Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Travel Books: The Frugal Way

I love to travel. I'm sure a lot of you feel the same way but are held back by the hefty price tag. For most of us, travel seems like something for the retirement crowd or the jet setters: people with generous pensions or trust funds. Th rest of us dream about it, but assume we'll have to wait until the kids are grown and we've worked an extra job for several years in order to save up for a grand trip.

Banish these thoughts  and hesitations from your head! Travel is something you can do now. Those all expenses paid, luxury trips might be fun but they dilute a lot of the "real" experience of travel. Are you really going to experience another culture by never setting foot off a Sandles resort or an air conditioned tour bus? I think not. Get on the subway and barter in the local market. Take the kids. They'll love it.

To travel frugally (and with kids) you must prepare in advance. Not only does this help trim expenses, it gets the entire family really enthused about the trip. Big expenses like airline fairs can be cut down by using mileage to your advantage and by being flexible enought to take advantage of last minute deals and fair drops. If you are willinig to walk a little more and stay in a hotel that is not right in the center of the touristy areas you can save a bundle. Plus you get to see more of local life and your hotel room may include lots of bonuses like a kitchen. That means you won't have to pay for overpriced food and can prepare lunches to take with on longer day trips.

Cutting on the day to day expenses of being abroad is also important. Ever try taking a taxi in Zurich? You shouldn't. For this I cannot stress how important it is to have a proper travel book. You can take them out from the library or borrow from a friend if you don't want to spend money on one. But you must have one. A Frommer's guide is not what I mean by a proper travel book. It will definitely not save you money. It is meant for those trust fund kids and jet setters. Lonely Planet books on the other hand, are great for helping you see more sights for less. India (Lonely Planet Country Guide) is a particularly amazing example. The Rough Guide also puts out some good volumes. Head to your nearest bookstore to look at the actual books and decide which one is right for you. Then head online to read reviews. Finding the right book for each country is tough, but worth it!

I've been to quite a few places - Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Switzerland, Canada, lots of places within the U.S., The Netherlands, Italy etc. and I've managed to do this all at a relatively reasonable price. By working with work trips/miles/and the right travel guides my husband and I made it possible. Seeing these other cultures has enriched my life and given me a whole new global perspective. I am glad I did not wait until I was too old and frail to climb the Castle of the Moors in Portugal. If I had kept waiting for "the right time" I'd never have gone. I am eagerly looking forward to my next venture - Israel!


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