By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Sometimes the most memorable travel experiences are the least expensive. A great personal example of this is the night in Paris my wife and I spent on our last trip to Europe…
On our last trip to visit my family in Germany, my wife and I made plans to travel to Lisbon, Portugal. I was excited to explore an new city with my wife, who had been to Europe only once before. While checking flights between Germany and Lisbon we discovered that it was less expensive to fly from Paris; so we booked that flight and a hotel in Paris for the night before. Also, before our trip, my wife posted an ad on Craigslist in Paris (I guess Craigslist is everywhere now!) for a photographer to take our pictures while we were there. What a great idea!
We arrived in Paris around noon after our three hour train ride from Germany. It was a nice, but somewhat rainy Fall day. We checked into our hotel room, and then grabbed a quick bite to eat before meeting the photographer at the Eiffel Tower. It turned out he was an American living in Paris with his girlfriend, and he had done plenty of “gigs” photographing tourists in Paris. He knew all the places where we could pose for the best pictures, so we were able to get an assortment of amazing pictures in one short hour (total cost: 50 Euros). We explored the city for a little while longer, then took a short break at the hotel room before heading back out.
We were on a mission to buy this special tea (Mariage Frères – Rouge Bourbon) that our friends really like, so we found out that a store called Le Bon Marché carried it. We took the Métro there in the early evening, found the store, and the tea! The tea was very affordable there (less than 10 Euros for a bag the size of my hand). This was enough for our friends and for us! Now whenever we drink that tea we think of Paris. Also, while we were at that store we saw a giant (and I mean giant!) jar of Nutella. We didn’t buy it, but we did take a picture of it. We were hungry after all of this running around, so we decided to eat dinner right there in the store. They had a deli where we ordered sandwiches and soup, and paid less than 20 Euros between the two of us.
At this point the rain had cleared up a bit and the sun had set, and it was a beautiful evening. We decided to walk in the direction of the hotel, which was at least two miles away, and take the Métro if we got tired (or if it started to rain again!). For 1 Euro be bought a baguette at the store and for another Euro we purchased a postcard from a street vendor along the way. Our stroll back on this crisp Fall evening in Paris is one of our fondest memories of the entire trip. Paris at night is beautiful, and we soaked it all in on that walk back.
Total cost for our entire day, including the photographer, was around 100 Euros. A drizzly evening spent walking and talking in the most romantic city in the world…priceless!
- Published in Vacation
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Many of my clients make it a priority to have a travel budget in their spending plan. And for those of my clients who love to travel…I encourage it! Paying down debt or building up savings is rewarding, but it is not very much fun if it is the only thing you are doing. Achieving your financial goals has to be balanced with living your life, and spending money on the things and experiences that bring you the most joy. And there is a way to do both if you plan properly.
Since travel season is upon us I thought I would share a few tips on how to stretch your travel budget…
Stay close to home. If you live in a nice city like I do, in beautiful San Diego, sometimes a stay-cation can bring all of the same benefits (if not more!) of going to some far off land. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy visiting Europe (my wife and I go every two to three years) or Hawaii, but not every year. Staying close to home allows me to enjoy more of my vacation because I don’t lose a day each way traveling. It can also be less stressful and overwhelming because you don’t have to worry about packing everything (if I forget something I can drive home to get it) and I don’t have to deal with airline security and flight delays. Another option is to take a road trip to a nice place nearby that you enjoy. Staying close to home allows you to spend more of your travel budget on other things, or save that money for another vacation!
Eat out less. Food costs can quickly add up when on vacation. Especially if you are eating out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks! What my wife and I typically do when we travel is we have one big meal per day at a restaurant to make the meal more special for us. For the other meals we buy food at a local grocery store and prepare the meals in our hotel room. Remember to bring plates, bowls, utensils, and napkins from home or buy them at a local store. We forgot to do this once and it made things very interesting! We also buy snacks that we can eat while we are out sightseeing.
Know airline carry-on rules. Read the airline carry-on rules before you leave on your trip. I learned this on a trip within Europe when we flew on a budget airline. I had a standard sized carry-on suitcase that is perfectly acceptable in the United States, but on this airline it almost wasn’t! Before boarding the plane, every passenger was required to place their suitcase in a bin to show it wasn’t oversized. If it didn’t fit, you had to check the bag and pay 50 Euros per bag. There was a couple in front of us who each had a bag that didn’t fit. 100 Euros…poof! And the flight itself only cost about 40 Euros. I pushed my suitcase in, wiggled it, and was barely able to make it fit. 1/8 of an inch larger and I would have been out 50 Euros! Lesson learned.
Save on souvenirs. Skip the tchotchkes in favor of something you’ll actually use and enjoy. My wife and I collect a postcard from each location and keep them in a large glass vase. We love seeing them day-to-day and take them out to relive our adventures! I have nothing against snow globes and bobbleheads, but I prefer the postcards.
Remember why you travel. Everyone travels for different reasons – some to relax, some to reconnect with their families, and others to see the world. As you make your plans, and also while you’re on vacation, remember why you travel. Will the purchases you’re considering add to the experience? Let’s say you booked a vacation to relax and unwind – you probably shouldn’t fill your days with expensive excursions that could leave you exhausted. Stay poolside with a book instead! Or, if you want to connect with your family, then you may plan walks around the city to find the best ice cream instead of seeing a movie.
So these are my travel tips for you to get the most out of your travel budget. For more travel tips this month visit our Facebook page. And for more general savings tips download my free eBook. Happy and safe travels this summer!
- Published in Vacation