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!

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