General Travel Advice
Why Frugal Budget Travel? I Love it!
For my vacations, travels and journeys, I don’t consider them frugal. From my point of view, I am a wise, practical traveler but Kate says I am frugal. It’s true, I am a person who is practical and finds the best way to spend my money. Not everyone wants to spend a lot of money when traveling. I think my advice is for those travelers who think of themselves as frugal budget travelers. So why frugal budget travel? I love frugal budget travel and so do lots of other travelers.
Why I Love Frugal Budget Travel
We believe to see as much of the world as possible, we have to be frugal. I do understand that not everyone likes budget travel. I understand the hostels can get trying very quickly. However, sometimes when you travel frugally, you meet some fascinating characters. But regardless, I want to trek as much as I can and to meet as many local people as possible. There is one issue I do need to plan for when it comes to my travel. The one issue I have when it comes to travel is my mom, who is 93. So because I provide emotional support to her, I limit my trips to two weeks so that I can be involved in her life. Still, I travel all the time and wish I could trek even more! I believe I have outgrown hostels, therefore I am beginning to warm up to hotels at least on my last night.
When Kate asked me about frugal travel, I told her, I loved it and explained, if you plan wisely and behave smartly you will be able to take more trips. Taking more trips is the name of my game. So, here is what I told her. Hopefully, my recommendations will help make the best travel experiences for you and keeps you on your budget.
How to Plan Your Trip
Know what you want to do before you go. Even Pee Wee thought about this before his Great Adventure. Is it hiking? Swimming? Museums? Whatever it is, use that as a theme. Get a couple of travel books on your destination from the library. Decide what you want to do. Upon arrival, always visit the tourism information office. You might discover something you didn’t know about yourself! Travel the way you want to and don’t do it the way anyone else wants you to do because you need to be comfortable. One of my rules is I never take taxis unless it’s an emergency. And I had one of those in Panama. Otherwise, I stick to the frugal budget way of doing things.
Tips and Tricks
Baggage and Luggage
It constrains and binds. Roller bags, steamer trunks, and suitcases don’t work for me.
Plan your transport to the airport from your home. Want to hack the official home to airport transfer costs? You don’t have to take a taxi or an airporter. Or park at the airport, it’s too much money. Here’s how I do it. I take a local bus near my crash pad to downtown–cost: $1.75. I then transfer to a train which takes me directly to the airport. Cost: $3.00. One hour later and $4.75 spent, I’m at the aerodrome (airport)!
Luggage doesn’t work for me. Give me a backpack. Backpacks significantly increase your mobility and simplify your trip. Extra bag fees, overweight charges, and hiring public transport with luggage increases costs and your stress level. I can live out of a 26-liter backpack indefinitely anywhere in the world. For colder destinations, I’ll use a larger pack, but I still use the bag as a carry-on and have no luggage issues.
If I walk into a hostel with a backpack on, I have a better chance of getting an upgrade or a lower room rate during the off-season. Why? I’m just a backpacker. I don’t have any money. Arrive by taxi with three or four bags and you’re expected to pay the going rate.
Once you get to your destination, do the same thing–look for local transport. On my trip to Panama, I paid fifty cents to get from Tocumen Airport to downtown Panama City. The established taxi fare from the airport to downtown there is $35.oo. Buses are not allowed into the arrivals area. You have to work to get the savings. I walked about twenty minutes to find the bus station. If you’re loaded down with traditional luggage, grabbing this Panama bus is not an option.
Backpackers in the know use packing cubes. You arrive at your hostel and pull out the cubes. Throw on an empty pack, and you have an instant shopping bag to carry your food, lunch, dinner, etc.
Stay in hostels. The term hostel and hotel are used interchangeably today in Europe. If you book a room in an actual hostel, you can save big. Reserve a room in a dormitory, or upgrade to a private room. I book hostels on HostelWorld.com. Buy a travel towel. You’ll save another $5 USD by not having to rent a towel.
Eat two meals a day. Many hostels offer a free breakfast. Load up. Have a late lunch, and skip dinner. In prosperous economies like Norway and Iceland, the savings add up. This was an inexpensive meal, that looked ok, but, tasted salty and was my least favorite meal.
Use airline ticket consolidators, like Kayak.com. Another good site to consider is Skyscanner.com. Tickets are cheap, but you have to endure twenty-four to forty hour travel time itineraries. Recently, I got an airlines reward card. Even though I pay a little more for a ticket, my miles are building fast. Use consolidators for your in-country travel.
Use Merino wool clothing (shirts, socks, underwear). For pants, get nylon. It packs light and requires less washing and is anti-microbial. You can wear a shirt for three days and not smell like a goat. Use your bathroom sink to wash clothes. I use Woolite liquid soap packets. Merino wool and nylon dry quickly.
Fill up your water bottle before leaving the airport. You’ll save, especially in Norway. Interestingly, the airports in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Bodo, Norway, are devoid of drinking fountains.
The cover shot or feature photo for this post is about shipping. Shipping can sometimes save you money. If you have something big, or it needs to stay fresh, or you are buying a gift for yourself or a friend, ship it home. The reason I suggest this is because It’s better than carrying it.
Use Local Transportation
Buses are not always the cheapest way. In Norway for example, it’s cheaper to take a commuter train from the airport.
Disadvantages of Frugal Budget Travel
You might be labeled a stick in the mud. That’s okay. You’re going to sweat more. And work a little harder. But the savings are the reward, and nothing in life is free.
I believe it’s what you see and who you meet that makes a great trip!
Travel tip: Travel slowly. Enjoy the moment. Fast is not good when traveling. I’ve traveled fast and even though you get a good overview of the destinations, you miss the moments you’ll experience when you stay awhile.
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