Tips on becoming a budget traveler

Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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Tips on becoming a budget traveler

We've taken a couple of big trips including our recent honeymoon and have come to the realization that to travel more often(Europe as well as the US) we will have to join the budget travel movement. I'm 39 she is 36. I known there are a lot of people on this site that offer some amazing travel advice and travel ideas, so take us to school and help us become budget travelers. Happy Holidays to all.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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Lots of people have different ideas about what is meant by budget travel. What do you think it means?
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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The first thing I do, I look for the best reviews on Trip Advisor for lower priced hotels. I don't need a #1 hotel, or #10 - but I don't like to spend more than $100.00 or so a night on hotels (unless it's something special for a couple of nights, which we've done the past couple of years). And I like something nice - not fancy, but clean and homey when I can. Bed and Breakfasts can be a good value.

Grocery stores are great sources of souvenirs (tea, chocolates, etc.) Also of food to buy.

Book your tickets - airline, train, etc. early. Well, you never know on the airlines, but you do get better deals on trains and such if you book them when availability opens up.

I research a lot for the best deals.

Mostly what I've mentioned is for Europe. We've taken two trips on a fair budget, we could have done it a little cheaper but we could have spent much, much more. We add tours and such (like an inner circle tour of Stonehenge) that cost a bit more.

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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Hi Sg,

As noted, what's your budget?

Are you looking to stay in hostels and convents, eat at pizza stands and look at the outside of museums?

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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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For me, the most important point for budget travel is airline tickets Yes, also accomodation but I don't know why, I find much easier to find a suitable hotel price than a suitable flight price
What I think one should do (I'm from Spain, but I think it works out from any place) it is booking flights well in advance for a given destination..or if you don't mind where to go..you can book very last minute( a week or less) and find amazing bargains (but you don't have many to choose from).
You have to decide on the money you want to spend and stick to it (more or less). My budget for hotels is 100 euros maximum per night. 120 euros in London or Paris to the very maximum.
If you spend time enough on searching you can have pretty good offers for that price. But you have to do the homework
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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1. Grocery stores are your friend.

2. Seek out free entertainment and local events and participate in non-guidebook no-cost activities. Street performers, church or school pagents, firemen's fundraising BBQ, outdoor concerts, etc.

3. With a little research find 2/3-star hotels that are very nice.

4. Ask the day and place of the nearest open air street market, for purchasing great food but also for entertainment.

5. Use public transportation.

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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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In 1990, after two trips to Europe, we dicided that 1) European travel was an all-time favorite for us and 2) we couldn't afford to travel often in the style of our first two trips. So we became budget travelers. At that time, a few years before the advent of the Web, it meant searching guide books for cheap but charming hotels and restaurants (the Fodor guides red stars was one reliable source for these), and spending a lot of time looking for travel bargains in newspaper travel sections and guides. This meant no hotels over $100 (preferably under) and no or very few splurge meals. This was my part of travel planning, and I came to find that I enjoyed it. I was able to find a good number of truly charming hotels and B&Bs--nicer than the higher priced US-style hotels that we'd stayed at before. The same was true for restaurants (although I'm a gourmand rather than a gourmet). We also stayed relatively flexible, changing plans if good flight deals became available, and comparison shopped for travel costs within Europe. Finally, we occasionally took shorter trips.

My wife's side of travel planning was to include a travel line in our budget and make sure that we lived by it. Oh, she also had to take on faith my "finds," most but not all of which were successful.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Ira, it is really just a general question. I was just looking to read peoples personal ideas and experiences of how they go about planning a trip with a budget and actually sticking to it. I'm not talking about sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag and eating Ramen Pride noodles when I refer to budget travel, and apart from the obvious of not staying in a $300 a night hotel I was interested in some of the excellent tips and ideas that avid travelers use to continually travel without going broke.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:30 AM
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Oh, Ira, for years I've been reading Fodor's threads, but this is the first time I see "the pearl" of looking at the outside of museums LOL After all, your friends at home will never know

You can also walk along a river instead of a boat tour... just a thought
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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I love this site.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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Faina- my son tops that - he's French but seems little interested in anything when touring Europe except food and drink. He came back from his first visit to Rome - just passing thru for a day en route from Greece and i asked him if he say the Colosseum, Forum, etc. He said no, but he and his girlfriend had seen the postcards of them in the train station kiosk!
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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My best idea is to travel during the off season.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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My wife & I spend 2 months in France most years. The only way we can afford to do this is to stay in Gites (houses) for 2 weeks at a time (minimum is 1 week). Gites rent anywhere from 350 to 650E per week - depending on location & amenities. All Gites have had kitchens, living/dining rooms, muntiple bedrooms, sometimes multiple baths, garden, & sometimes private pools. We pick up a roast chicken, vegetables, etc at the local farmers or food market & "eat in" quite often. We always have breakfast & often lunch at the Gite.

When we stay in a hotel, we find the least epensive one listed in the Red Michelin Guide. Most hotels charge way too much for a bread, coffee, & juice for breakfast. We never have breakfast at a hotel - we pick up a croissant & coffee at a local cafe instead.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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That is pretty funny, I never thought of that. Better yet, don't even go, and just buy some postcards or photos to look at.

I don't really think anyone needs any magical tips, as the way to travel more cheaply is pretty basic. You book cheaper hotels and eat cheaper meals and don't buy a lot of stuff. That's pretty much it, it's real obviously advice.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:39 AM
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"Budget travel" means different things to different folks, sometimes including different levels of price tolerance for various parts of travel. When I was younger it was nothing to endure a long flight in cramped coach seats, but now that I am a bit (ahem) more seasoned and less tolerant of travel stress - and have more funds (and FF miles) to spend - I often go for upgraded seating. Airline loyalty has paid off for me, as has preference for travel in the shoulder season. On other things I am more parsimonious. While I do enjoy a posh hotel, I still assign more value to seeing the place I am visiting than where I am sleeping and bathing, so use specifications like clean, comfortable and conveniently located moreso than full marble bathrooms and high end toiletries when selecting a hotel. In terms of eating, though I relish fabulous food I have come to accept that not every meal needs to be at a Michelin rated establishment, and enjoy eating where the locals do while still indulging in a meal or two at a special place. One thing that has proven quite useful is renting a short term apartment. Though there may be cheaper hotels, on balance it is a good value. I usually don't get into a lot of cooking, but being able to have coffee and breakfast "at home" is quite nice, as is an evening with a bottle of wine and some local cheese as an alternative to a restaurant meal - usually cheaper, too. While not an absolute requirement, the availability of a clothes washing machine allows for lighter packing, which also makes travel easier. Internet access is quite nice, too, though availability varies with destination, and it is not a deal breaker, especially in places with plenty of internet cafes.
I use this board extensively to gather advice from fellow travelers, and also do some broader internet searching.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Mammoth savings can come on when you go as well as where you go...

Off-season travel, Oct-March can see airfares literally several hundred bucks cheaper and hotels in your price choice much more readily available, whereas in peak season you often have to pay top dollar.

Where you go...Greece, Portugal are cheapest and seems farther north you go the more expensive life becomes - shockingly so in Scandinavia!

Big cities like London are much more expensive on food and lodging than smaller towns.

Railpasses can save money on a wide-ranging trip as it caps the amount you'll spend on transportation. I usually recommend for understanding the rail system BETS' European Planning & Rail Guide, free at www.budgeteuropetravel.com - it's loaded with rail tips and also things like changing money, packing, etc. - and check out www.ricksteves.com for similar info.

And lots of folks spend lots of moolah on things like cafes - which are a pleasure but also can cost $4-5 per cup of mocca. Restaurants are great but mix in some picnicking with stuff from ubiquitous supermarkets.

Reserve your hotels online to lock in a good price - otherwise you may be in a take it or leave situation and pay a lot more for less on the spot.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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I agree with Christina, there is no magic trick involved. Stay in cheaper hotels, eat in cheaper restaurants & don't buy stuff sums it up

Only YOU can determine your budget, what is budget prices to one person may be high end to another. You need to be explicit about budget.

You can certainly stay in apartments in many places (but don't go for luxury apts) and save money by eating some meals in. You can do without wine (or even Coke/Pepsi, etc.) when eating out. You can buy take out from grocery stores and eat in a park. You can fly off-season to save some money .. there is an endless list but only you can determine how you want to do it tho.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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I would name it "how to travel on a budget in a not so budget way". Or "how to make the most of your money". As Christina says, real budget travel is plain easy
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:47 AM
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<<I don't really think anyone needs any magical tips, as the way to travel more cheaply is pretty basic.>>

I would agree if the only things we were talking about was making a trip cost less money.

BUT I think there are all kinds of great insider tips for making it cheaper WITHOUT sacrificing quality. To make it less expensive but just as much, or even MORE fun and exciting than a high priced trip... now THAT is the goal imo!!!!
;-)
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:49 AM
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As some have mentioned, there are many different types and degrees of budget traveler. I for example, could not afford 100E/night for accomodation.

-Because I like long travel, the country and its exchange rate plays a role in my selection process. I can't afford the pound for example so England isn't going to make it to the top of my must see's list.

-I put together an overview on the computer. As I go through my guidebook, I note what there is to do and see in each city/town and exactly how much each attraction is. In addition to transportation costs to and from and of course what budget accomodation is available. This lets me know how long I can reasonably afford to travel and gives me my budget template.

-I find it handy to choose a "base" where there is good budget accomodation and public transportation connections, then day-trip to surrounding towns.

-It is all about choices as a budget traveler. I sacrifice nicer accomodations for scuba diving or other hobby activities. I never cheap or skimp on sites as that is what I'm in the country to see. However, you could choose to skip a few sites to eat at more nice restaurants if that is where your interest lies.

-public transportation is indeed your friend (and will sometimes I'm sure be your foe).

-I like to eat out. Lunch can be a good time to eat at an expensive restaruant as they often have a cheaper lunch menu. Then you can always have a small dinner. Grocery stores have already been mentioned - my friends who are even more strictly budget travelers than myself are committed to grocery stores and food stands. Like I said - its all about choices.

-Flying into and out of the same city can often be cheaper. Look for seat sales to surrounding cities or capitals than the one you have planned - once your in Europe you can always train to where you want to be - just check out whether the savings (and time) is worth it.

Good Travels,

Murphy
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