Budget Hack – Audio Guides


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If you’re traveling on a budget, but don’t want to miss out on local commentary, then you’ll want to use our budget hack – audio guides. You’ll save a huge amount of money, but not miss out on information that sometimes makes an attraction come alive.

What do you do when you arrive at a tourist attraction and want to find our more? It’s history, uses, who built it, who lived there?

The Lonely Planet rarely has enough detail. Neither do Rough Guides or Insight Guides. So when you arrive at a tourist attraction or Unesco site you have three options.

  1. Wander around aimlessly looking at the building and objects that have little to no signage, that even when it is there is only vaguely comprehensible or comprehensive, coming away feeling as though you’ve missed something.
  2. Pay the fee for a human guide and either get a great guy (face it, there are so few women tourist guides you can count them on the fingers of one hand) or you get someone who you can barely understand who points to an ornate arch and says “window, you want photo?” and then who rushes you around in under the agreed time, spending the last 15 minutes hassling you for more money or baksheesh.
  3. You take an audio guide and trust that as it’s all been prerecorded its presumably been checked and verified by at least someone who knows what they’re talking about. And always it’s spoken in an accent that you can understand.

We’re traveling on a budget, and as a couple, but that doesn’t mean we want to cut off our nose to spite our face.  We’re here to learn about places, so the first bullet point above doesn’t apply.  If we’re shelling out money to see a place we want to find out about it.

We rarely take a human guide, because they tend to be expensive, especially if there are just two of you.  Plus they rarelywander around with their own TripAdvisor scores attached to them, so I’m never quite sure what I’m getting.  Additionally, unless I’ve done previous research I’m never quite sure if what they’re saying is a myth or reality. A lot of the time we struggle with local accents too.

That leaves us with the audio guide.   But again they’re expensive – for instance at the City Palace Museum in Udaipur, the ticket to get in is 250 INR.  The audio guide costs 250 INR per unit.  Now don’t get me started on the fee to use a camera (250 INR), because I’ll probably get violent in the process.

How to Save Money on Audio Guides

This is our budget travel hack for Audio Guides

Budget Travel Hack – Audio Guides-5781

Yep.  Just  this. It’s just a simple Y Splitter.

And of course, headphones.  Which you probably already have.

Budget Travel Hack – Audio Guides-5780

Don’t Ever Share Rented Earphones!

My standards of hygiene may have changed in the last 10 months while we’ve been on the road.  But they do not and never will involve sticking shared ear buds into my ears.  Neither do they include using the foam headphones that close to my inner ear and hair.

Aside from an attempt to maintain hygiene, this splitter and our iphone headphones save us the cost of an audio guide.

Nowhere, not a single time in 10 months onthe road have we seen a sign saying “one audio guide per person”.   So we remove their headphones, plug in our splitter and walk around tied together.

Heck we have a mortgage together,  the earphones are easy compared to that.  And of course their usage contributes towards paying the mortgage..

You can buy the splitter from any electronics store, ebay, amazon.  And if you use it for JUST ONE AUDIO GUIDE then you’ll likely recoup the cost.  In a single day. And of course you can also watch movies together on your laptop too…  You can find out more details about how we select technology for travels in our post here.

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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