So much as been written since the $5 A Day series back in the early 1960s on how to travel within a small budget that it seems that there is a competition to see who can pay the least. Personally, I think I win the contest because in 1981 I was rehired (after being laid off) by a consulting firm to go to Germany for 6 months on a job that no one else wanted to do just because it was 6 months in Europe. (excuse me???? What exactly is the problem?) Being paid to go travel seems to me the best option.
For any trip it is important to set a budget and then stay within it. However, as the planning for that trip commences, it may also be necessary to adjust the budget. For example, on our last trip to London I searched for some time for lodging. I wanted to stay in one of several areas of town, more centrally located than my last two visits. I finally located a hotel, made the reservations, and then called (yeah for Skype!) to ask if we could drop our luggage a few days early, as our plans included one more side trip beyond London. They assured me it would be no problem (and also a daily charge).
We found the place and from the outside it was all I had hoped for. Once inside I realized that there had been some trickery with the photography. The hallway was very narrow. Walking down the stairs to the lower level reception area required carrying the suitcase in front of the body…there was no space to hold it normally. We dropped the bags and went on.
The discussion then ensued about what we thought actual room sizes could be. While at our next destination I spent a bit more time researching, upped the budget considerably and assured availability to change the hotel reservation. I then called the first place and was told my deposit would not be reimbursed. So warned, I told them we would be there for one night and one night only. It was a good decision.
My point? Make sure your budget matches your comfort level and lifestyle. At our age, we are no longer going to backpack nor sleep on the ground. We prefer a certain level of comfort.
My next point is about activities at your destination. When I was small my parents took the family on an annual trip around the United States. We camped, first in a tent and then in a small van-size RV, and by the time I had stopped traveling with my parents I had been to 45 states. It was great. But there were places my sister and I wanted to go that were never explored because they cost money. We never went to Disneyland and my parents eschewed tourist traps. All those signs heading to Florida, for example, touting South of the Border, were to be ignored. I finally stopped there as an adult and you know what? If you like to pay a lot for junk made in some third world country and greasy fried food, be my guest. My parents were right on that one!
However, I have learned that although I can read my guidebook in Paris to decide which of the many museums to visit or which metro line to use to head to the marche aux puces, the private guided tour of the back streets of the Marais helped me better understand the history and the culture of the modern city. Yes, a private tour costs more than a bus tour with 40 other people that drives by a multitude of sites. But the opportunity to ask questions, to slow down in certain areas of interest and walk on by a site that is not appealing is the very definite benefit of the service level of a private tour.
My point? Make sure your budget provides enough for you to explore in a manner that will help you understand where you are visiting.
If you are planning a huge trip, do it right!If you can’t afford the vacation you want, postpone it. Save more money. Go the next year. GO! Enjoy!