Stretch your Vacation Travel Dollar!
Many Years ago, when I first went to work for the airlines, I started out as a Customer Service/Ramp Agent with a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of a major US Airline (known as) Piedmont Airlines. I first worked at a somewhat small out-station in Charlottesville, Virginia. At that time I was single, and armed with flight privileges and benefits. I would travel as much as I could-to everywhere I could (and actually became quite good at it). For me, the hardest part of travelling was being able to get longer periods of the time off to be able to accomplish my travel jaunts. Even when I could only manage to muster up a two or three-day off period, I’d go somewhere.
I remember then, there was a popular series of books as internet wasn’t yet on the scene, entitled (as an example) how to visit Rome on $30 a day, and how I would scoff since I well knew that it could be done for sometimes half of that amount. So now that I have just shared with you some little known information about me, you are at least able to understand, that I do know a thing or two about how to travel as what I shall just refer to as “Frugal”.
- Be flexible with your accommodations: Rather than staying at more expensive Hotels; instead check into B & B’s, youth hostels, house exchanges, or college apartments and serviced accommodations during their term breaks. Remember that weeknights are generally cheaper than weekend stays, especially when done during off-peak, or shoulder seasons. Also when staying for multiple nights you can generally stay cheaper than single night stays. Shop, compare, and do your homework diligently, and you could save yourself a lot of money!
2. Plan ahead for staying less at your accommodations: As part of your #1 suggestion above; try to plan your flight arrival early in the morning, and your departures later in the evenings so as to avoid having to pay for extra sleep nights. Use Red Eye Flights so you can sleep on the plane), or lots of times you can find overnight trains to get you to your next destination so your train ticket doubles up as your accommodation as well. I have personally spent three to four hours extra in airports, and train stations to help prevent extra stay day charges.
3. Don’t forget your tax refund: I can’t begin to tell you how many people either don’t know about this, or just don’t save their purchase receipts. But, most countries that charge GST, or similar tax offer tourist refunds on their purchases when they depart, but you’ll need to save your receipts to claim your refund.
4. Search for Discounts and Coupons before you go: Part of the Fun and Adventure of any trip is the planning for same. You should be sure to use that time wisely. Many shops and service businesses you will need to use while vacationing may have discount vouchers or coupons that they post on the internet for printing beforehand. So if you know where you intend to shop and do business when you arrive, do a thorough search, and you might be pleasantly surprised just how much your savings can add up to, just by doing this one simple task.
5. Check for FREE Attractions: Still yet is another part of your advance “Due Diligence Search” is to check on Free or Reduced Rate Attractions. Most cities offer some free attractions for visitors, like free tourist shuttles, and sometimes even free or deeply discounted museum and gallery attendance on certain days of the week. You might also find some Botanic Gardens, Buildings, and other tourism points of interests who likewise offer discounts on particular days. So once again be sure to check on this before you go!
6. Purchase Bottled Water and Breakfast at Grocery Stores: One thing you quickly come to realize is that since water is something that many tourists buy since they can’t handle local water treatment processes. Vendors in and around touristy places charge exorbitant prices for bottled water as they feel they can get it. Here’s a good tip. Buy your bottled water from grocers as the cost is very much less than what you will pay if you buy from street vendors. One of my most frugal acts when traveling on a string is that I discovered that even in foreign lands (especially in much of Europe) that most if not all Grocery Stores carry pre-prepared breakfast and lunch items, just as is the custom here in the states. I’m not sure why it is that we American’s always think or feel that we have thought of something before everyone else has!
7. Join Backpacking Tours: One of the most economical ways to get to know the city is to seek out and join up with “Backpackers Tours”. While they offer very much similar itineraries as do normal tours (just with less tour guide support), but they sell for a fraction of the normal tour costs. You should know that people from all age groups join in on these tours.
8. Once in a city, Check for Discounted Ticket Booths: I was amazed to find that when walking around cities, especially in the theatre and museum districts, to find that many cities have actual discounted ticket booths to last-minute musicals, performances, sports events, opera, etc . Also you may also find such deals at ticket booths for rail service tickets, and water taxi providers. If you don’t see a sign, just ask; and they can direct you where to find them.
9. Remember to take your concession cards: If you should be a registered student or faculty member, and have a school concessions card, remember to take it with you. Also if you happen to be a senior, be sure to have your membership id’s handy, as often you may find vendors will recognize both senior, and student discount cards so be sure to ask, they can only say no!
10. Finally one last HOT tip (especially around dinner time): Take a few moments and observe the local foot traffic around the restaurant districts. Eat where, and what the locals are having and in whatever season it is which adds up to much cheaper prices. You can also always use street car vendors as (for food items) they are typically cheaper than other eating establishments, and more widely available. People that live in a particular city are always normally going to be your best indicators, for restaurants and eatery establishments. Don’t assume that everyone going out to eat is on an unlimited budget amount either. Generally people in many cities throughout Europe actually eat dinner out (if they live in the city), so be sure to take advantage of their knowledge and experience in locating the best in price and cuisine!
Enjoy your travel adventures. Hopefully you have now been empowered with at least one suggestion or idea (or two) to help you be able to travel more frugally!-Cruise with Mike
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For more information on Thrifty Travel and Cruise Tips, you can contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow Mike’s blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also edits his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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