By JESSIE CHIANG.
So you’re in Spain’s capital and you’re ready to explore, but the New Zealand dollar sucks against the Euro and you’re trying to save as much as you can… what’s the best way to do it? Over the summer, I spent two months working in Madrid and along the way, I gained some wisdom about saving cash. Here’s some of it.
#1. Use the metro
Madrid’s metro system is honestly one of the most efficient I’ve ever used. I’ve never gone wrong with it and can 100% trust all the metro signs and directions. With 12 lines and even more regional trains, I lost count of all the times I hopped onto the metro to get to a destination. It is very well priced too; unlimited rides for just €20 a month if you are under 26.
The application process for a metro card is tricky, though – and you need a physical address for the card to get sent to. I would only recommend this option if you are looking to work or study on a permanent basis in Madrid.
For those only looking to stay a couple of days, the Madrid Tourist Travel Pass is a great alternative. You can buy it directly at the metro station at the airport and you won’t need to pay the entrance and exit fee.
Whether you are staying for three days or forty, definitely invest in a metro map – it comes in very handy!
#2. Get a Spanish sim and data
Perhaps this isn’t so important if you are only stopping by for a few days, but if you’re anything like me, this is something you should consider. I am someone who can’t tell right from left and so I desperately needed Google Maps. This meant I needed data. At Orange, a Spanish sim and a month of 3G was only €15. To top up the next month cost me just €5.
#3. Bring your student ID card
A lot of places in Madrid have discounts for students and even a foreign ID card will also do the trick! For example, Madrid’s famous Museo del Prado allows free entry for those under 18 and students aged 18 to 25. You’ve left your ID card at home, you say? Never fear, I did exactly the same thing, but because I had purchased data I could log onto my university website and show them that I was a student. I also whipped out my driver’s license to prove that the names matched and they had visual proof of what I looked like. It’s more of a hassle, but I still got that student discount.
#4. Eat lots of tapas
Sharing food is the way to go! I found this a lot cheaper than purchasing singular items for myself and if you are in Spain, you HAVE to try some sort of tapas anyway.
#5. Want to buy Real Madrid tickets? Bring a cash passport card
Ok, so this isn’t really a way to save…but it’s something you should know if you are planning to go to a Real Madrid game. FOREIGN CREDIT CARDS DON’T WORK. Believe me, I’ve felt the pain of this. The only way you can buy them online is using a cash passport card. Basically it’s a card which you load cash onto in the currency you so desire. The only other way to buy tickets is to head to the actual stadium and buy them in person.
#6. Free activities
There are a lot of things you can do for free in Madrid, so make sure you do a little research. These include El Retiro – a beautiful park to take a stroll through, visiting the Palacio de Cristal, going to Plaza de Mayor – Madrid’s main square, and checking out the Sunday morning markets in La Latina.
#7. Get insurance and don’t get sick
So I came down with something and it got bad enough that I had to go to the doctors while I was in Madrid… bad move. Foreign healthcare expenses are astronomically high and I had to shell out €80 for a consultation. If the worst happens though and you do need to see a doctor, try HM Hospitales, they have translators on hand and appointments can be made via email. The hospital made it really easy to claim for insurance as well so that’s definitely something worth thinking about!
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