Seven Tips for Frugal Traveling

Since I’ll be heading out of town in a couple of days, I thought it would be wise to look at some of the issues of traveling and frugality. It’s tempting to throw your budget into the toilet when you’re on vacation, but unfortunately, there are always consequences. Anyone remember that old American Express commercial where a couple of stranded travelers try to get their bags off of the plane and can’t, then proceed to charge a bunch of fun? What we don’t remember–because we weren’t shown what happened–was how much less fun it looked when the bill showed up.

Traveling is tough financially and not just because of the skyrocketing price of fuel. You’re often a captive audience. Just like a movie theater, stores in the airport can charge you whatever you want because it’s about the only game in town. Same for the restaurants there; the Burger King in Honolulu International Airport tends to charge about a buck per sandwich more than one outside the airport.

You also have the challenge of getting on your plane or train, and with the airlines charging for checking bags as well as checking the weight on them very closely and charging you appropriately for “excess” weight, you have yet more opportunities to break out your wallet. Twenty five bucks for checking a bag and more for weight over 50 pounds has become almost a norm in the airline industry.

Once you’re on a plane or a train, you’re definitely captive. And it’s not just food, it’s also things like headphones. Let’s face it, being on mass transit can be horribly boring, so entertainment is also an area that can hit your pocketbook. What can you do to try to turn the odds in your favor?

~ Eat beforehand: have a meal before you head out. That’ll at last help you keep the hunger pangs at bay for awhile. Don’t make yourself uncomfortable, but try to make yourself at least a bit full before hitting the road.

~ Take a snack: Breakfast bars and string cheese are two examples of snacks that you can put in your pocket or bag to munch along the way, and of course, you can also make your own. They’re definitely cheaper and healthier than buying candy bars from the snack bar on the train or the convenience store in the airport.

~ Water is your friend: Definitely the cheapest beverage out there, and possibly the healthiest.

~ Bring something to amuse yourself: A portable DVD player, notebook computer, iPod, or Kindle are the high tech ways but books and magazines would also work. You can also get adapters for the headphone jacks on most airline seats to work with standard earphones or earbuds.

~ Be careful with your weight: Not yours, your bag’s. With more and more airlines charging fees for bags, be very careful about how much your bags weigh. Consider shipping things by postal mail to your destination if you have enough time; it could be cheaper!

~ Pockets can be your friend: Things like the Scott Evest vest or the 511 Tactical pants with tons of pockets can help you carry more onto a plane than you can imagine. This will help you with the weight restrictions on bags.

~ Rest! You’re on vacation! Take a nap on the train or plane. You’re not driving or flying!

What are some of your frugal travel tips?

48 Responses to “Seven Tips for Frugal Traveling”

  1. The Conscious Snobon 20 Jul 2008 at 11:30 am

    I definitely am packing much lighter now when I fly. Mainly it’s due to trying to more simple instead of trying to bring everything in sight with me. I also carry a few dry snacks with me, such as granola bars or fruit, food that can keep me sustained during the checking in, waiting, flight, and waiting for the ride.

  2. joeon 21 Jul 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Bring something to amuse yourself and keep the bag weight down by loading some reading onto your cell phone. http://www.booksinmyphone.com gives away a range of books packaged up to run in regular cell phones, a book as a java game. You can afford to take a wide selection without weight or space penalty.

    If you have internet connectivity on your phone you can browse for and install a book in about 30 seconds from their mobile site ( mobile.booksinmyphone.com) otherwise they have support for installing via a PC from the regular web site.

  3. adminon 21 Jul 2008 at 10:11 pm

    We’ll see how I do with traveling. I spent a lot of time yesterday packing and seem more ahead than usual. Of course, my mom helps me pack (she has a tendency to pack weird stuff like shaving cream–which I never use–or toilet paper–because… Kansas City has a shortage? I dunno), but even considering that I was done really early this time.

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