Budget Travel Tips: Tourism Boards are Awesome!

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For us, travel is all about the experience – whether it’s dining out, chatting with locals, participating in cultural experiences, or unique and exciting activities.  Being a budget traveler doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your travel experience.  Our first recommendation for finding low-cost or free activities at a destination is to check out official tourism board offices or websites.

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Enjoying the free nightly laser show in Hong Kong. One of the many FREE things to do here!

While some of the activities they offer will be less then unique (or authentic), you can still find valuable information for your trip such as city maps / guides, as well as downloadable content for your mobile devices.  In fact, most of these tourism office websites will have entire sections devoted to free or inexpensive activities, so they are a great resource that you shouldn’t overlook!

Not every tourism board is created equal, but over the years we have discovered some some pretty great ones.  Dublin, Ireland has a fantastic tourism office right in the city center.  Their website also has a variety of items you can download to your mobile devices for free.  Hong Kong is another great example.  With an awesome website and helpful on-site location, they provide a wealth of information as well as a wide range of low-cost and free activities for visitors.

Hong Kong’s “Cultural Kaleidoscope” program allows visitors to participate in classes including Tea Appreciation, Tai Chi, Feng Shui, Cantonese Opera, etc. all FREE of charge!  They even have a free Chinese Junk Boat ride that you can take of the harbor on certain days.  The classes are amazing, and you can’t beat the price!

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We stumbled across a parade to celebrate the harvest – city center of Florence, Italy.

Tourism board websites are also a great travel planning resource because they typically have a calendar of events such as festivals, concerts, parades, etc.  Many of these local events are free and are a great way to mingle with the locals and soak up their culture.  For example, in late September / early October Italy’s Tuscany region celebrates the harvest season with all kinds of festivals.  Being in these small villages eating and drinking with the locals is an awesome experience.  You may even be able to participate in some of the harvesting activities and learn about making wine.

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Strolling through Venice, Italy and admiring the gorgeous colors and canals. Completely Free activity, and one of the most fun things to do in the city!

So regardless what kind of traveler you are, whether you like to run with the crowd or blaze your own trail, tourism boards are great resources that should not be overlooked.  With a bit of advanced planning and research, you will be surprised at how much you can find to do at your travel destination that costs you little-to-nothing.

Examples of awesome tourism board websites:

Do you have any to add to this list?  Please share in the comments below!

 

6 thoughts on “Budget Travel Tips: Tourism Boards are Awesome!”

  1. Awesome! It’s always good to remember the tourism boards, yet can be so easy to forget that they’re there. You could maybe add discoverlosangeles.com on there as a good starter for things to do. =)

    1. Thanks Nicole!

      I’ve been to LA many times when I was growing up out West, but haven’t recently checked out their website. Great idea – we may be heading out that direction sometime soon, so we will definitely look them up!

      Cheers!
      – Liz & Josh

  2. You guys are so right saying that being a budget traveler doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your travel experience :):). What I would add to the list is Couchsurfing. Have you ever heard of it? You are hosted by locals, shown around and it’s a great opportunity to see the place from a different perspective, not as a tourist but as a local.

    1. Thanks you Agness! We are actually members of Couchsurfing. We’ve browsed a number of times and connected with people, but it hasn’t worked out for us to try it yet. It is definitely something that we will be looking into again soon. I’ve heard it’s an awesome way to meet others and get some local flavor along with your visit!

      Thanks for the comment – happy travels!

      – Liz & Josh

  3. If I have time to plan a trip, checking out a tourism board is one of my steps. I used to contact them to have brochures mailed to me, but haven’t done that in awhile. It’s hard to break, but the old-school journalist in me still likes to hold a guidebook or map in my hand. Our upcoming trip to New Mexico will be the first I’ve taken since childhood without some sort of printed guidebook or brochures. And actually I’ve had a driving tours of New Mexico book I bought at a used bookstore that I’ve thumbed through for ideas.

    1. Yeah, it can be hard to break the habit of printed material. That’s the whole reason we got our iPad was to download electronic materials, but we kept finding ourselves feeling like we needed some kind of book anyway! When I was in college, I had an internship with a tourism board in Idaho — and a couple days a week I would have to put together all the brochures and mail out to people as requested. 🙂

      Have fun in New Mexico!
      – Liz

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