Category Archives: Travel

Milan and Rome

I will do a more coherent summary post (with pictures) when I get back to Canada, but for now, I will just be writing little tid bits of thoughts.

We spent 3 days in Milan, and it was definitely the most metropolitan city in Italy. We didn’t do to much sight seeing, as the thought of yet another museum or art gallery or church, just didn’t really resonate with me. So instead, we shopped, people watched, and ate :).

I even rented a bike with my sister and we biked around a park and castle all afternoon, only stopping for gelato breaks, of course. That was the highlight of Milan for me, hands down.

I’ve been in Rome for about a week now, which is a bit too long for my liking. There is a tonne of sites to visit, but I don’t feel like I am really seeing the soul or core of Rome – if that makes any sense. I am also feeling a bit homesick, and a little “traveled out” for lack of a better phrase.

I still miss my bed (I’ve been staying in hostels to save on costs – Europe is so expensive!), my apartment, my city, and my day-to-day activities, such as cooking and blogging.

Luckily for me, BF will be joining me in Rome in 2 days, and I think that my home sickness will be much better.

I will leave you with a picture of the crowds at the Vatican Museum. So. Many. People.

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Florence, Italy

My sisters and I spent the last three days exploring the beautiful city of Florence. It is the home of many of the great Renaissance artists, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, to name a few. But one does by have to be an arts major to appreciate the beauty of Florence. It’s a city that is best experienced through walking it’s streets, consuming its delicious cuisine, and people watching.

We spent my first evening at a little Italian restaurant. As the waiter was pouring wine, one of the girls didn’t drink and said no thanks. Our waiter was so shocked, he took a step aback. But wine is part of the meal! It is part of life! It is good for the body and it makes people happy!

She couldn’t refuse his plea, and agreed to just a bit of wine. ūüôā

The next day, I decided to take in the art at the Ufizi gallery of Renaissance art. Unfortunately, I know nothing of art history, and after my 15th Mary and Baby Jesus, I was a little bored. I may have taken a short nap, while resting in one of the chairs in the gallery… What surprised me about the art gallery, was that I found the depiction of nudity of women in many of the Renaissance works was really beautiful. Such a contrast to what I associate with nudity.

After the art gallery, we went to a little pizzeria which was just so delicious! The chefs even made our pizzas in heart shapes!

We spent the afternoon sauntering through the royal gardens, which was one of my favorite parts of Florence. The garden is huge and it was not so meticulously groomed that it looked like it tried too hard, but was still beautiful. I may have taken a few naps just lying on the grass, listening to the trickling of the water fountain, and enjoying the sweet floral scents.

This beautiful sunset across the river was a beautiful way to remember my time in Florence.

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Italy

I am writing this post from my iPod and have no idea how the formatting will turn out, so please excuse me if this turns out wonky.

Having spent the last 48 hours in Italy, I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable.

I started off my trip in Rome. I learned my first lesson at the airport currency exchange – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The exchange rate was 1.413 euros to 1 CND. I debated converting $100 or $200 to get me started and get better rates in town.

At the rate above, I would get about 140 euros. So when I heard 180 from the lady, I thought that I must have done some crazy wrong math. Turns out she said 108, which includes a 19.70% commission and an additional flat rate. Ouch.

I will try not to dwell on that thought much. I just felt that I should have known better and asked her to write out the numbers to clarify.

But onto Rome.

Rome felt like a city that has been somehow dropped and merged into the landscape of another era. I walk along the windy streets and there are huge stone walls. I imagine these walls must have served to protect the city during times of war in Rome’s great past. And now I get to stand outside of it! It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Lesson learned.

I just arrived in Florence and am off to explore the city. It’s funny all the things that remind you of home when you are halfway across the world. For instance, I ordered a Big Mac and didn’t have to speak a word of Italian.

Don’t worry, I won’t be eating many big macs with the amazing food in Italy. It was just re closest and cheapest restaurant in the train station where I had just missed my train! ūüėČ

I leave you with a post of a view from my hostel. I just love the architecture!!

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On Packing Light(er)

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Some Background

I used to be a really heavy packer.¬† When I moved abroad to Southeast Asia for an exchange, I brought with me 2 huge 1960’s style full of … stuff.¬† Granted, I was going for 4 months, but that was definitely the days prior to the birth of minimalist Frugirl.

Traveling around in Asia with my friends, who were much more minimalistic than myself, I learned to pack only what was really important.¬† Some of my “high points” was a 3 week trip across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in just a school backpack, and also a 5-week trip across Egypt with by girl friends with a 50L pack.

Some Inspiration

Some great inspiration from the blogosphere are the very fashionable ladies at Extra Petite and Fabulously Broke.  They have a lot of great tips and posts on how one can pack lightly while staying stylish, so I encourage you to check them out, before packing for your next trip!

4-days, 3-nights Boston Trip

This weekend, BF and I are taking a last-minute trip to one of my favourite cities in the world – Boston.

I just finished packing my bags last night, and snapped a few pictures to share with you my packing experience. I tried to pack light and still keep my outfits fun and make-up. ūüôā

BF will be going for a quasi-business trip, and we are making a mini-vacation out of it.  So most of my clothes are casual wear for comfort and (some) warmth.

Everything fits into my “Longchamp” look-alike brown (Roots – $35) gym bag and I will also be bringing along an over the shoulder purse.

What I Packed – Clothes

This is what I am bringing with me, and that indistinguishable pile at the back is what I will be wearing during the flight and our first day there.   The clothes that are rolled up will be packed and this includes:

  • 1 pair of¬† dark rinse skinny jeans
  • 2 cardigans
  • 3 short sleeve t-shirts
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts
  • 2 skinny belts
  • 1 scarf (not shown)
  • 1 pair of ankle boots
  • 1 pair of knee high flat boots (not shown)
  • 4 sets of under garments and socks (not shown)
  • 1 sleeping shirt
  • 1 pair of yoga pants
  • cute hat (not shown)

What I Packed – Toiletries and Make-up

I got this wonderful make-up back just this weekend (for only $5!), and I am really happy with it.

For some reason, it’s really hard for me to find a make-up bag that can hold all my toiletries and my make-up.¬† The ones that I have are either too big, or too small, and usually not enough compartments to keep everything organized.

I thought it would also be a great time to test out the Marcelle BB Cream and Joe Fresh cheek tint to save some space.  I left my usual primer, tinted moisturizer, blotting powder, blush  and large brushes at home.

Here’s what’s in my make-up bag:

  • Small bottles of: cleanser, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, acne medication, toothpaste, contact lens solution, and make-up remover
  • Marcelle BB cream, 3 eye shadows, 1 cheek tint, 3 lip glosses, 2 lip sticks,¬† 1 brow palette, 1 liquid liner, 3 pencil liners.
  • Tools: 3 eye shadow brushes, 9 cotton pads, foldable brush, toothbrush.

Miscellaneous

I brought along another foldable (fake Longchamp by Chatelaine) bag for shopping :).¬† You can see it peaking from behind my make-up bag.¬†¬† Most of the rest of the items are things I’d usually have in my purse anyway:

  • Sunglasses
  • Leather gloves
  • Ear muffs
  • Passport
  • Wallet
  • Small digital camera
  • iPod Touch and charger
  • More lipglosses ūüôā
  • Eye drops
  • Contact lens and glasses case

Since we were traveling to the US, we didn’t convert any currency, and just used our credit cards everywhere.¬† I did take out $60 cash from a bank machine –¬† TD has machines there you can use – but we didn’t really need the cash.

Conclusion

Here’s everything all packed away.

I really enjoy not checking any bags, and I feel kinda like a celebrity breezing through with my minimal baggage, while everyone else waits for their bags to be dropped off ūüôā

I still brought a little too much – I could have re-worn some shirts, I really didn’t need two pair of shoes, and I definitely could have eased up on the lip sticks ;), but I’m on vacation and wearing lipstick is fun!

Stay tuned for What I Bought in Boston! ūüôā¬† Any bets on if I blew my $250 budget?

Readers, how do you like to pack for vacation?

Cheers,

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Hong Kong Trip Expenses

I mentioned briefly that I was recently on vacation in Hong Kong.  My family and I spent 2 weeks in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is a pretty small place and to spend 2 weeks there might be a bit much, but we really enjoyed our time there.

When I travel, I really enjoy staying in one place and really get know the area and culture. Even though, seeing attractions can be fun, in moderation, I really enjoy just “pretending” to be a local when I travel – I try to eat what locals eat, travel the way locals do (i.e., public transit), and people watch.

Being the PF blogger of the family (at least, I think I am…), I tallied up my expenses and am getting ready to take that amount out of my “travel fund”.

Air fare – $1,313.83

We bought out tickets back in July when there was a 15% promotion.  I learned from a friend there was a September Seat Sale where tickets were selling for around $1,100 Р$1,200 that next time, I will know to wait for.

Accommodations – $368.56

I rented an apartment through Wimdu for the duration of 13 days we stayed.  This worked out well, since hotels averaged $85 Р$100 per night per room and we would need 2 rooms for my family. Our apartment was in the heart of Hong Kong and super convenient and accessible to transit, restaurants and of course, shopping.

Full review of my experience booking accommodations with Wimdu coming up!

Shopping – $1,190

This includes a tailored 3-peice suit and skirt, I got custom made at Sam’s (famous Hong Kong tailor) for $640.¬† I also bought a pair of glasses as it was cheaper to buy them in Hong Kong than to buy a pair in Canada and go through my medical benefits.¬† I also went a little crazy at Sasa – a make-up chain in Hong Kong that is seriously like Sephora on crack.

I will do a separate shopping post on the clothes and make-up I bought complete with photographs ūüôā

Food – $132.22

I can understand why Hong Kong people can be such food snobs.  The food there is so cheap and so good!

Mostly, we went out to eat because our apartment did not have a full kitchen, but we did buy take-out to eat at home several times.

I finally tried stinky tofu.¬† It like a deep fried spongy tofu, but it doesn’t stink when you eat it.¬† The smell comes from the cooking process.¬† So, I will definitely eat stinky tofu, again, but I will not be standing in line for it.

Transportation – $106.10

Public transportation is great in Hong Kong Рseriously one of the greatest transit systems in the world.  It is clean, efficient and affordable.

We bought a tourist pass when we arrived at the airport.  It provides transportation via the Airport express to and from the airport.  It also provides unlimited travel on the subway for the first 3 days and a booklet of coupons to tourist attractions.

We also took trams, buses, ferries and the occasional taxi.¬† I love the options of public transit ūüôā¬† My favourite mode of transportation is riding the tram and the Star ferry – I love the views!

Attractions – $62.50

I usually see a few attractions when I travel, but I don’t have to always see all the sites.¬† It’s just not my favourite thing to do.

In Hong Kong, we went to see the Big Buddha, Lantau Island and Ocean Park.¬† I’m not a huge fan of amusement parks, but I really wanted to see the pandas!

Total Hong Kong Trip Damage – $3,173.21

Overall, I am pretty happy and relieved that I was able to keep it around $3,000.  I was really afraid that accommodations was going to be through the roof, since we were spending so long in a pretty expensive city.

In fact, if I didn’t go a bit crazy in the shopping department, I would have kept it under $3,000.

So there you have it!

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East Coast Canada Vacation Budget Recap

If you want to skip the number crunching and just look at some pretty pictures, check out my sneak peak post here.  For the numbers, read on.

PF Confession: I admit that I don’t usually budget for vacations.

I mean, I kinda know how much they cost, but I haven’t really sat down to crunch the numbers with BF before a vacation.¬† This time, I did a back-of-napkin rough calculation for our 10 day trip, and I was a little appalled at how even a domestic trip can be so expensive.

Luckily, BF and I came under budget but there is definitely room for improvement. Let’s take a look at the numbers. These numbers are my part of the trip only.

Actual Vacation Expense $1,704.34

Flights

The Airlines were having a 30% off sale at the time we were traveling.  Unfortunately, we missed the 40% off sale by one day.  Drats!  Train tickets were also on sale when we booked them for 50% off.  Score!

Taking the train was really nice and a highlight of our trip.¬† BF and I got to do some reading while enjoying the scenery, and we also had a nice lunch on the dining car.¬† It felt very fancy and historical – like we stepped back to the 1920’s.¬† Definitely recommend this.

Accommodations

We stayed 10 nights.¬† Two nights were “free” since BF paid with reward points.¬† One night, we stayed in a university dorm room.¬† The rest were a combination of B&B and Inns which ranged between $110 to $120 a night.

I tried to use my Entertainment book to get some savings, but I don’t think there was too much out east that had deals.¬† I’m thinking if we had booked our hotels ahead of time, we may have been able to score some deals.¬† However, since we only stayed a couple nights in each place, it’s hard to say.

Food

BF and I ate out a lot. A. Lot.¬† It’s something that we both enjoy doing and we really take advantage of it during vacations.

We had too much a lot of great seafood for lunch and dinner (at times).  We also started our obsession with lobster in the most expensive city of Halifax (~$40 for 1.5lb) and ended our journey in the cheapest town of Alma (~$7/lb).

However, it is difficult to cook in B&B’s and certain hotels.¬† Next time, we may try to stay in a place with a kitchenette and stay longer.¬† That way we can cook more of our meals.¬† We definitely could have saved some cash by planning and making¬† our lunches.

Attractions

I had budgeted for a fair amount of bicycle rental and attractions, but we actually ended up doing very little of either.  Most days were pretty gloomy, wet and cold, so we ended up walking or driving.

This included our tickets for the Alexander Keith Brewery tour and admission to Bay of Fundy’s Hopewell Rocks.¬†¬† Luckily for us, we visited Green Gables and the beach on “Park Day”, and didn’t have to pay for any admission tickets (~$35).

Car Rental & Gas

Car rental was pretty expensive.  Since BF and I were renting the car from the airport location, we paid a premium (+16%).  Since we were not returning the car to the airport, we paid another $50 for drop-off fee. Ouch.

Looking back, we didn’t really need our car for the 2 days we spent in Halifax.¬† Most attractions around the city are within walking distance of our hotel, so we could have saved almost 2 days worth of rental and the stupid airport fees (~$170) – ouch.

Oh well, live and learn, right?

Gifts

I bought Anne dolls for my sisters, a bottle of wild blue berry juice for my parents and a post card for myself.

Conclusion

I was able to spend less than I originally anticipated – which is great, but we spent more than what BF had in mind.

BF and I agreed that there were things we could have done to save money and would not have affected the enjoyment of our trip too much.  We could have done a bit more planning for accommodations and meals, and of course, our car rental.

It was a vacation, after all, so I am trying not to beat myself up over it.  I am glad we had a little recap so that we can better plan our next vacation in a way that is both enjoyable for us and our wallets.

How much do you plan and budget for vacations?  What are some tips or suggestions you have for me and BF?

Cheers,

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The Real Cost of a Road Trip

This summer, I’ve gone on my fair share of road trips.¬† Between camping, cottages, and my vacation on the west coast, I’ve started thinking about the “real” cost of a road trip and how to split the cost fairly between all parties.

Splitting the Cost of Gas

Usually, if there is a person in the group who has a car, it is not unusual for that person to be driving and all parties splitting the cost of gas.  Just a few weekends ago, I drove my friends up to a beautiful cottage.

Round trip, we drove approximately 500km.  Total cost for gas? $57.

Is that Fair Reimbursement?

Prior to driving a car and maintaining a car, I would have not given this a second thought. I mean, even without this road trip, the driver would have had to pay for insurance and maintenance, anyway, right?

However, after maintaining and driving my (parent’s) car for almost 2 years, I think that by just reimbursing the driver for gas is simply not acknowledging the true cost for transportation.

What about the Overhead Costs?

For those of us who drive, we all pay for insurance, the cost of the car (sometimes, car payments or leases), maintenance (oil change, tune ups, winter tires, etc.), and don’t forget about depreciation.¬† How much does this all add up to?

There are many ways to go about making this calculation, depending on the gas mileage, the make of car, details about the driver, etc.  Here is one way to calculate it.

When I use my car for business purposes, I get reimbursed $0.50 per kilometer.  Is it fair to use that as a base point for the cost of driving?

Worst Case Scenario

Car accidents are common place, especially during long weekends. The greater the distance you drive, the more chances there is of you getting in an accident or having some damage to your car.

If I got in an accident on the road trip, who would pay for it?  What if my insurance premiums were increased, as a result of the accident?

I think I am a careful driver (oh, don’t we all say that?).¬†¬† But sh*t happens.

In Favour of Car Rental

That’s why I am always in favour of splitting car rentals, especially now that I have a car.¬† Since I now know the real cost of driving a car, I think it’s only fair that everyone shares in the true costs of taking a road trip.

Car rental rates include the cost of using a car and have an insurance option (if your credit card does not include it).  Sure, the cost of transportation for the road trip may have increased by a factor of 2 or 3, but I think that truly reflects the cost of transportation.

Exceptions

Maybe if all parties had their own cars and didn’t mind taking turns driving, the costs would be evened out.

How do you split road trip car costs?¬† Do you prefer driving your own car or renting?¬† I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Cheers,

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East Coast Canada Sneak Peak

I haven’t had a chance to go through all of BF’s and my photo’s yet, but here are a few quickies I grabbed from his Google+ account for a sneak peak.

Nova Scotia

We went to see the Alexander Keith’s Brewery in Halifax.¬† We agreed it was like paying $20 to watch a 45 minute long commercial for the beer.¬† But it was thoroughly entertaining ūüôā

We started our food journey and had seafood every lunch and dinner! Never have I had so much seafood in my life Рso fresh and delicious!  We especially loved visiting the fishing villages and eating at the mom and pop restaurants.

We spent about 2.5 days on the Cabot Trail and drove all the way to the northern most point of Cape Breton.  It was so beautiful out here.  We drove along the moutainside next to the coast.  At times, you look over and all you see is a drop straight down to the ocean!  It was both scary and beautiful at the same time.

Prince Edward Island

We spent one day in Charlottetown. We visited a beautiful Gothic church.  The workmanship and detail is extraordinary.  I loved the beautiful high arches and the stained glass is magnificent.

We also visited Province House.  This was when Canada first became a nation  with four province РPrince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, known as the four fathers of Confederation.  Province House is still in use today.

We also crossed Confederation Bridge.  This bridge was built in 1997, spans 13km long and cost $1 billion to construct.  It is the longest bridge in the world crossing ice-covered water.  It is truly an engineering achievement of the 20th century.

I also visited Green Gables.  Seeing the outside of Green Gables and walking along Lovers Lane was really neat (my favourite part).  I probably built up the house too much in my head, because the inside of Green Gables just looked like an old (but really nicely restored) house.  We also went to the sand dune beach and I had a little nap along the ocean.

This was the closest I got to meeting Anne – she was busy playing Mr. Wolf with the kids. Hi, Anne! *waves*

New Brunswick

We visited the Bay of Fundy. Photographs to come as I learn how to convert RAW files to JPGs ūüôā

In Summary

BF and I had an amazing time and we would love to go back.  We are pretty lazy laid back travelers.  This may stem from too many intense back-packing trips when we tried to cram as much sights in as little time as possible during our college years.

We try to have 1 or 2 things at each place we want to see, then we just play it by ear (or stomach).   Our favourite thing to do in each new place is to eat and walk around.  We love exploring on foot Рkinda like a playground for big kids like us.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Our budget will be coming up!

What is your travel style?  Do you like to have a set itinerary or see everything?  Or do you prefer to take it easy?

Cheers,

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Stay-cation Recap

(Photo source)

You may remember in my budget for March and April, I set aside $300 for a mini-vacation for BF and I. ¬†Well, we finally got around to taking that vacation a few weekends back. ¬†At the last minute, we turned it into a staycation, and we couldn’t have been happier :).

A Sneak Peak at What we did

The weekend we stayed in the City was beautiful. ¬†Warm, and sunny. ¬†Just like how spring should be! ¬†We spread out some blankets on his amazing deck, soaked in the sun and drank some beer. ¬†I also attempted the newspaper’s crossword and Sodoku (my latest obsession). ¬†It was the perfect mini picnic.

Food

We had the perfect pizza at a little Italian pizzeria in Little Italy. ¬†If you’re ever in the City, please check out this Cafe/Pizzeria. ¬†The food was simple and yummy. ¬†It’s not fancy, but being inside made me feel like I was in a little cafe in Europe.

We discovered a new breakfast place in the Market.  This lovely crepe place had delicious crepe and coffee.  It was perfect for a rainy day.  Then, we curled up on the couch and watched way too much television.  We also made some delicious sandwiches Рavocado and jelapeno Havarti, anyone?

On Monday, our last day, we went for a walk and practiced some volleyball at the park. ¬†It felt so weird to be out and about when “everyone” was working. ¬†It reminded me of this post from Millionaire Mommy Next Door, of when Jen and her husband discovered they were millionaires, and they took a walk in the park while all their¬†neighbors were working.

Then, BF and I ended off our staycation with a wonderful meal at our favourite Thai restaurant.  Of course, I had to snap a few pictures to capture the moment.

Spending Recap

BF and I usually take turns paying, so this is just my portion of it.  I think we split things pretty 50/50.  I spent $131 that weekend on food.

Thoughts

This staycation worked well for us, because BF and I were able to spend time doing stuff with each other instead of driving a few hours each way. ¬†We also spent our money on food, food and more food, instead of accommodation, rental car, gas and food. ¬†I would still like to take a cabin adventure vacation, one day, but this staycation was pretty fun and more budget friendly. ūüôā

Have you done a staycation before?  What did you end up doing? 

Cheers,


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Travel Frugally not Cheaply

I love to travel, and I know that I’m really lucky to be able to travel as much as I do. ¬†I’ve backpacked through Egypt, Germany, and Southeast Asia. ¬†I’ve also traveled and lived in various places in North & South America.

My favourite parts of traveling is tasting the food, and experiencing the culture.   I love just spending hours getting lost and walking around every where.  Attractions are nice, but I usually only see one or two of the main ones (without long line ups!), and spend the rest of my time exploring.

Like most finer things in life, traveling can get really expensive.  Transportation, accommodation, food, site seeing, gifts Рit all adds up.  But with some planning, prioritizing, compromising and creativity, traveling anywhere can be fun, exciting, and frugal.

Last year, was a great year with many opportunities to travel.  I went to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit my sister during the Winter Olympics ($800), I visited BF in Venezuela during one of his projects ($600), BF and I visited Boston, Massachusetts at the end summer ($600), and we took a mini-vacation the weekend before Christmas holidays at Niagara Falls ($150).

Here are my frugal tips for traveling.

Transportation

1. Plan ahead.

Try to plan your trip as far ahead as possible, and keep tabs on flight costs so you know when there is a good deal, and snatch it up.  Figure out what type of flight your need.  A round trip flight, with fixed departure and return dates are usually the cheapest, but make sure that works with your schedule.  If you may need to change your return date, it might be more worth it to look into open ended tickets, as opposed to paying the charges for a flight change.

2. Fly during low seasons

During high seasons, flights can be more than double the low season price.

3. Use travel points

If you use your credit card a lot, or get reimbursed for work related expenses, those points add up really fast. ¬†If you always fly with group of airlines (i.e., Star Alliance), you may be able to rack up “status” with them and get free perks. ¬†I find this is most applicable for those of us who have the luxury of traveling for work.

4. Public Transportation

Once you’ve gotten to your destination, take advantage of the existing public transportation systems instead of relying on cabs, or rental cars. ¬†Not only will this save you a tonne of cash, you get to see more of the city and be “closer” to it’s people. ¬†Most major cities have public transit which can connect people from airports to the city core.

5. Walk

Walking is not only free and great exercise, you get to see and feel the city the most.  You can completely immerse yourself with the crowd, and pretend like you are one of them.  You also get to burn a tonne of calories, so that you can keep eating all the yummy food.

Accommodations

1. Stay Longer

If you’re only staying for one night, and moving every night, it’s pretty hard to negotiate a decent rate. ¬†If you’re staying at least 3 nights to a week, you can usually score a discount rate. ¬†It never hurts to ask.

2. Stay in hostels

Having traveled as a poor student, often times I stayed in sketchy interesting hostels. ¬†Make sure ¬†you ask for a tour first, so you can see if you feel comfortable staying there. ¬†Hostels work really well, if you don’t plan on spending much time in the hostel, and you don’t mind sharing your space. ¬†I find YMCA’s are really great, because they are very clean and they offer lots of options. ¬†Shared bathrooms also helps make getting ready faster, especially if you’re traveling with 5 girls.

3. Rent an apartment

I had no idea the plethora of short term apartment rentals until BF and I went to Normandy, France.  We rented a 2 bedroom apartment minutes away from a beach for an entire week for only $600.   In Vancouver, I stayed in a rented bedroom for only $30 a night.  Apartments usually are equipped with basic cooking utensils so you can also save money and cook some of your meals, too.

4. Use points

The good thing about redeeming travel points for hotels is that you can pay for it completely with points. ¬†Unlike booking a flight with points, you don’t have to pay the taxes, so there is no out-of-pocket cost (I am giving you the evil eye, Aeroplan).

Food

1. Prioritize

If there is a¬†Michelin¬†restaurant you are dying to try, then do it! ¬†But make sure that meal is special, and it’s not every meal. ¬†Plan to have one or two really (or three) nice meals, so you don’t feel “deprived”, if that ‘s what you value.

2. Pack food

Pack some water, crackers, bread or fruits with you on the go. ¬†These snacks are usually healthier and less expensive than grabbing a random snack once your stomach starts growling. ¬†In France, BF and I would pack some cheese, a baguette and some cured meats and we’d be good for the day. ¬†Then, we feast at dinner.

3. Recommendations from locals

Talk to other tourists, your tour guide, or just any local.  Chances are, they know of a range of great restaurants and are more than happy to share recommendations with you.

4. Stay in a place with a kitchen

If eating out is not your thing, then why not make your own food with local ingredients and flavours? ¬†Like most home cooking, it’s probably better for your health and wallet. ¬†And you don’t have to worry about what the tipping etiquette is.

Site Seeing

1. “Free” Maps & Tours

Most major cities offer a plethora of tour guides and fancy duck-shaped buses which haul you around the city. ¬†I usually find the “free” tours, or tip-based tours to be the most informative, enjoyable and bang for my buck.

2. Prioritize

Do you enjoy walking through museums? ¬†Or do you prefer to look at historical buildings and sites? ¬†You have a limited amount of time, energy and money, so don’t try to see or do it all. ¬†You are not seeing the city, if you are spending half your time in line-ups to see attractions.

3. Hang out where the locals do

Do you think a local New Yorker steps foot in Times Square?  Or a local Parisian climbs the Eiffel Tower?  Probably not.  Why not enjoy a glass of wine while listening to a local jazz club?  Or check out a local production?  Or enjoy stargazing while listening to local musicians at dusk while perched at the hill top of Sacre Coeur?

Just remember to have fun and be creative while minding your wallet. ¬†I’m sure no one wants to come back from the trip with a huge credit card bill. ¬†Traveling frugally doesn’t have to be cheap ūüėČ

What are some of your favourite traveling tips? ¬†Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

Cheers,

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