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finding the budget sweet spot for traveling

finding the budget sweet spot for traveling

Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:40 AM
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finding the budget sweet spot for traveling

In planning for future trips to Europe I'm coming round to the idea of the "budget sweet spot" which implies getting good travel value for one's spending, but avoiding diminishing marginal returns. My idea is to not skimp on special unique things to see, such as interesting castles, gardens, villas, museums etc, nor forgoing extra transportation costs to get there. On the other hand, at home my wife and I live frugally and are content with that lifestyle. We don't enjoy extra luxuries, being pampered etc in the US and I don't think we'd get that much enjoyment out of it in Europe either.
For that reason, I think it would make sense for us to go for lower cost accommodations, such as a week long apartment rental with kitchen facilities in some places, and focus on eating at cheaper, but still authentic places, when we don't cook at "home". We also don't drink alcohol at home and I have no interest in drinking it abroad.
The other big budget question is where to go. I like the idea of subbing Austria for Switzerland, and spending time in Croatia and Hungary. I still have fond memories of my last trip to Hungary in 1989, where travel costs were basically close to nothing. I realize things are different now, but prices still look pretty attractive. Wandering around the old Hapsburg empire seems like a good budget travel decision with lots to see and experience.
So, my overall idea is as follows. Don't skimp on seeing the attractions of an area, do skimp on the extras that won't enhance (for my wife and I at any rate) the overall experience. Would like to hear from others on this budget travel philosophy.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:44 AM
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Sounds like common sense to me.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 07:54 AM
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We found ours a long time ago. It has to do with the simple fact that time is running out for us so as far as we are concerned, every trip is good value for money these days.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 08:15 AM
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I think you have it figured out. Everyone's sweet spot is different, of course, and you may find it changes over time. I used to say that I slept cheap so I could eat well, but on my upcoming trip I'm spending a bit more (mostly to get AC in July and August, plus a parador in Spain) so I may be eating cheaply to sleep well. However, my "more expensive" accommodation is still a lot of people's budget - two to three star hotels, pensions, guesthouses, etc.

Austria and Hungary are both great destinations - I was just there again last year - as are places like Romania, Macedonia, Slovenia etc. etc. If you're thinking of Budapest I can highly recommend the apartments I used on my last two trips.

See: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...g-in-budapest/

and: http://budapestvacationrentals.com/S...n_Rentals.html
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 08:26 AM
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In asdition to the Eastern European countries, both Greece and Portugal offer very good value. Your travel philosophy sounds well thought out and workable. Enjoy your travels!
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 08:41 AM
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Whatever works for you, but since I often travel solo, your strategy would not be cost effective for me. Apartments are more expensive than hotel rooms, for example. And the idea that you must stay in expensive hotels isn't true, so you can stay cheaper in budget hotels than in apartments, and it is a whole lot easier to arrange and there aren't as many stipulations.

The rest of your stuff is basically my normal behavior, never thought of it as a strategy, but since I don't go to expensive restaurants at home, it wouldn't occur to me to do it on vacation, either.
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 08:42 AM
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If that works for you - fine. And Central Europe will probably be more budget friendly than western europe.

Would not work for us - since our time off is very limited. So we just enjoy ourselves without focusing on the budget. We do try to get good prices, but for definitely comfortable central properties, nice dinners with wine and little luxuries along the way (always taxis to and fro airports for example).
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Old Jun 11th, 2015, 08:48 AM
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I travel solo, and it's not always true that apartments are more expensive than hotel rooms. Depends on the city, the apartments and the hotel. I mostly stay in pensions and guesthouses and B&Bs, but I am doing three apartments on my upcoming trip, and the Budapest apartments I linked above are a good value even for a solo traveler.

I am using AirBnB for apartments on my next trip, which makes booking and paying much easier, and am staying solo in apartments in Pau and Barcelona. None of the hotels in Pau seemed very attractive, and Barcelona was just plain expensive. In Oslo I will be sharing an apartment with my sister, and expect to save considerable money on food, which is reported to be extremely expensive there.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 02:43 PM
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We go though a lot of the same process in our planning. I know the hotel star system is supposed to tell you that a 4 star is better than a 3 star, however, I have found that the stars are awarded for different things in different countries. In some places the difference between a 2 star and a 4 star is whether the hotel has a lobby bar or a concierge. You have to judge whether those things are important to you or if you are really looking for a clean room where you have room to open your suitcase. Are you willing to pay extra to have tiny bottles of shampoo?

I have also explored apartments and maybe I'm not doing it right but the per-night cost of the apartments in the cities where I have looked seen to be higher than the per-night 3 star hotel rate where someone makes my bed for me, and frequently they throw in breakfast.

I break our budgeting into 1) Transportation, 2) Accommodations, 3) Food and 4) Fun. I'm like you, I don't want to come home wishing I had borne the expense for the fun part of it.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 07:04 PM
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I think we are relatively careful regarding our budget but are OK with occasional splurges like dinner at a well regarded restaurant (not necessarily a fancy place but one with a good reputation.) We do find we prefer more creature comforts than we used to: a comfortable bed, ensuite bathroom facilities, AC facilities where it is likely to be warm and a central location are more important to us than they used to be.

My husband and I have always regretted not taking a train in Switzerland to a beautiful viewpoint because of the cost. We had spent so much money to travel to Switzerland and then decided to be frugal once we were there. Granted, our budget was extremely tight then but there are times when we are weighing whether or not to spend a bit more money than usual and we tell ourselves: think of Switzerland.
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