What is frugal travel?

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frugal travelFrugal travel does not mean dirt cheap accommodations, hitchhiking, not sightseeing, cooking in the room or eating from cans. Frugal travel means setting a budget and coming out at the end within that budget

Frugal accommodations could range from a week at a hostel, couch surfing,staying with friends or relatives, spending a few nights renting an Airbnb private room, or house sitting. But it can also include renting a furnished house for a month or spending a few nights in a super luxury hotel. As long as the overall budget is met. By saving money here and there, then you have enough for the splurges and still spend less than spending the month is a ho-hum hotel room.

Frugal sightseeing, in part, means not spending money on something you don’t want to see. Instead of traveling with a tour group, get a place to stay in a central location and then take day trips on a local bus or train to your particular interests in the surrounding area. My favorite way is taking a city tour bus for the first day and going back on my own for a more in-depth visit of only the sites that interest me. If you are traveling alone & meet a few people wanting to go to the same place, you could even rent a car or share a taxi to keep costs down and you establish some new friends along the way. Admission discounts can almost always be found, such as senior, student, AAA, AARP, etc. Often there are certain days of the month that admission is free to museums & such. Some cities have a passbook that offers reduced admissions (check the tourist bureau).

Make a list of the places in the world you want to go and use the amazing sites and apps available now to tell you the cheapest times to go places and the best time to buy those tickets (more specifics on this later). If you are free to travel anywhere,anytime, you have the luxury of going to whatever location comes in the exceptionally low price. Surprise!

Consider alternative transportation than flying. Since time is not normally a factor with frugal drifters, consider taking a train or a bus. Or take a cruise! You can often find dirt cheap cruises across the Atlantic or Pacific or repositioning cruises that are real deals. Especially if you find someone to travel with you so that you’re not playing paying a single upgrade. Keep in mind, a cruise ship not only provides you transportation, but accommodation, entertainment, all your food, etc., so be sure to factor that in when you’re looking at whether it’s cost effective for you or not. Getting an inside room is another frugal tip. How much time are you actually going to spend in the room? Probably just to sleep and change clothes. All the excitement is on deck. If you’re confined to your room because of a bout of seasickness or other illness you won’t really care if the room is luxurious & has a view or not. And if you’re feeling well enough to get up on deck, you can nap in a lounge chair.

Your food choices are another place that can make or break your budget. When you go to a foreign country, if you plan to eat in the Americanized restaurants the entire time, then yeah, you’re going to be way over your budget. But if you shop at the local market, eat some of your meals in your room or apartment, eat at street vendors or restaurants the locals frequent, there will be enough left in your budget to be able to hit a Michelin star treat now and then. Breakfast and lunch are obviously the less expensive meals to eat out. (And having a big meal at lunch is actually healthier for you than at dinner anyhow.)

Alcohol can make or break your budget, and for that matter make or break your trip. Not only are you more vulnerable to criminals if you are drunk, the cost of spending your time in bars can more than double your budget. Either limit your alcohol or purchase it at a local store to have a cocktail before you leave home, then have that wine with dinner.

Bottled water is another area that can kill you financially. Simply by purchasing a good quality bottle-sized water filter before you leave can save a lot of money. Bring your empty bottle with you through security at the airport, then fill it from the tap on the gates. While traveling you can continue to fill your bottle with tap water and use your filter to have safe water for no further cost. Bottled water in most countries is almost as much as it here, so this is a huge savings whether you’re hiking and drinking from streams or just in a country where you’re not quite sure of the water supply. Even in countries where there is a reliable water supply it wouldn’t hurt to treat the water with your filter just in case.

Traveling frugally mean you will still have a safe, clean place to stay, you will still have plenty of food, you will still have a means to get from point A to point B, and you will still see what you want to see. You do not have to deprive yourself of a good time. It just means traveling within your means and being mindful of what you spend. Decide what luxuries are important to you and enjoy them without worrying about it. It’s in the budget!

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