do provide a great service for free. They tell you exactly where to book from. They do all the leg work for youand you're under no obligation to buy from them. A little more research in tracking down the actual company, and you can save a few quid, and some time. I consistently use this principle when researching hostels. There are websites that reveiw and compare hostels for you. Then 20 seconds on Google, and you've cut out the middle man.

This same principle applies with high-street stores. Having studied business at university for nearly 4 years now. A further 2 at A-level, I've had people telling me for years about the added value that highstreet stored provide to Middle man buyers. When you can actually see and touch products, they're much more appealing. This is how highstreet stores can fend off competition from lower pricing of the Internet. And yes, highstreet stores do provide an environment where it is possible to judge products more accurately than online. So when I want a new TV, I'll go to Curry's, look at the televisions, get help from the sales rep, and choose the one I want. When I want a new book, I'll go to Waterstones, browse through their large collections. But I'll never buy it. I'll make a note of the make and model of the TV. I might even get the helpful Curry's sales rep to write it down for me. But I'll go home, and buy it from Amazon. Or even eBay, wherever I can find it cheapest. I did this last week with a Spanish book I needed. I spent a long time in Waterstones browsing through their language collection, and eventually decided on this interactive CD-Rom/audio CD/book kit. For £35 for fucks sake. I'm a student. I ordered it about an hour later on Amazon for £17. There's all these people out there providing these great free services. All you need, is to lack the moral compass to feel you owe them for their services, and you can save a ton. And if you can't do that, there's a part of me that feels I should respect you. But I don't. You're a mug. They'll take your money in a second. They're businesses. It's what they're there to do. Screw them over.

Food and toiletries should be free

Free Food This one is for when you really get short on money. I had to do this back in 2005. Hostels often have cabinets and areas in the fridge for people who have food left for when they leave the hostel. It's not like you're gonna find lobsters or steaks left behind. But it's still food. Dry pasta, that kind of crap, which on its own won't make the best meal. However there are establishments out there that provide you with free condiments to enhance your dining experience. McDonalds for example. They give away free salt, pepper and sauces to anyone who wants them. You may only have dry pasta in the hostel food, but add 15 sachets of McDonald's ketchup, and voila, spaghetti bolognaise. Add some pepper as well, and fucking gourmet, a meal fit for a king.

The other great things about hostels, is people are very forgetful. Probably because they're normally stoned. Therefore, toiletries are always being left in hostel bathrooms. I think taking them for yourself violates an unwritten hippy hostel code. But just using them is cool. You'll find them in every hostel you stay in, and you'll never have to pay for toiletries again. When I was travelling in 2005, I even did this without a towel. I was relying on people forgetting their towels so I didn't have to buy another one. And for a couple of weeks it was fine. You can't expect every towel you find to be dry. You can't really expect them to be clean, but can they dry you after a shower. Normally, yes. I eventually gave in after a couple of weeks without a towel and invested in one from a dollar store. I wouldn't recommend this on the long term. Hell, some of them really stank, but until you can find a towel that isn't going to eat into your budget, you can survive.

Free hotels

Hotel lobby In Mexico recently, I came to the realisation of something. I was staying in a dirt cheap hostel. But along a nearby beach was an array of 5-star luxury hotels where I had some more extravagant friends staying. We would meet at this hotel everyday. And being there, those of us staying in the hostel, would make use of the free facilities. This included free broadband Internet, luxury swimming pools, showers, sun loungers etc. All kinds of things you won't find in a hostel. Yet despite having all of these facilities ready for the use of guests, there was no security, and no checking of your validity as a guest. The nearest thing, was once being asked by someone on concierge what our room number was. It's not like they asked for proof or anything, so just make sure you say a room number that the hotel actually has, and you're golden. These hotels were really designed with people in mind, who have no intention of leaving the hotel for days on end. To that end, if you're staying in a dirt cheap hostel, but want a day or 2 in luxury, then 5-star hotels don't check you're actually a guest. Free Internet, free swimming pools, you name it. If they have it, you can use it. This was especially true of the hotels located on the beach, as they all had gates leading down to the beach where guests would frequently go in and out, so there really is an expectation that people will be coming in and out all day in their swimwear. Now unfortunately the people I was with had "morals" whatever the fuck that means, so they weren't down with doing this is other places where we didn't have friends staying. Luckily this isn't a problem for me, so now as I'm travelling and my hostel isn't pampering me quite enough, 5-star hotels baby. They're free!!

Lose your consicence. Get a discount.

Discount Card In a similar light to how 5-star hotels will cater for guests with more money than they know how to spend, hostels cater for their clientel. People either with no money. Or people like me, who are just too tight to spend the money that they have. And as the perks of staying, or pretending to stay in a 5-star hotel, are luxury swimming pools, jacuzzis, that kind of crap, the perks of staying in hostels, are cheap and free stuff. I assume that if you're reading this page, then it is fairly likely that you're already staying in hostels, so this may be pretty irrelevant to you. However, if you're an affluent fucker who's checked into a hotel that they really can't afford, to impress some chic you're trying to bone, then you may need to save a few bucs around town. Going to the tourist sites. Now it only seems fair, that if you fuckers in your expensive hotels are subsidising my life of luxury, that you should get something in return. Well here it is. Discounts. People in hostels get discounts. Any hostel in the world you go into; especially chain hostels like HI's, have discounts for "guests" for all the major local tourist attractions. That's because these attractions know that people staying in hostels are poor/tight fuckers. And they won't be willing to pay full-price. For anything. So to lure these tight fuckers to spend what little money they have, at these attractions, they'll give hostels all kinds of money-saving No conscience promotions. In any major city, you can go up to the front-desk of your hostel, and you can damn-near guarantee that they'll have money-off coupons behind the counter for all the major attractions.

Now like I said, this one isn't really going to benefit the typical shoe-string traveller like me. Because we'll already be staying in the cheapest place available, so will already be privvy to these discounts. However, if you happen to be that guy who's checked into a private room you can't afford, in the hope of getting some ass, then you'll need to save some money. And just like the luxury swimming pools in these hotels are just for the paying guests, so are these discounts only for the guests of these hostels. Only I'll be damned if you ever get asked for ID in any of these places. If anything, the hostels might receive some kind of commission for getting guests to the main attractions, so won't be too fussed about who they give them to. All you need, is the audacity to go into a place that you aren't staying, walk up to the front desk, and ask for a shit-load of money-off coupons. As with most of the ways to save money I come up with, all you need is audacity. The audacity to get free-advice from salesman you have no intention of buying off. The audacity to go into hotels you aren't staying in and use all the facilities. And the audacity to go into hostels you aren't staying in, and take all the stuff designed for poor people. The most expensive thing you can have in this world is a conscience. You lose that, and there's a whole world of money to be saved.

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