At one point in time the travel industry equated budget travel with backpacking, dormitory sleeping and hitch-hiking, but today with so many Baby Boomers roaming the world, things have changed. On budget travel tips zero in on the big three expenditures.
Transport. Accommodation. Food.
Budget Travel Tips.
Have you ever wished you could live another person’s life for a while? The grass is always greener…
Housesitting openly encourages us to live a different life for an agreed amount of time.
It’s fun and apart from transport to the destination, doesn’t cost a cent.
It ticks so many of our boxes, that it tops our list.
The Housesitter’s part of the deal. To look after the house and much loved pets as instructed by the owner. This is arranged and talked about before the housesit is accepted, so there is no worry about entering into something you’re not comfortable with. There are so many different forms of housesitting assignments out there, so keep looking till one that appeals comes up.
The Homeowner’s part of the deal. To provide free accommodation. Sometimes the family car is offered and unless another arrangement is agreed to, the home-owner provides all food and medication for their pets. Usually homeowners encourage the use of pantry items, but they will volunteer this. It’s good form to replace everything used.
Housesitting creates the opportunity to explore an area in detail. Our Spanish housesit gave us the chance to explore the magnificent Alhambra.
Foreign housesits off the beaten track, lack city amenities but pay-dirt is attending unheard of festivals, meeting local artists and riding buses with the villagers (much fun). Most homeowners will introduce you to their neighbours and leave written tips on things to see and do. They may even take you sight-seeing, introduce you to shop keepers or take you to their favourite bar before they leave.
The heart-stealer below was born in Spain but
spoke understood English as her rescuers were English expats.
Lulu – The heart-stealer
Value Add to your Housesit
After securing the appointment (we use Trusted Housesitters) start planning. It is time to Upsize and Value Add. Research surrounding countries and plan further travels to book-end the sitting job.
In 2012 we secured Housesit for two weeks in the mountains near Granada, then after finding a $40 AUD Ryan Air fare, flew to Marrakech for one week then on to Lisbon for five days and back to Barcelona for three more days. The trip began and ended in Barcelona which kept the cost of the flight low.
Having (say) two weeks of relatively quiet house-sit time in the middle of a long trip is like having a bonus holiday – the accommodation is free – just chill and relax with the pets.
Pre-book all flights to secure cheap fares.
Low Cost Airlines
LCC’s can be sticklers about luggage rules. Pre-pay for luggage – it costs half as much and saves the embarrassment of being pulled out of the boarding line while it is sorted out. Similarly keep carry-on within their limits which are displayed on the booking site.
Car Rentals – Arrive Early
We book our car rentals through an on-line broker (like Economy Car Rentals). We found by trial and error that the cheapest on-line rates are achieved by leaving the pick-up and drop-off times as suggested in their portal.
Most certainly return by the allotted tim (although up to one hour late returning might be excused) but I suggest arriving at least an hour early if possible. Like most lessons in life we discovered this by mistake. Our Siracusan host dropped us at the Car Rental early as it fitted in with school drop off for his daughter. Fully intending to drop our bags and return at the designated time, we were surprised to be given the vehicle then and there.
We were asked if we wanted the drop-off time amended to match the pick-up time but chose to leave it the same thereby gaining an extra 1.5 hours Gratis. If you are ready and waiting it makes sense to arrive early, in the worst case just leave your luggage and grab a coffee nearby. The staff possibly even appreciate having one car gone before the mad rush. It is worth considering if only as a time saving ruse.
Arrive Early to collect a Rental Car
Use Local Airbnb’s
As an Airbnb user you can choose to share a host’s home (cheaper option) or rent the whole apartment. Comfort wise it’s good to alternate between these two options, but there is a growing trend to stay with the host. This reduces the amount of apartments taken up by tourists freeing up more for the local population.
At first we were hesitant to stay with a host, but surprisingly we both love it!
While chatting over the breakfast table or anytime really, we have precious glimpses into local life. It goes without saying that hosts are sociable people. They know how to make you feel at ease and are happy to have as little or as much contact as you desire. Guests may have their own entrance separate to the main house, or their room might be situated at the end of a corridor for privacy, possibly with sole use of bathroom.
Day tours offer insights into how locals live, but when you live with a local you get the real deal!
In Siracusa we stayed with a Marionettist and his family. His creativity, preparation and dedication to his craft and performance was inspiring and we were honoured when he put on an early in the season street performance so we wouldn’t miss out.
Before the Show, while the Puppet (a drunkard) was still asleep.
On the Croatian Island of Vis our host showed us how to grill fish over coals made from burned grape vine cuttings. First the fish was marinated in oil from our host’s own olives, and when cooked was washed down with wine from his own grapes (the wine was made and stored beneath our room). Accompanied by a simple mash of cooked zucchini, potato, garlic and olive oil, we both agreed it was the finest fish meal in Croatia.
Preparing the Coals on Vis Island
Eat Well and Save – Pack an Esky or Cooler
In Italy we knew we would be taking a six (possibly eight) hour train trip from Salerno, near the Amalfi Coast to Taormina in Sicily. Reviews revealed that the train did not have a dining carriage nor did it stop in order to purchase food.
Hmmm. What to do?
We purchased an $8 soft esky in Australia which folded flat. Departing our Salerno Airbnb, we popped a frozen water bottle into the cold pack along with juice and home made salami and salad rolls and snacks. There was some serious food envy happening when we produced our cold pack lunch.
The esky proved excellent on road trips in Sicily, Slovenia, Croatia, BiH and Montenegro too. It saved us a fortune, we could eat whenever and wherever we fancied!
Pekara, Pekarna, Piekarna – The name varies but they all mean Bakery in Slovenia and Croatia. A lunch from a Pekarna might be freshly cooked pizza slice, cheese or meat burek or filled breadrolls. A Pekarna lunch rarely exceeds 12 AUD for two people. For the sweet tooth (I’m looking at you Marty) there are cherry strudels, sweet filled croissants and dough balls at an extra cost. Pekarnas are usually situated near public transport and beside a bar with affordable coffee.
Drink Wine not Water
It is quite common for Delicatessens in Italy to have two stainless steel wine vats – one Bianco one Rosso. New plastic bottles can be purchased and filled, or even better BYO bottle. Wine purchased like this is ridiculously cheap and very drinkable.
Did you Know?
In Croatia wine is the cheapest drink to order, followed by beer, then soft drink/bottled water, then other drinks like Campari Spritz. My husband drinks Tonic and in our 10 Weeks in Europe his tonic was, in all cases bar one, more expensive than my wine or beer.
In Spain beer/wine is ridiculously cheap and comes with free tapas in many cases.
Drink Wine not Beer or Tonic
Although I like to pre-book accommodation it does work well to include a non-booked segment (preferably in a country where accommodation costs are low and not in peak season).
Finding last minute accommodation in Croatia, BiH and Montenegro
When planning our last trip we left a space of four nights with no pre-booked accommodation. This was fortuitous because on our first day winging it, there was a huge hold up on the coastal road between Split and Dubrovnik, which led in turn to a scenic but long mountain detour. We had thought to be in BiH on our first night out from Split, but instead were still on the Croatian coast.
No booking = no problem.
There were numerous people standing surreptitiously by the road holding Room to Rent signs and eventually we pulled into a vertically challenged coastal town that charged a fortune for street parking. A local entrepreneur approached us with a cheap off-road parking deal which he quickly altered to a cheap room with free parking deal. Easy Peasy and only 40 Euro for the night! He also acted as a tour guide telling us about the local area and pointing out a good place to eat, right on the water.
The unexpected delay resulted in us arriving in Trebinje, BiH, late the next day. It was a fantastic little town with a large hotel overflowing with Turkish and Korean Bus Trippers. From the outside it looked somewhat institutional, but within it was luxurious in an austere dated way. With all the standard rooms taken we were offered a Suite for only 55 euro and ordered beautifully cooked meals from the kitchen for dinner. Breakfast was free and extensive like the ones we had experienced in Turkey. Talk about lucking out. Even better was that we had no BiH currency and were able to book everything to the room and pay by American Express!
The next two nights found us in Kotor, Montenegro. At a tourist information point we collected a map and mentioned we were also looking for accommodation. One of the girls catapulted from her chair and joined us outside the booth. Calls were made and her brother arrived pronto on a motorbike to guide us to the family hotel and the steepest ever carpark. The family was gorgeous – Dad made us the thickest black “Turkish” coffee to welcome us. Their hotel was booked out for the next night but with our newfound spontaneity it was another case of – no plans – no problem. Later we did decide to stay a second night in Kotor, so they transferred us to a relative’s apartment just down the hill. Both were friendly budget options with air-conditioning, kitchen, bathroom, washing machine and terrace.
Spontaneity can be fun.
Hotel Leotar, Trebinje, BiH
I love hearing tips from other travellers and I hope that some of the above will come in handy when you are planning, or unplanning your next trip! I’d love if you would share some travel tips in the comments. If I use any in future posts I will provide a link back to you!
This post is linked to Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday over at Budget Travelers Sandbox.
Join in the fun and add your link.