Saudi Arabia recently became open to tourists from far and wide. While traveling to Saudi is becoming more common and easier, it is not so easy on the pockets. Saudi Arabia is not a cheap tourist attraction. This makes it compulsory for potential tourists to plan perfectly before embarking on their journey to Saudi Arabia. Having made your budget, you can't be sure of staying within the budget. You need to have some strategies to help you avoid wasteful spending or excess spending.
Here are some tips that will help you save money while going to and during your stay in Saudi Arabia.
• Budget with research
When you know where you're going, it will be easier to take measures to make the journey easier.
Firstly, you should know how much you have to spend, plus a provision for miscellaneous expenses. The point of providing for miscellaneous expenses is to ascertain your highest budget.
Having known how much you're expecting to spend, you should categorize your potential expenditure. Starting from the unavoidable expenses like flight and accommodation expenses, you should divide your budget.
This will help you plan the adventures you can afford with what you have left. This way, you already know those activities you won't be engaging in even before traveling. You can search online to have a clear idea of these expenses.
Furthermore, you could also list out the attractions you want to visit and their locations. Then group them according to their cities. This will help you arrange your movement.
• Traveling to Saudi Arabia on a budget.
While you may come across different suggestions for traveling to Saudi Arabia via neighboring countries, they are not viable. Whether passing Jordan or Dubai, these suggestions are not cost-effective. The routes are also complicated, especially when you are not used to those areas. It may even end up being more expensive than going through the normal way.
The usual conventional way is your surest option. From whichever country you are coming to, you could easily get an e-Visa and take a flight to Saudi Arabia. The e-Visa gives you the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia as many times as you want within a year. Although it is not the cheapest Visa to get, it surely serves its purpose perfectly.
When it comes to spending less money on traveling to Saudi Arabia, booking your flight in advance is advisable. You tend to save a reasonable amount of money when you book your flight weeks before you travel. This secures you against inflation. It is also advisable to look out for less expensive flights- in the end, you get the same service.
• Accommodation and feeding on a budget.
Accommodation tends to drain your pocket quickly in Saudi Arabia. As a country that is just opening up its gates to tourists, there are not many plans to make accommodation affordable for tourists.
Staying in a middle-class hotel can cost you up to 300 SAR($80) per night in major cities like Riyadh and Jeddah. If you’re not around these cities, you may have to pay more per night. It is worthy of note that the rating you see online is not the way it is interpreted the way you do outside Saudi Arabia. While an average hotel has a 3-star rating in Central Europe or America, the same kind of hotel will get a 1-star rating in Saudi Arabia. So you may want to go to the hotel physically to know what type of hotel you’re selecting.
Looking for an affordable hotel is one way of saving money. There are several hotels with basic amenities that are not so expensive. However, this is not the cheapest option. Especially if you are in a city where hotels are very expensive like Jazan and Abha, there are cheaper options.
You can camp on the road. This is safe and also free of charge. There are various camping spots off the road where you can sleep without having to deal with any disturbance. Camping around a prayer place is even safer. As long as you are not outrightly violating any law by camping around a restricted area, you will be fine. However, if the weather is harsh, you will be unable to camp by the road.
Another viable and tenable option is couch surfing. It involves staying with the natives. This is also a free option as you don’t have to pay the homeowners. An added advantage is the ease of blending with the natives. You could get directions and basic tips from the natives that are accommodating you. Whether you are a man or a woman, you can couch surf. However, you should not forget to check reviews on the application. Furthermore, you should take extra caution if you are a female tourist traveling alone when couch surfing with males.
As regards feeding, here is the key: the fancier the place, the more you pay. This applies to every type of edible, including a bottle of water. Eating street food is the cheapest option for tourists.
• Transportation on a budget.
The unavailability of public transport is a major setback when it comes to moving around Saudi Arabia. As a very large country, transportation by air is very common within the country. The cost of flights between cities is not so expensive, compared to the cost of traveling by bus or train. When you book your flight in advance, you could pay as low as 150 SAR($40) to fly from Riyadh to Jeddah.
Car hire is another affordable option as petrol is cheap in Saudi Arabia. However, due to the fact that you have to drive yourself, the unfamiliar Arabian roads may be quite a challenge.
While getting a train ticket is also affordable, trains do not travel so frequently. So if you have to move at a particular time, you may be stranded if you rely on getting a train.
Traveling by bus is more reliable as the buses travel more frequently. More importantly, they are cheaper and also comfortable.
It is essential for you to go to attractions in the same area on the same day so that you don't waste money by going to the same place at different times.