" If you don't know where you are going,you'll end up someplace else ” - Yogi Berra
Conscious about how expensive traveling can be, since I planned to do my next trips entirely by my own and I was not sure how long it would take me, I realised one of the most important things to do was to reduce my traveling cost as much as I could. One thing I kind of promised myself long time ago was that I would try to avoid bag-packing. I really have nothing against that kind of traveling many people practise i guess to save money. It has to do more with the fact that I really really need my own privacy and all the commodities in order to enjoy this experience to the fullest. Also, because I wanted to live my new traveller life as normal as possible. As you can imagine my first few long-term trip experiences were all expensive because, most of them if not all, were job related and, at that time, I had no budget limits except my research budgets that, I have to say, they were pretty ok. My upcoming solo-trips needed to be cheaper so that I could extend them as long as possible. Since I quit my job already, at that time I did not have any source of income except my own savings.
Based on my traveling expertise acquired through a few years of business traveling and a very simple decision-making technique used in psychology that my brother in law taught me long time ago, I did a little bit of self-brainstorming one night on top of my desk just with a piece of paper, and I managed to come with four ways to reduce traveling cost while traveling (read next chapter for more info). Remember, it needed to be a considerable cost reduction in order to be able to keep traveling over the long term. Here is my short list:
- 1. Booking at simple hotels or pensions. The idea was to book in hotels of lower categories. At the beginning I was a bit concerned about this because, honestly, before I never tried any hotels below 3 stars.
- 2. One trip after another. Also, I decided going on a trip-by-trip basis. The reason was that based on my trip expertise, sometimes, for some unexpected reason, I might have to make some booking changes, such as last minute changes or little sudden accidents that may occur, like for example... confusing the time of departure in one airport with the time of arrival in another airport (it happened to me once :) If these kind of situations ever happen, then basically means you will need to pay extra. To minimize these potential issues as much as possible and getting more cost efficient, I decided much better if I booked on the fly. This could be a source of headaches sometimes because some airlines will automatically put you in a threat list for security reasons and if you did not account for this situation you may have some unexpected issues such as missing your flight but i decided to try anyways in order to save some money
3. More walking, less lazying around. Third saving decision I took ... I would do less easy traveling (by systematically taking taxis or buses, for example) and change this for a more healthy habit choice such as walking instead. This seemed to be a key decision because, keep it in mind, I also wanted to lose weight and get healthier, and it was clear that the combination of conveyance together with little activity was not a wise way to get rid of my fats. The other reason had nothing to do with being fat or thin. It has to do with the fact that
"you can not really enjoy the places you visit unless you fully integrate into those places"
Sometimes we might feel a little bit terrified because we do not know well the new place we are visiting or because, for some reason, maybe we are in a rush and we prefer to get in a taxi, but for sure in my next trip I would be no rush (I quit my job already so I was stress-free), and after all the life experiences I had, I was not scared of anything at all, so I had really no good reasons to use taxi as my only means of conveyance and I made my mind " I will try to avoid it as much as I could ".
Furthermore, I noticed that over-abusing taxi sometimes may raise new issues such as potential cheating by the time we are going to pay the bills or situations such as paying from very little-to-lots extra because the taxi driver go around instead of straight, or faster meters, for example. On this note, I must say the taxi issue seems to be pandemic though. I am not making a point that may only happen when you travel abroad, actually it may happen anywhere even in our own country.
- 4. Local foods. And point #4, similarly to the recommendation I made earlier about trying to integrate yourself more into the place you are visiting by,
for example, walking around more, I think you should also try to enjoy the local foods more, and forget about the general idea of eating at the typical fast food brands that, on the other hand, are the number one responsible for the alarming obesity levels specially in western countries. There is a popular said for this: "wherever you see locals eating, that's the place to eat" If you are visiting a foreigner country, make sure you do not make the big mistake. Do what the popular sentence says " Do follow the crowd " ... but I would add up ... " Do follow the local crowd, not the foreigners " If you see lots of foreigners eating in one cool restaurant, that's probably the wrong place to eat, not only from the uniqueness or cultural point of view, but also because I bet it will be much more pricy. I observed in some foreign restaurants two types of menus: the ones for the locals (normal price and usually cheap), and the ones so called "special menus" (the tricky ones), the ones with exactly the same items but written in english or slangish, menus made for tourists, usually x2 x3 times more expensive.
Also, do not forget! if you are a world traveller in some countries local people see foreigners, or even local travellers, like $ signs, unfortunately!.
So, by doing this little brainstorming, with only 4 variables I was able to go down from 40k euros/year to 25k/year. In order words, I saved ~ 15k on traveling a year, which looked great to me, at least on that piece of paper. Wonderful then!
"I was up and ready for my first traveling-solo experience, yeah yeah!"
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