(CNN) – Just as we were emerging from a long period of blockades and entry restrictions, world oil prices went through the roof.
Now, interest rates are rising around the world to combat inflation, including hotel prices rising by 10% or more in many popular destinations.
However, these effects are not felt equally, and currency changes can amplify or diminish them.
If you’re earning US dollars, the whole world is for sale right now. However, if you earn Japanese Yen or British Pounds, you will spend more than you would have a year ago in most places outside your country.
No matter what’s happening in the world of macro finance, savvy travelers can find a way to travel well for less by tweaking their strategies.
By following these tips, you can still control your travel budget for that much-needed vacation:
Find a great flight deal, then choose your destination
Open to new experiences? To save a few bucks, let flight deals lead the way to your destination.
Many vacationers choose the destination they want to visit, without doing much research, then try to squeeze the prices they discover into their existing budget. A much better strategy is to find out where the cheap flight deals are and then turn one of those options into your vacation destination.
A world map will indicate the starting price of flights to any part of the planet. You can play around with the dates or choose a flexible option to find the ideal time to fly.
Picking a random week a month from now, I found round-trip deals like Denver to Miami for $314, London to Marrakech for $81, and Mumbai to Bangkok for $263.
Go somewhere that has historically attractive prices
Europeans who have seen their currency depreciate will still find rates lower than a year ago in several destinations, including Laos.
Some destinations around the world are cheaper than they’ve ever been thanks to currency devaluations or other financial problems. You can visit Istanbul and Cappadocia in Turkey, explore Patagonia and Buenos Aires in Argentina, or cruise the Nile through the ancient ruins of Egypt.
Keep your fees to a minimum while you travel
When using your credit card, decline offers to convert charges to your local currency. You’ll usually get the best rate using the local currency.
Vladimir Vladimirov/E+/Getty Images
Avoid the “death by 1,000 cuts” that the world’s financial institutions can inflict when you use a credit or debit card outside of the home.
Make sure you have at least one credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, and ideally use a debit card that doesn’t charge an ATM withdrawal fee.
Some debit cards, such as those from Schwab, Fidelity and Capital One, will even reimburse local charges. Others, such as some from Scotiabank, HSBC and Citi, are part of international networks where account holders can use affiliated ATMs abroad without double fees.
In most cases, you’ll get the best rate by using a local currency credit or debit card (decline offers to convert charges to your local currency).
Note that the rules are different in Argentina, where there is a street “blue rate” for crisp dollars or euros that is much more advantageous than the official rate.
Play the hotel and apartment rental game correctly
Additional fees can add a lot to the cost of a vacation rental.
Sometimes hotels offer the best deals; sometimes vacation rentals do. So, buy it.
The upside can vary quite a bit depending on the location and whether you really need a kitchen.
Some cities charge a lot of rental fees, and in some countries (like Thailand and Vietnam), it can be cheaper to eat out for every meal than to cook.
Whichever route you go, pay close attention to what previous guests have to say, especially with services like Airbnb and Booking.com, where only customers who have stayed there can leave a review.
Buy the transport
To save on flight costs, it may be cheaper to fly to a nearby country and take a train to your chosen destination.
Leonid Andronov/Adobe Stock
The proliferation of budget airlines around the world has made it much cheaper to fly within a region, such as Southeast Asia and Europe, or within a country with a lot of domestic airline competition, such as the United States and Mexico.
So it might make sense to find a reasonable long-haul flight to one place and then take a budget airline (or in Europe, a train) to the next country you really wanted to go to.
Search instead of accepting the most obvious route as the one you’re stuck on.
Leave the tourist areas at mealtimes
To eat cheaper, it’s usually best to leave the tourist areas.
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If you want to eat what the locals eat and pay what they’re paying, get out of the area where all the tourists are and start exploring.
Just walking for 15 minutes in any direction or taking the subway a few stops can make a big difference in any city full of foreign visitors, from Prague to Venice to Puerto Vallarta.
You’ll likely spend less and enjoy more authentic meals and experiences.
Load an app like Google Translate onto your phone and you can decipher menus in another language too.
Try to travel outside the high season
Remember: it’s never peak season everywhere at once.
Fokke Baarssen/Adobe Stock
Avoiding peak season is easier said than done if you’re a family dealing with school schedules, but it’s never peak season everywhere at once.
Vacation time in the southern hemisphere is at a different time of year than in the north, first of all, and some tropical destinations are slower in the summer because there is more rain.
Popular destinations such as Mexico, Belize and South Africa are less busy between June and September than in the first quarter of the year.
The ideal time in many popular places is the “shoulder season”. That’s when the weather is still nice but the hordes aren’t in town, like May in the Caribbean or October in Europe.
Play the travel hack game for free flights and rooms
Credit cards can help you earn free flights and hotels.
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What do you get when you charge items to your credit card?
Most airlines and hotel chains have a branded loyalty card through Mastercard, Visa or Amex that earns you enough just from the bonus sign-up to get a free flight or several hotel nights.
Then the points keep adding up as you use the card. These perks can dramatically reduce the cost of a vacation, even if you only spend what you’ve always spent on (and paying) regular bills and expenses through the card.
Americans have more options for this “travel hacking,” but Canadians can access various airline and hotel programs through Amex, CIBC, or Scotiabank.
Europeans have bank card options with several airlines such as Iberia, Aer Lingus, Lufthansa and Air France.
Australians have access to points-earning cards on Cathay Pacific, Qantas and others.
While inflation, fuel prices and currency exchange rates will always be in constant flux, these travel savings strategies will help you get away when you have the chance, without blowing your budget in the process.
Top Image: Caye Caulker Island, Belize. (Matyas Rehak/Adobe Stock)