Travel money tips and advice: How to stretch your travel dollar further

At home, I eat three square meals a day. On the road, it's a different story. At a breakfast buffet, I can work my way through a mountain of fruit, cereal, eggs, toast and cheese, washed down with juice and coffee. It's such a ridiculous amount of food that I need only one more meal for the day – late lunch or early dinner.

Breakfasting like a king (or queen) is one way to stretch travel funds, especially when exploring more expensive destinations such as Sweden and Switzerland. It frees up more time for exploring, too. I also bring an empty water bottle to refill on the road (easy to do in places like Zurich, home to 1200 fountains gushing with drinkable spring water), a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen and a lightweight umbrella.

Buying those little things while away can add up, especially when the Aussie dollar isn't doing well against your destination's currency (I still wince about that time I travelled around the United States when the Aussie dollar had slumped to just US49 cents). Make like the locals. Montreal, for example, is brimming with happy-hour specials such as discounted pints and two-for-one cocktails during the after-work ritual known as 5 à 7.

Another thing: I've ditched silly souvenirs. I'd rather splurge on one quality item, such as the sculpture I bought on the Tiwi Islands off Darwin.

It can also be worth asking strangers for help. By the time I disembarked at a scenic Alaskan spot called Homer from the overnight ferry from Kodiak Island, I'd made new friends who offered to drive me along the seven kilometre spit to the airport, but suddenly I wanted to linger to take photographs. It was the end of summer and some businesses were already shuttered, lending the spit a charming, if somewhat desolate, air.

With explorations done, I saw two young women in bikini tops and bell-bottom pants pile into a car with their dog. I asked for a lift and they happily cleared space on the backseat. We chatted as the salty air whipped our hair around, and the boxer looked at me with big sad eyes for encroaching on his domain.

The woman in the passenger seat wore heart-shaped sunglasses and, every time she swivelled around, I felt like I was in a scene from Almost Famous. We parted ways with a big hug. That ride cost nothing but gave me everything I needed to continue on my way. 

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