Why You Shouldn't Be Hesitant To Splurge On Safety While Traveling

Traveling on a budget is an art form, not a competition. No prizes are given for finding the cheapest transportation, accommodations, or food options. And, really, the cheapest travel options can often carry unforeseen physical, financial, and mental tolls — some more expensive than others. In travel, like most aspects of life, there will be times to spend up a bit. An affordable dentist is different than a back-alley one.

When it comes to travel, you're already spending money on the experience. The cost of this experience is already baked in, whether you tend to budget for luxury linens or replacement shoelace belts. Outside of that baked-in travel expense, you'll then decide where, when, and how to spend your money while traveling.

Regardless of your priorities and preference, your approach to travel budgets and spending should never compromise your safety or reasonable comfort. These aspects of travel should be part of your planned travel expense.

According to a recent survey by Destination Analysts, 68% of American travelers report they'll be more frugal regarding travel expenses due to recession fears. While this survey does not specify whether these "American travelers" are luxury or budget travelers, the poll does reveal a sense of pressure to save money while traveling. 

Sleep soundly with reasonable lodging

With experience as a guide, choosing to stay at uber-cheap, packed-to-the-brim party hostels can be hit or miss. While perhaps considered a rite of passage by some, the modern travel industry offers more quality lodging options than ever before. The $2 hostel is pretty outdated. When considering accommodations, there's a few things to keep in mind: the type of hostel, its cost, and its location.

A cheap party hostel isn't inherently bad. They can actually be lots of fun, but the facilities are often loud, loose, and marginally clean. If you can handle the atmosphere, awesome! Bring a lock and earplugs. Just remember, if the hostel is very cheap, they're profiting from a high volume of bodies in beds, tours, booze, and possibly food. Don't expect towel swans or pillow chocolates. 

If you don't want to share a room with 30 people (but want to share the party pool and bar crawls), then consider spending up for the six-person or four-person dorm room. It may be $5 more expensive per night, but you'll probably sleep more comfortably.  

However, it's important to keep in mind that very cheap hostels can attract seedier individuals. And cheap hostels far off-the-beaten tourist track may double as local crash pads or serve as cheap, long-term accommodations that supplement their incomes. According to Hostelgeeks, their number one safety tip is to stay in a hostel in a secure location. This can ensure your hostel only caters to like-minded travelers. 

Pay up for official, regulated services

Along with accommodations, be diligent when it comes to daily activities. Most authenticated tours are reasonably priced, as competition is fierce, so it's a good idea to stick to popular, advertised tours. Same with transportation. In many places, you'll have the option to choose a licensed and regulated taxi or tuk-tuk service. Always choose regulated services when possible.

Keep in mind that unregulated services abound, creating things like the Roman soldier scams in Rome and meterless cabs in Prague. By sticking to regulated, official services (even if more expensive), you can better avoid scams. And if you do get scammed, don't argue too hard about it. It's just not worth the risk.

Food is something else we need to mention. Cheap street food is one of the world's greatest gifts. But there's a line between being open-minded and being sick. According to the Food and Drug Administration, traveler's diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment, and it can quickly derail your experience.

In most cases, thoroughly cooked food will be fine, but when items are unbelievably cheap, consider why. Often, super marked-down food items are typically "on the way out" food items.

Overall, do your research, read guest reviews for accommodations, and if you get the heebie-jeebies in a situation, then trust your instincts, use common sense, and never sell your safety for a few bucks.