Wednesday, February 28, 2024


Frugal Transportation Leaves More For Sleeping & Eating Like You Mean It!

The focus of this post is finding unique places to sleep that don't break the bank. But travel costs include more than that cool little cabin on the river for $90 euro a night. Transportation to your favorite locale and then getting from where you are to where you want to be is also a significant part of your travel budget. Getting there and getting around frugally can be daunting, but here are some thoughts to help you plan your next big adventure.
  • Planes. Flying is the largest single expense for any vacation, particularly if it is abroad. As in many things in life, timing is everything. You have to be an obsessive deal shopper when making plane reservations. I recommend you begin tracking fares at least six months prior to departure. I have found fares begin to drop significantly around four months out. Also, make certain that you subscribe to all major airlines Email lists to get their weekly or daily deals for specific destinations. Another factor affecting flying costs is departure and arrival cities. We live near Tallahassee International Airport. Back in the day, we never flew out of Tallahassee. We flew out of Jacksonville which is an easy two-hour drive for us. It had many more choices and competitive prices both in the US and Europe. Today, however, departing from my hometown is reasonable. Always check convenient multiple departure cities and arrival cities to get the best price. And finally, take advantage of Rewards Credit Cards. We use American Express Skymiles Card on virtually everything we buy to get points. We haven't bought a plane ticket in years.
  • Trains. Train travel in Europe is simply one of the most enjoyable ways to travel and tends to be the cheapest way for long and short distances. For everything you need to know about train travel check out Rick Steves' Europe Web Site. He gives numerous details for every option for train travel on the continent.
  • Automobiles. Sometimes, only a car will get you where you want to go. The choices for rental cars from downright cheap to ridiculous are all over the internet. I just found a cool little Fiat Panda from the Florence Airport for $24.00 a day on PRICELINE. Also, if you're going to be in a large city for a few days, you may not even need a rental car. With UBER or LYFT at your disposal, you can go anywhere for little cost.

 Eating, Drinking & Being Merry On The Cheap

This aspect of travel is the most intensely personal. What, where and how much we spend on food, drink and other stuff varies considerably. The focus of this post, however, is cost conscious travel, so here are some ideas on how to have your cake and eat it too, or at least have a little creme brulee to go with your Le Big Mac. 

You Can Be A Frugal Foodie. Eating is one of life's most pleasurable activities. As Virgina Woolf said - "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well". However, eating well on a budget can be daunting. Here are some tips to eat like a king or at least an upper middle-class peasant:
  • A L Carte - Not. Everybody knows ordering a la carte costs more. So, take advantage of hotels that include food as part of their rate. Some even include all of your meals, which can cost less than eating out. This is especially true of hotels and B&B's located outside of urban areas.
  • Do Your Own Thing. Order in or prepare your own meals with locally purchased items. This is especially true for longer stays and even more so for self-catering places. Some small hotels and B&B's will purchase food items per your instructions. On a trip we enjoyed to The Natural Retreats in Yorkshire Dales UK, the proprietor provided a two-day supply of wine, cheese, eggs, bread and all the essentials to prepare our own meals.
  • Make A Food Plan. Or at least find different places where you can wine and dine at various price points and bookmark them on your mobile phone and notate them in your journal. Finding a place to eat on the road is much less stressful if you have done some pre-trip homework.
  • Ask The Front Desk. Always take advantage of the hotel concierge for local places to eat. If they are good, they will know all the best spots. And tell them that you are looking for a place that isn't off the charts price wise. Most hotel staff are eager to oblige you in your search for the best and cheapest meal in town. 

And What Do We Do Now Love?

All travel must include those side trips, museum crawls and nights on the town to make wanderlust truly memorable. Finding low-cost activities involves the same methodologies for the perfect place, the cheapest flight and the best for less food. The internet is your best friend when you want to see the Broadway hit Jersey Boys or finally get to see the Mona Lisa up close and personal. Second, always be on the lookout for "free days" for museums and plan accordingly. Finally, most great buildings cost little to nothing to visit. And as this Nomad Architect knows, great buildings are what make the vagabond's world a better place. Seeing Notre Dame Cathedral, The Tate Modern or Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House opens your eyes, your mind and your heart to the possibilities of creative thought. And it cost little or nothing.

It Often Comes Down To Where and When

Where you go does make a difference. Some places just cost more. A well-traveled friend told me once that he used to think New York was expensive until he visited London. Our trip to the UK confirmed his opinion as fact. I am not suggesting that you select your next adventure based solely on price. Just know that Big Sur Hotels can go as  $1,200 per night. 

As I review hotels, modes of transportation, food choices and other fun things, I have been pleasantly surprised by the relatively low cost of all of these items, even in today's high inflation economies in Europe and the States. But if Big Sur is your dream vacation, you can find unique, high-quality places to sleep if you perfect the art of the deal by using some of the suggestions in this post. And remember our motto - Vagabonds Never Settle!
Finally, when you go can be the single largest factor in your travel budget formula. The "high" season for most destinations is roughly from late April to late August.  If you have a disdain for large crowds and high prices, and what Legitimate Tightwad Nomad doesn't, then travel in the summer is anathema to your intrinsic need to achieve the joy of true wanderlust. Early spring, just before the madding crowd arrives, gives you great weather, blooming flowers, low prices and the run of the place. Most hoteliers are more than happy to give no cost upgrades and other perks for off season guests. 

The other end of the calendar is early autumn. Mid to late September affords the traveler the same benefits as early spring with beautiful seasonal fall colors, lower prices and a bigger room with a view than you would have gotten in July.  The only real downside of travel during the "shoulder" season is that some sites may be closed or have limited hours. That's a small price to pay when you get an ocean front room for half of what it is in mid-summer.
So, get busy. Read, write and dream yourself into your new world order of lower cost, higher end travel. In this insane world of international political upheaval, $5.00 per gallon gasoline and an ever more worthless dollar, it is possible for all True Nomads to find that perfect place and actually go there for a price that doesn't require a second mortgage. All it takes is an unrelenting and obsessive quest for the best deals on the best places you want to go with the ones you love.

We all have to be somewhere, so go somewhere that will warm your soul!


And for all Vagabonds - Here is one of the most popular comedians working today. Jim Gaffigan on Disney with kids. If you love Disney - Sorry!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024


Last week's post covered some basic ideas for planning a trip like you've never had or just another trip to a familiar place. In any case The Nomad Architect's goal is to help all Vagabonds to go where they want to go without going broke! Today, readers can extract more relevant things To Do when planning your trip to Venice or Sonoma.

Become A Virtual Nomad

As I have said many times, the power of the internet has drastically changed the world of travel. A vast community of travelers, writers, bloggers and vendors have combined to provide a constant, unabated stream of information for travelers of every ilk. Of course, along with this intense level of travel related information, comes classic information overload. So how do we cut through the rattle and hum to get good quality information that gets us where we want to go for the prices we want to pay? With the multitude of search engines, travel blogs and web sites devoted to helping you find the right place at the right price, trip planning can be fun and rewarding in its own right for the economy minded Vagabond. Following are some of the best web sites and search engines with an ample supply of low-cost sleeping options.

  • I-Escape. I love this site. It is so easy to use and provides great details, good and bad, for each property. If you are planning to go to France, Paris is a must stay. The people, the food, the museums, etc., etc., etc. It's truly one of the most romantic cities in Europe. You can find many hotels from basic to five stars starting at $150 per night.
  • Tablet Hotels. This is one of the best hotel/B&B sites around. It lists both professional and guest reviews. It has multiple filters including location and price. One example - Check out the Marina Di Petrol O Hotel & Spa in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, a quick hour from Palermo. At this waterfront boutique you can enjoy a beachfront room with balcony, a huge stand-up shower, an infinity pool and a world class spa. And the price? Around $114! Just one example of a cool place for a cool price.
  • h10HOTELS. Another search engine where you can land some downright outstanding hotels for great prices. It's hard to beat a deal like Raco' del Pi,  Barcelona in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in Spain for around $90 per night. It warms the cockles of any cheap Nomad's heart.
  • Boutique Homes. I include this site because of its emphasis on design. It even has a special list entitled Style for a Steal with many less expensive places to stay. It also includes a list entitled Small Hotels with well designed places for less.
  • Eurocheapo. Great site for the budget minded traveler to Europe. From Barcelona to Paris to Venice to the London you can find rooms for under $100. This search engine is also affiliated with one of the largest Search Engines for Hotels in the world - Bookiing. You can find a waterfront hotel in Seattle starting at $144 per night. In Seattle that is utterly insane!
  • Hostelworld. The old image of hostels with rows of vagabond college kids sleeping in bunk lined barracks is giving way to a kinder, gentler inexpensive alternative for the Frugal Nomad. Today's hostels offer well designed rooms with all the amenities of pricier hotels and B&B's, including en suite bathrooms, a critical non-negotiable for this Nomad. If you are looking to sleep cheap, this site is worth a look, with private rooms as low as $50 per night.
  • Airbnb. This site, started in 2007 by Rhode Island School of Design alumnus, is the leading player in the search engine world for travelers who want something different. The site has built up an impressive lineup of rooms, homes, villas, apartments and even private islands at all price levels. How about a small re-purposed 
    Hayloft on the property of Villa Migliorini just a few miles from Florence? It sleeps four and costs a ridiculous $106 per night. Or if you want urban, check out a Central Penthouse Studio owned by an architect that sleeps up to four in downtown Valencia, Spain at $100 per night. That leaves a lot of euros to spend on tapas and sherry. I can attest, after staying in many AIRBNB's, to the quality and pleasure of staying in places with helpful owners who will show you all the places to eat and see.

Next week - Part 3 of Dreaming, thinking and planning that trip of a lifetime. Travel always takes you somewhere, old or new, that will change your head and your heart.

Dream Dream Dream and Go Go Go My Fellow Vagabonds!


Born 1993 in Purcell, OK - One of the best rock, blues, gospel and folk artists performing today - Parker Milsap doing one of his best - Truckstop Gospel.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


 How To Be A Real Nomad Without Breaking The Bank

So here we are - Valentines Day. I've thought a lot about a post for Valentines Day and decided - maybe next year. Today's post is for any Vagabond that wants a trip that fulfills all the desires you may have without exceeding your American Express or Capital 1 credit limit. And you need to get started - Spring is quickly approaching - March 21!

Is "Budget Travel" The Ultimate Oxymoron?

Well, it depends on your definition of what budget and enjoyable travel really mean.  We've all experienced stressful issues flying to places unknown. I proclaim, with no apology, the pleasure of train travel in Europe is the best way to get from Point A to Point B. Train travel actually gives credence to the admonition "Getting there is half the fun".  And of course, driving up the coast of California or through the hills of Tuscany on a Sunday afternoon is one of the truly great pleasures any Nomad would welcome.

And what about the budget part of Budget Travel? First, let's define Travel Budget. In researching various travel blogs, online magazines and other travel experts, today's hotel prices range from $100 to $2,600, depending on where you go and what you desire for a cool place to sleep. Finding quality digs for picky Nomads that do not cost a small fortune is becoming more and more challenging. If your idea of budget travel is to go to and find the lowest priced chain, then read no further. If, however, you are a true Nomad looking for low prices and refuse to settle, then today's post is for you.

Of course, hotel costs are not the only component of budget travel. Transportation costs are becoming more and more challenging for the budget minded. I highly recommend procuring a rewards credit card. My personal preference is American Express Delta. We've not paid for a plane ticket in years. However, through obsessive planning, searching and timing, a penny-pinching Nomad can keep the cost of planes, trains and automobiles at an acceptable level. Finally, food and other things like shopping, entertainment and sightseeing can add up to a significant portion of any travel budget. Eating, drinking and being merry can, indeed, cost a bundle. So, just as you plan the big items, being smart and reasonable can help ensure that you travel like a Happy Nomad and not just a weary, broke vagabond.

Sleeping On The Cheap Is What We Seek

Now that we have established the basic conceptual boundaries of low-cost travel, how do we actually achieve the Ultimate Low-Cost Adventure for Cheap Nomads? IMHO, travel in the USA takes an obsessive search for cool places that don't cost a fortune. So - where are you gonna go? If you have never been to the most amazing country on earth, then get started on a trip to Italy. You will find quality places to sleep, visit, see and enjoy for prices that won't make you wince! 

Practical Considerations

Here is a simple list of things to keep in mind when planning your dream trip.
  • Research - To plan a great budget conscious trip takes time.
  • Read - Online, books, you tube & other sources help you plan your trip.
  • Get organized - Book mark every relevant site for places & activities.
  • Make a budget. This is critical to achieve your goal of low-cost travel. Use Excel or download any number of Travel Budget Apps.
  • Make an itinerary. I prefer a simple Itinerary listing flights, hotels, places and activities you want to enjoy.
  • Confirm costs. When you find a hotel that interests you make sure you go to the hotel's web site to ensure you are getting the best price. Rarely do "hotel bundlers" actually have lower prices.
  • Be flexible. Sometimes finding a hotel a bit off the beaten path will take you into uncharted territories that will improve your trip for less money.
  • Follow blogs. Make comments and ask questions on travel blogs about places and deals. Click any link listed under Blogs The Nomad Follows in the right margin for some good intel.
Next week can't be missed. I will list all of the best places to find great, inexpensive hotels everywhere, particularly Italy. Other items will be included for you to plan your Dream Vacay.

My Fellow Nomads - You Gotta Plan & Go!


“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” - Orson Welles

Here is a very cool tune by one of my favorites - Lyle Lovett - Pants Is Overrated.


Wednesday, February 7, 2024


After touring one of the greatest works of architecture in America, we headed south to the resort town of Tucson to enjoy the desert environs as we stayed in a completely luxurious resort for rest and relaxation. The food wasn't bad either.

Whether you take the back roads or I-10, the views of the desert driving the quick two hours from Scottsdale to Tucson are desert perfection. We pulled into the Westward Look Grand Resort & Spa to stay for four days. As we were taken to our room, it was very impressive. The Junior Studio Suite with Desert View had a king size bed, a nice shower and a large balcony/terrace.  Depending on when you go, you can reserve outstanding rooms starting at $156. The best time to go is in early September - prices are low and the temperature is more comfortable. In the summer, the prices go up to the low $300's and the temperatures can go up to 100 degrees. 

Generally, I don't stay in "resorts", but this place doesn't feel like a big resort. It was
comfortable with excellent staff and all the amenities any Vagabond needs for a complete adventure in travel - great restaurants, great spa and an outstanding desert environment. The resort has many choices for dining from a small cafe to an in-room dining experience.

In addition to the resort, there are many things to see and do in and around Tucson. The city has many great restaurants. You can enjoy quick trips or longer daytrips and tours. From the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum to Saguaro National Park, if you want to see some of the most unique and beautiful natural environments then this part of Arizona is the place for you! Take a quick look at the following video showing the beauty of this desert extraordinaire not far from Tucson.

So, if you have never been to the deserts of the Southwest, then - Just Go! Now! You will not regret it!


And for a little video treat - enjoy a great tune from a young artist from Oklahoma - Parker Milsap performs Old Time Religion live on e-TOWN!