Keeping spending low whilst travelling

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conwy
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Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by conwy » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:12 pm

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it wickedly hard to keep spending under control while travelling?

I've been doing a 1-month holiday in the US and, much as I tried to plan everything down to the last detail, I'm still finding myself spending way more than I had planned.

This is partly due to unavailability of cheap food in major cities / bombardment of mouth-wateringly delicious food at high prices / poor impulse control on my part.

Also partly due to unexpected currency fluctuations occurring bang in the middle of my trip (USD-AUD, specifically).

And to top it off, a myriad of small factors I simply hadn't anticipated and didn't react quickly enough to.

Another example - how do I get from my cheap AirBnB to the airport, to fly to the next city? It's a 3-4 hour walk, and with all my life's belongings on my back weighing in at several kilos, plus the possibility of walking through some kind of seedy neighbourhoods, simply not something I would attempt. So I decide to take this one leg of my journey on the subway. But lo and behold, I have to purchase a subway ticket. Then there's an extra fee for the ticket. Plus an additional ticket and fee just for the airport leg of the subway trip. Not something I could've known ahead-of-time, not something Google Maps told me. Ends up costing me $15-20 AUD. That's my whole daily food budget.

I'm starting to think that ERE and travel to major cities are simply incompatible. Or at least, would require an immense amount of detailed knowledge and very careful planning to achieve.

These extra costs are manageable - I added a generous buffer to my funds and I have my next job lined up when I'm done. But I'm feeling a bit demotivated by this experience.

I'm starting to think that I'll need to maintain at least part-time or occasional contract work in order to save that extra-large buffer of funds that I'll need if I want to do any overseas travel.

Seppia
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by Seppia » Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:35 pm

Quick, comfortable and cheap. Pick two :)

A good saving strategy when traveling is to slow travel, as you get to know the place, are not in a hurry and can let prices dictate your schedule in the same way as you can let supermarket sales dictate your menu.

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Ego
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by Ego » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:14 pm

A few thoughts:

-Motion is expensive. We stay in places longer and plan our moves carefully. The Tripadvisor forum has good info on how to get from a to b at the lowest possible cost. Many cities have some sort of airport bus that is inexpensive. For instance, the Aerobus in Barcelona is €5.90. Make sure your lodging syncs well with the transport options before booking.

-Eating out is expensive. We've eaten out only a handful of times in almost nine months of travel. Oatmeal, fruit, soymilk and tea/coffee for breakfast. A big lunch at about 3pm consisting of mostly vegetables and tofu/tempeh/beans. We eat only two meals a day. I carry a campstove, two pots and a bunch of cooking stuff. The last restaurant we ate in was Hasham's falafel stall in Amman in April for @$5US. Some would argue that by not eating out we are not properly experiencing the culture. They may be right. But that's how we do it.

-Sightseeing can be expensive. Tours and hop-on-hop-off buses cost a lot. We pick up their maps and follow their route for our morning run. We're in Paris right now. Yesterday we ran up and down and around the Canal Saint-Martin. Where many people take a boat tour through the locks, we ran over them.

-Admissions are expensive. Do free stuff.

-Pick inexpensive countries.
Last edited by Ego on Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:14 pm

All it takes is a little research and planning.

I would suggest something like an intermittent fasting diet whilst traveling. Skip breakfast (unless it's included w/ accommodation), and purchase lunch at a supermarket/grocery store. For dinner you can try to cook something using local ingredients, or hunt for some bargain foods (ethnic food is typically low cost). Or do the reverse, spend $5-10 on a lunch out, and then cook/prep something from the supermarket for dinner.

My go-to when traveling around the USA is usually a roasted chicken as most large grocery chains carry them, whole chickens are typically $5-7, and can last 1 person two days. High protein to boot.

Don't ever pay for water/soft drinks, and avoid expensive beers/convenience food in high cost locations, typically near tourist attractions.

Seppia
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by Seppia » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:27 pm

@Ego make sure you don’t miss the Sainte Chapelle. It’s one of the most beautiful things in Paris (if not THE most beautiful) and it’s not famous at all.
I lived in Paris 7 years, hit me up if you want some suggestion

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Ego
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by Ego » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:55 pm

@Seppia, Thanks! Just now I told Mrs Ego your suggestion and she said, "What the hell! I've been telling you about it since we arrived. Now some internet person tells you about it and you want to see it. Hum!" Apparently we've run past it twice and she mentioned both times that it is the most beautiful church in the world. I guess it went in one ear and out the other.

I just checked. It costs ten euro per person. No free days. I just watched a pretty good video about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vigjJih8Pn4

I'll have to pay attention the next time we pass by and decide if we are going to visit. She's been twice in the 80s.

bigato
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by bigato » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:11 pm

Ego: which type/model of camp stove do you use and why?

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Ego
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by Ego » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:18 pm

@bigato, we used to carry the MSR Dragonfly which burns petrol and diesel. Jacob pointed out that it is a controlled explosion. He's right. Maybe it was a bit foolish to use it indoors. Maybe I'm getting more cautious with age. We switched to the MSR Wisperlite Universal which can burn almost anything, diesel, kerosene, petrol, butane and propane. I bought an adapter to allow it to use those cheap Chinese butane canisters that every hardware store sells for about $2. Much safer and easier to use. Something like this....

Image
Last edited by Ego on Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bryan
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by bryan » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:22 pm

Sleeping in your car/van is a big cost saver. Owning a car/van with enough room to sleep comfortably is great; no more hotel costs for road/day trips!

If you don't have your own car/van, you can rent one. I've rented a u-haul for a couple nights just to sleep in the back of it ($50 vs min. $300 + inconvenient). Occasionally I look into renting a mini-van or similar for trips where I need a car instead of staying in a hotel/airbnb. Perhaps arrange flights so you can sleep in the airport or on the plane (these flights are anyway cheaper than prime-time flights) on travel days. Same deal for buses or trains.

An inflatable sleeping pad is a nice thing to have!

If you have to get a short term rental, I usually filter by acceptable locations (close to transit, central/walkable/bikeable, access to airport, etc) first.

For airport transit, always try to do a little more research than just google maps. There might be some less used transit to/from that's cheaper than what's typical. For example, in Dallas the train to/from DFW (20 miles) is $3 or in San Francisco the bus to/from SFO is $4 instead of $10 for BART. In San Francisco, if you are flexible enough with your times, you can get to/from Oakland for $1 on the bike shuttle. Some airports have bicycle parking. Some airports you can park for free nearby (or otherwise take a taxi/transit there to avoid airport fee) and walk the final mile or so.

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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by jacob » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:27 pm

Seppia wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:35 pm
Quick, comfortable and cheap. Pick two :)
This!

I've always picked exactly the two combinations that included the "cheap" option.

Quick and cheap. This means bringing my own boxes of oatmeal and ordering bus/train tickets months in advance and stressing about making connections. Sometimes living in motels out of the way. Perhaps it is no wonder why I think tourism sucks. I design such trips to suck. But they are cheap!

Comfortable and cheap. Which I've basically done by relocating to different parts of the world and staying at the new place for months or years at a time.

The ERE Wheaton scale actually has a travel column which might shine some light on this:

Image

bigato
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by bigato » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:34 pm

Thanks Ego! I zeroed in on the whisperlite internationale years ago when researching options for bike travel. But somehow the fuel line got clogged after being left aside assembled for a while, and there was no way to have it come out. Blame leaded petrol I guess. I believe the Universal is the latest upgrade to the model? I can spot from the photo that the wind vulnerability has been fixed!

conwy
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by conwy » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:50 pm

Whoa you people are pros!

I'm kind of humbled and inspired. Everything being said here makes sense.
For airport transit, always try to do a little more research than just google maps
See your point. I need to spend more time planning, and farther in advance, in order to lock in better-located accommodation and cheap transport options. Rather than just show up and use Google Maps on the day, I should do some Googling / research ahead-of-time and find those cheaper transit links.
Occasionally I look into renting a mini-van or similar for trips where I need a car instead of staying in a hotel/airbnb.
Sleeping in a van or SUV - not sure it would've been much cheaper compared to AirBnB + walking, but definitely would've been worth doing for the week or two that I did hire a car. Next time I might try renting a larger vehicle - van or SUV - and try sleeping in it. I guess I'd only be concerned about safety and legality, especially when in another country. But maybe with a van it's not such a problem as long as I park in an out-of-the-way area and no one can see inside the van.
Perhaps arrange flights so you can sleep in the airport or on the plane
Yeah good idea, could make that work. What I could do is sleep extra or stay up extra the day before, then pull an all-nigher at an airport on the night that I arrive, thus avoiding the Uber fee.
Eating out is expensive
Yep, good point. I've been eating out every couple of days, but could really cut that down to once per week, or maybe even never.

The rest of the time I live off bread, peanut butter, sardines and vegetables. Veggies can be a bit expensive too though; got to weigh everything and pick the cheapest options.
Don't ever pay for water/soft drinks
Good one. Been carrying around a plastic bottle of water and refilling it every opportunity. Haven't needed to buy a single water in the whole trip!

Coffee is my weak point, however. Been cheating and going to 7-Eleven, getting cheap coffee there, but even that is pretty expensive and adds up. Would be better to just get a jar of instant or ground coffee and make it myself. Unfortunately I'd have to throw it out every time I catch a flight. But still, would probably work out cheaper than 7-Eleven.
My go-to when traveling around the USA is usually a roasted chicken
Thanks for the reminder! Yes, you're right, I'm seeing roast chicken in supermarkets all over and it seems cheaper than canned food per lb. Might switch to the chicken then!
Some would argue that by not eating out we are not properly experiencing the culture
Could just as well argue that you're experiencing the culture more authentically, living the same as the locals live, day-to-day.
Sightseeing can be expensive
Completely agree. This is one I think I have gotten right. Been living in NYC for 5 days and didn't pay for a single tour. So much exciting stuff to see just doing my own random walking tours and bumping into new sights and sounds. Saved me a lot of $$$. It's incredible how much free stuff there is to see and do.

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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by conwy » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:55 pm

jacob wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:27 pm
Quick and cheap. This means bringing my own boxes of oatmeal and ordering bus/train tickets months in advance and stressing about making connections. Sometimes living in motels out of the way. Perhaps it is no wonder why I think tourism sucks. I design such trips to suck. But they are cheap!
Can you bring food on board flights? Or do you purchase the oatmeal after getting off the plane?

Oats seem like a good cheap option, also healthy, high-calorie, easy to prepare.
jacob wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:27 pm
Which I've basically done by relocating to different parts of the world and staying at the new place for months or years at a time.
Yes, good point. I need to do much more flight-hacking and experimenting with off-seasons and cheap flight routes.

The US generally isn't a cheap place for an Australia. Maybe Mexico or other countries would've been cheaper.
jacob wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:27 pm
The ERE Wheaton scale actually has a travel column which might spread some light on this:
I need to crack open my ERE book and re-read. So much in there to unpack.

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unemployable
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by unemployable » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:48 am

Figure out what place to you represents paradise and move there. Then you won't want to leave.

shemp
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by shemp » Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:03 am

If you want to travel cheap in the USA, try bicycle touring. Dirt road touring in western part of USA is best, IMO, but you need to be able to carry huge amounts of water for that. If you alternate two days camping with one day in motel, lodging cost averages maybe $25/day versus $75/day. That's the major expense, once you've bought the bicycling and camping gear. Another $10/day for food, smartphone, etc.

Hiking is even cheaper, however hiking in the USA (Appalachian Trail, etc) is something of an ordeal. Town to town hiking in Europe much easier. Hiking in Eastern Europe especially cheap. Again, lodging the big expense, but easy to find hotels in Eastern Europe for $20/night. Divide lodging cost by 2 to account for camping half the time, and easy to travel there for under $1000/month.

Regarding food, I pretty much everywhere live on bread, cheese, canned fish, canned lentils or beans, dark chocolate, peanuts, unwashed fruit, unwashed uncooked vegetables. None of those items requires cooking or refrigeration, assuming you eat within a few days of purchase. Only exception is when I rent a weekly apartment with kitchen, where I substitute boiled cabbage and other vegetables for usual uncooked broccoli and salad greens.

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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by Cheepnis » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:26 am

We're in the middle of a two week trip to the UK and while I've been pretty happy with our lodging and ground travel expenses, food expenses have been the real killer.

I did not set a strict budget for the trip, but food spending at this rate would not be sustainable for longer travel. I have been preparing my own breakfasts in the hostels, but lunches and dinners have been mostly at restaurants.

I think I'm about Wheaton 3.5 according to the chart above. This being my first international trip I know next time I'll need to have a better game plan for food and would prefer to take a longer trip to help amortize the cost plane fare.

bryan
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Re: Keeping spending low whilst travelling

Post by bryan » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:35 pm

conwy wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:55 pm
Can you bring food on board flights? Or do you purchase the oatmeal after getting off the plane?
You can bring anything other than what's on that long list of "not allowed" items. So carrying on, bringing through security, food is fine, as is alcohol <=100ml (e.g. minis). Note, it is allegedly illegal to open and consume that alcohol on the flight (so prepare accordingly in the airport).

Whether to bring food or buy food upon arrival would just depend on logistics of baggage. If you are trying to keep baggage size, weight down, you could skip packing the stuff that is bulky/heavy but also cheap (so you could buy them upon arrival).

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