Reasonable Frugality is a Virtue

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    Leaving home for any holiday will cost you more than staying home.  Most of us have a specific budget for our big annual holiday and we look for ways to keep costs in a reasonable and affordable range whilst we’re away.  Here are a few tips for keeping costs down that you might not have thought of.

    Shop Around

    Whether it’s for flights, auto rentals, accommodations, or tickets to shows, shop around.  You’ll be amazed at what you might find on the third or fourth attempt to fill in a morning by looking through some online sites.  We found tickets to a rehearsal concert for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.  Our seats were in the third balcony but we were above the stage so we saw both the conductor and the musicians.  We heard the conductor instructing the musicians after the run-through of the pieces.  The rehearsal concert was better in our minds than the actual concert would have been at one-tenth the cost!

    Casinos

    A holiday that is not specifically, and by definition, a casino holiday should be one in which you don’t so much as walk into a casino.  There are casinos everywhere and they do their best to entice you in.  If you want to play a few casino games whilst on holiday, do them after you’ve had a full day “on holiday” and play online.  Thousands of online casinos offer great and quick online gaming without the razzle dazzle of a land based casino. You’ll find it quick and easy to have some fun playing at Grande Vegas Casino online whilst anyone who has been to Las Vegas knows that it’s much more difficult to actually step out of a Vegas casino!

    Car Rental

    It should be obvious that we rent a car only if we’re going to travel outside a city.  Within the city, we either walk, take a taxi, or public transport.

    The cost per day of renting for a week is usually less than the per day cost for renting for six days.  Call a rental company or write to them.  Find out if your credit card covers your auto rental insurance.

    Also, be realistic as to the size of the car you’ll need.  One variable is boot space.  If the car you can most easily afford, and is a proper size for your legs, doesn’t have the amount of boot space you need, it’s a sign that you’re taking too much in the way of luggage.  You can wash some clothes if need be to save a substantial amount renting a bigger car just for the boot!

    Finally, always rent online as the rates at the desk are far higher.

    Flights

    Here it depends on where you’re flying to and from.  Flights with long layovers are usually a lot cheaper than quicker flights.  If you choose to take a cheaper flight with a long layover, choose a long enough layover that you can leave the airports and enjoy your layover city.

    If you need more leg room, it’s a lot cheaper to pay extra for bulkhead seats in coach rather than pop for business class seats.  Bulkhead seats have various names depending on the airline and they are always a few pounds more expensive than regular coach seats whilst offering a lot more leg room.

    Restaurants

    You’ll want to sample the local cuisine.  Some restaurants purport to serve the best local food but cater primarily to tourists and jack up their prices accordingly.  Try to find truly local restaurants that cater to a primarily local clientele.  The waitpersons might not speak good English but the food will be more authentic and quite a bit cheaper.

    We always try to rent an apartment when we travel so we can prepare food on our own.  This leads to…

    Accommodations

    Hotels are the most expensive accommodations generally for travelers.  There are now many online sites that offer apartments for rent.  These have great advantages, amongst them facilities for breakfast.  You can save quite a sum eating breakfast on your own.

    If you can suffice with sandwiches for lunch, that’s another way to save and a normal refrigerator will hold a lot more food and drink than the tiny refrigerators you get these days in hotels.

    Travel Offseason

    This is not always possible, especially if there are schoolchildren involved.  Two adults, however, should always try to schedule a trip for the offseason.  Our friend planned a long honeymoon trip for his daughter and her new husband in the United States.  They were within a few hours’ drive from Disney World in Florida but it was the end of August.  He rearranged their schedule so they got to Disney World after school had restarted and they never had to wait in queue in the park at all!

    It might be colder in the offseason so take with a heavy sweater or a coat but the cost will be remarkably lower and everything will be a lot less crowded.

    We travelled to Lake Garda in June and whilst there were tourists, we were told that in one month’s time, the roads would be clogged with cars and every attraction would be bursting with tourists.

    Concerts

    Many cities have free concerts going on.  In Prague, there may be several concerts going on at the same time on any given evening.  As was the case with the rehearsal concert, keep looking for cheap music.

    We found an Irish pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts with free Irish music.  We ate dinner there one night and stayed afterwards for more than two hours drinking great beer and enjoying the music.  This sort of thing goes on everywhere.

    Museums

    Some people love museums and some hate them but almost everyone has something they would like to see a museum about.  Be realistic about what you want.  A good and interesting museum is well worth the price of admission and many are free one day a week.

    Going Cheap Doesn’t Mean Being Cheap

    Just try to be realistic.  Buy souvenirs and gifts for those back home in places they (and you) might not have expected to find a souvenir.  The worst places to find souvenirs are souvenir stands and gift shops.

    By the way, we found that the worst coffee in the area of Italy we were in last year was in a gift shop!  I’m just saying…..

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