" Save money and money will save you "
In terms of further reducing cost while travelling I will discuss now my findings in regard to the 4 potential savings variables I came out with in an earlier chapter. Remember, the 4 savings points were: #1 hotel quality; #2 1-by-1 booking; #3 getting more active; and #4 eating local.
- #1 lowering hotel quality. This is by far the most successful decision I made. In my few years of traveling solo and booking at low category hotels, I never ever had any bad experience that made me regret this decision. Actually, it made me realise how stupid I was in former trips spending ridiculous amounts of money, booking rooms that I only used once or maybe twice a day, let's say mostly for sleeping, specially when you are contented with sleeping 7-8 hours a day, and the rest of the day you spend outdoors because you are visiting such a gorgeous and exotic place or country. How blind I was! I might not even have left one light on, not because I did not want to (chapter "Always watch your back") but rather because the hotel or the room did not allow me to. It feels like you are paying tons of money for disposing your luggage in a locked room, like a safety box in a train station but 100 times more expensive. I wish I could go back on time and save thousands of dollars for ensuring my future traveling :) But it is too late now so I will take this stupidity of mine as a learning experience for now, just because the time machine, unfortunately, it has not yet been invented.
I also have an interesting episode that made me feel even more idiot about the thousands I spent in expensive rooms. Let's go a couple of years back on time. I was in a business trip in Hong Kong, year 2010. When my trip was about to end and I was near going back home in Europe, one day I went down the hotel I was staying in order to extend my booking for a couple of more days. The girl receptionist told me it was ok to book for a couple of more days but the room was a little bit more expensive at that time. It was not during a weekend and I kind of did not understand why but she did not speak good english and, at the end of the day, it was only ~20 more bucks per night. I did not complain and payed the extra US$. Notice that Hong Kong uses HK$ but I am converting directly in US$ for better understanding. The same day in the afternoon I was informed by one of my coworkers that we probably could not go back home for a while because flights to Europe were all suspended till new notice because there was a huge volcano eruption in Iceland. Then, I realised what the girl receptionist was trying to tell me in the morning but because her poor english I was unable to get properly. A couple of days later in the early morning I heard in the news that the flights to Europe were not yet re-established because of high levels of volcano ash in the atmosphere. I went down the receptionist desk again and surprisingly I found out that the room price was raised another 40$ extra per night. I was complaining but I guess she did not get my english though I kind of noticed her smily face, like she was making fun of me. Because it was still not check out time I decided to go back in my room and quickly try online booking in another hotel. But, oh my Gosh! all hotels in the surrounding areas and the whole HK seemed to be fully booked already. Because of that volcano issue thousands of european were retained in Hong Kong, and other countries I believe, for a few days. With all pain in my heart, I went down again and while the girl seemed to be making fun at me with her other coworkers I was paying the extra 40$ per night. Before I left the hotel desk she also told me that from that day on I needed to pay on a day-by-day basis.
In other words, I was not able to book for a few days ahead anymore. Are you guessing already what was going on there? if you tried to guess, you probably did it right. What the heck! these people were making money out of people being forced to stay in Hong Kong because of this volcano issue. What if they will have to receive tons of immigrants? like it is happening in Europe now. They will charge them extra too? That was really amazingly unbelievable (chapter "Be mentally ready for culture shock"). But believe it or not I still needed to pay that night to stay there or else I would have to stay overnight in a 24 hours Mcdo as I saw many people doing many times. I guess now why. But wait a moment. I did not finished the story yet. Also, please do remind me to tell you the full story of what happened the very same day in that hotel if you read "the culture shock" chapter in case I miss it. Now here are the big numbers. That room I was staying during few months at that time it was in the range of 120-150$ per night, more expensive during weekends, what actually happens in many other hotels. However, after this Hong Kong retention of "atmospheric dimensions", I ended up paying 380$ for the very same room. Now here is the point I was trying to make. You should really see the size of that room. It was in one of this high rise buildings in HK, on the floor #2Oth something. It was a very modern room with great views BUT an extra small XSS kind of little tiny roomy. To give you the real picture, I needed to put the biggest of my luggages under the bed and the other 2 small ones almost outside the window because there was not enough room size available for my stuff, and it was not because my things were huge, rather the room was really really small. But well! I was in HK many times and that was the room I found available at that time. If you have been in HK already you will know this actually might happen frequently.
The size of the washroom I better not mention it. Basically, I was not able to totally close the washroom door because I had a hard time to get in. Wonder why I found my pillow wet many times when I was ready to sleep. The kind of room that you will be so shame if you get lucky that night :P But let's focus. Now... if I tell you, going down the category of the hotel booking to 2 or 1, or even zero stars such as pensions or guest houses, I never ever had been in such a small expensive room with such a rude people making fun of me because I could not go back home. Yeah! I paid even 10$/night in some countries such as Vietnam, Thailand or Philippines with wonderful rooms, wonderful people and wonderful services. If you travel as much as I do and you are not too much picky about lowering your hotel category, I am sure, sooner or later, you will agree with me on this, and you will thank me so much for helping you to save ridiculous amounts of money. Really! believe me! we humans are sometimes not so clever paying for super expensive rooms when we travel. Well, for this said let's make some exceptions: unless you go in a honey moon or you are a retired multimillionaire traveling around the world with your wife, maybe and only maybe under those circumstances maybe, it's good to pay crazy amounts for a crazy room ;-)
As for the other cost reduction variables I raised, I need to confess you now that I think I made some miscalculations earlier:
- #2 Trip-by-trip. My idea of going one booking then another looked like it did not work at all, at least for the kind of traveling I was doing: "one week one place, one week another. One country transposing to another". The
reason is that most airlines are more expensive as the time to departure approaches. On top, you have the security issues I commented in previous chapters. Furthermore, you should account for the possibility of not been able to find a room the same day of your arrival (chapter "the importance of local holidays"). Going 1-by-1 booking I believe it might work mostly if you do a solo-country or not visiting many countries, and you make sure you use local public transport such as buses or trains (careful about suspicious vans or people offering cheap discounts, read chapter "Always watch your back"). Definitely do not book a flight the same day of departure or even one day ahead, because maybe you can't find a flight available or even if you are lucky and find available flights, low-cost airlines could be even more expensive than high-cost. Actually sometimes you may get a better price using a high-cost airline instead of low-cost. "Do always book ahead"
3# Getting more active. Well! this was the second great successful idea I had
for two main reasons: a) efficient weight loss. I think it is clear to all of us the relationship between getting more active, health and weight loss, and
I already showed you some of my progress on this matter (see last chapter). In other words, the more active you get, the more successful you will be at losing weight; and b) saving money by
getting more active, even though it might sound redundant again, it should be easy to get that the more we do move our asses, the less we will use other transportation options, such as taxi,
buses or trains, what might translate into considerable savings.
- #4 Local foods. Going local foods sometimes might be cheaper and healthier than going to brand restaurants or very posh ones for sure, but if you are always looking for healthy local home made choices rather than fast foods, on average you will needed to pay extra. On my experience, basically, I am not reducing much cost on foods because of this extra penalty I am mentioning
"the price of health" (see chapter)
Take home message: you can save traveling cost by lowering hotel category, taking a walk instead of taxi or traveling with local transport. The rest of choices may have a price. But even with these conclusions, I will still stick to my plan,
"I will not compromise my health. I will always go for healthy food choices"
I will close up this chapter with this self-explanatory sentence ... be aware twice of this wise quote
"Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship" - Benjamin Franklin
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