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Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 10:27 AM   #1
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Cheap Travel

Although the title of this post is somewhat ambiguous, I'm curious to know if anyone here is struggling with the desire to travel and see the world while you're still physically able, yet simultaneously worrying whether you're putting away enough money for FIRE?

I'd be inclined to travel cheaply (i.e. youth hostels and other cheap accommodations) just for the ability to see as much of the world as possible. From my limited travel experience abroad, there's so much to see that costs nothing except the expense of getting there...
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 10:40 AM   #2
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Re: Cheap Travel

I'm of the "travel cheap" mindset. I don't mind budget hotels. Who spends any time in their hotel room anyway? Food - eat where the locals eat instead of flashy 5 star americanized tourist oriented restaurants.

Hop on a bus (or train or slow boat) and sit next to locals. That's what you are traveling for, right? The experience of meeting different cultures, slowing down a bit, and seeing new things.

I have recently been toying with the idea of taking a "sabbatical" for a few months or years. I would probably do it before I get my FIRE nest egg put together completely. Living cheap in some exotic locale while your portfolio silently works away isn't a half-bad FIRE plan in and of itself. We have a 1 year old daughter and another on the way, so the sabbatical is at least 4-5 years away (at least!).

I could wait till I am 40- or 50-something for these experiences, but there will always be reasons to wait. Why not do it sooner rather than later? If you can greatly enrich the quality of your life for the next decade or two by traveling, do it. The extra year or two you'll have to work to make up what you spent on travel will be worth it.





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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 11:15 AM   #3
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Re: Cheap Travel

I travel a lot--we try to take a trip abroad every 2 years. We pay cash for the trips, so no loans or credit cards, but it does take money away from retirement.

I rationalize it like this: if we travel now while we are still relatively young and healthy (ages 47 & 50) and we get to our retirement goal age and find out we need more money, we can always work another year or two to make up the deficit.

On the other hand, if we postpone travel until after our retirement goal age and then find that we are too ill or too cash-strapped to go anywhere, we are screwed.

I love budget travel and I think you will nearly always save money and have more fun on trips you plan yourself. I get a copy of Lonely Planet or any good guide for each place we visit and arrange accomodations and tours myself. I have a good "consolidator" for airline tickets who is magically able to pull cheap fares out of the blue at the last minute.

People think staying at hostels will be dirty, noisy or just a drag, but some of the best places we've stayed in Europe have been in hostels. Nowadays most have private rooms with ensuite baths available, or family rooms for those traveling with children. The last time we went to Europe, we stayed in a hostel that was in a restored medieval building in the heart of a lovely medieval town (Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic). Unique, beautiful, and a private room cost us $35 dollars a night.

My kids were with us that on that trip (they had their own room). On the night of the world cup final, Denmark vs. Czech Republic, the hostel staff decided to go to a bar to watch the game. They left our kids with the keys and told them to take care of the place! My kids loved it! The hostel had a large family room with games and musical instruments, and they spent the evening playing Simpsons ClueDo in German. (by the way, there's next to no crime in places like this, so we didn't have a heart attack when we ran into the staff from the hostel in a bar later that night and they told us the kids were holding down the fort.)



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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 11:34 AM   #4
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Re: Cheap Travel

I would really recommend Teaching English as an opportunity to travel.

The only downfall, my Son included, is that many of those who choose to do this stay away much longer than planned.

My Son is into his eigth year in China, another young lad his third year in Korea, some come home with a spouse in tow.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 11:50 AM   #5
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Re: Cheap Travel

I did the cheap travel/backpacking experience several times to Europe in the college years and I really enjoyed the whole cheap travel experience.

I will admit that travel like this can be stressful, especially if you aren’t willing to try the local language or learn a few basic phrases.* Personally, I enjoyed the idea of trying to speak the foreign language, going to local restaurants, but you should also be resourceful and not panic if you miss a train, get on the wrong bus, get confused with military time (I actually did all 3 of these at one time or another), but everything worked out and now I have really good stories.*

Youth hostels are fun and cheap, but check out some of the backpacker books first to get reviews (“Let’s Go” makes very popular books), or you might end up in a frat house type atmosphere.*

The really touristy areas like Paris or Florence will fill up fast in spring & summer, so you probably want to make reservations, even in the hostels.* Lots of the hostels have websites these days and accept reservations online.*

Also, be careful on the second class overnight trains as petty crime can be common.* Try to get off the beaten path and prices will be a lot cheaper.* The food at the mom and pop place will be a lot better and cheaper than the Hard Rock Cafe.* Enjoy…those travel experiences will stay with you forever.*
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 12:22 PM   #6
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Re: Cheap Travel

re: speaking the language.

I have decided to try to pick up some of the language of wherever I'm going. It helps immensely to get by in the country, and allows a bit more interaction with the people of that foreign country. Navigation/travel, shopping and dining are greatly enhanced with a general grasp of the language.

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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 02:25 PM   #7
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Re: Cheap Travel

i'm retired early but too soon to travel in the style to which i'd like to become accustomed. so while i accumulate more $s towards the cruising kitty, i thought i'd travel on the cheap by renting on short-term leases or at long-term vacation spots. i'll start domestically so i can get back quickly if needed for mom and then in a year--or whenever-- internationally over the next 6 years or so.

for now i thought i could rent a studio, say in hawaii (big island) for $1-1.5k/month. a little cheap jeep geo seems to go for $650/mth. flight maybe another grand. so for under 5k i got a two month vacation in hilo. cheap yet not too shabby.

after mom (currently with hospice) i thought i'd do similar but longer trips overseas, maybe 6 months to a year at a time, staying based in apartments instead of hotels, then doing some side excursions.

of course, when i'm not on, um, vacation?, i'll be biking along a1a here in fort lauderdale. you gotta do what you gotta do to save some money. life's a beach.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 02:44 PM   #8
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Re: Cheap Travel

I found a lot of budget travel in my own back yard. Theres a lot of places within driving distance here in CA to see that I havent been to yet. When Gabe's bigger and can handle a long car ride, we'll be back to it.

When I first moved here, I bought the 'frommers' guide (or whatever the heck the travel book was, there are a bunch), and my girlfriend and I did all the touristy things. We went to alcatraz, down to the aquarium in monterrey, up to point reyes, down to the hearst castle, etc. When I went to work the next day and said where we went, I always got the same thing. "Gee, I've lived here all my life and never been there. I should go".

On my next trip back to boston, I picked up the boston guide in the airport book store. Flipping through it, yep, all sort of stuff that was essentially 'invisible' to me as I'd driven past it for years. The science museum. Pymouth rock and the mayflower replica, the plymouth plantation. The tall ships. The freedom trail. The fall 'leaf driving tours'. Various homes and museums of the 'forefathers'. Either had never been there or not since I was a kid or it was just invisible stuff. When my wife and I took a trip back a few years ago, we went to all those places. We had a good time.

Since my dad moved out 5 years ago we had a chance to revisit many of the 'trips' I took 12 years ago. Hiking the trails on mt tamapais. Going up to the lighthouse on point reyes and eating freshly dug bbq oysters. Walking the trail from the wreckage of the Sutro Baths up to Lands End under the golden gate bridge footings.

So look for the day trips and 'travel', sights and scenes in your own backyard.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 03:13 PM   #9
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Re: Cheap Travel

Good advice CFB. I live in our nation's capital, and probably haven't seen half of what it has to offer in regards to museums, sculpture gardens, etc... I can then head up the coast to Philadelphia, NYC, Boston, etc... all basically by car.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 05:31 PM   #10
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Re: Cheap Travel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tawny Dangle

I rationalize it like this: if we travel now while we are still relatively young and healthy (ages 47 & 50) and we get to our retirement goal age and find out we need more money, we can always work another year or two to make up the deficit.
We're 31 and 32, but this is exactly the conversation the spouse and I had a few years ago. We figure after 10-15 years of fun, having to work an extra few years wouldn't be the end of the world. But if we scrimp and sacrifice year after year and don't quite make it or get sick, well... ouch! Heard too many stories about people's regrets to want that to happen. We're also smart enough to realize that youth hostels and sketchy bus rides may not be so appealing in our senior years, so we're doing low budget travel now, while its an "adventure" and planning for an ER income to support more luxurious accomodations as we age. I think you definitely have to condition yourself for low budget travel - really can't imagine too many people with zero travel experience jumping into youth hostels at age 60.

We take at least one big trip a year, all cash, and take the cost of the place into consideration (ie. we start with a list of where we want to go, and then look at which of those options we can afford). Most recent was a month in India: rooms at $5-$20, meals at $3, and train rides around $10. Since we already live in Asia, the plane tickets were also reasonable. If we had unlimited income, India probably wouldn't have been at the top of our list, but... wow, what a trip!
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 05:46 PM   #11
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Re: Cheap Travel

My best friend from college currently lives in Germany. He also spent some time in Cyprus. In another few years he'll be on to somewhere new. This makes for inexpensive travel opportunities for myself and DH. We try to visit once a year (at least I do - DH can't always go). My friend lets us stay with him and takes vacation time to sightsee with us. It's great. He's so happy we visit (not many of his friends or family willing to visit him there) that he spoils us while we're there. I hope he keeps this job for awhile.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 05:50 PM   #12
 
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Re: Cheap Travel

Travel is something that you'll never regret. - Go for it! 8)
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 06:12 PM   #13
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Re: Cheap Travel

Elderhostels, for 55+.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 06:13 PM   #14
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Re: Cheap Travel

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowGirl
We're 31 and 32, but this is exactly the conversation the spouse and I had a few years ago. We figure after 10-15 years of fun, having to work an extra few years wouldn't be the end of the world.
It's a tough balance. The only possible flaw I see (from the perspective of my late 50s) is the assumption that "having to work an extra few years wouldn't be the end of the world." Then again you don't want to waste your youth pinching pennies.

Read a few of the topics around here to see that for many, the final work years are a really tough time. You see the possibility in sight, you are really fed up with your jobs, you sense that the remaining years are precious; switching jobs is problematic because of your age, yet the prospect of having to hang on an "extra few years" could be pretty onerous.

Not trying to be the grinch here, but maybe consider that possibility in the formula, too. We have travelled plenty over the years, but have also held back when the money or savings get pinched. Nice thing about early saving like you is that the head start will free you up waaaayyyy ahead of the rest, so you can travel in midlife when most are scrambling.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 10:35 PM   #15
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Re: Cheap Travel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tawny Dangle
On the other hand, if we postpone travel until after our retirement goal age and then find that we are too ill or too cash-strapped to go anywhere, we are screwed.

One of my aunts and her DH had always planned to do their traveling after he retired. Unfortunately, a few years into retirement, he died of cancer, and her health deteriorated to the point where she couldn't go on her own .... whenever I mentioned that DH and I were going somewhere, her response was, "Good! Go while you can!"
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-21-2006, 11:40 PM   #16
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Re: Cheap Travel

When DW and I were younger we traveled on very low budgets to Europe and South America several times. Eventually, we got busy with our careers and were making lots of money.

When we traveled cheaply, we spent more time waiting on public transportation, talking to locals, eating what the natives ate, etc. I once sat next to a goat and chicken in a truck across the Andes. The goat was pretty entertaining. (but I am not proposing goat marriage ). We carried our stuff in backpacks and slept in some pretty cheap rooms.

When we had money, we didn't have time to do those things. We were always in a hurry to see as much as we could before we had to go back to work. We bought our way through vacations rather than figure out how to do it cheap.

We kinda missed the cheap travel. Since retiring, our trips have been moving back toward our earlier travel. Travel isn't quite as spartan as when we were young, but neither are we.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-22-2006, 07:21 PM   #17
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Re: Cheap Travel

We also like to travel budget and we try and make at least one or two major trips a year. This year, we'll be doing Peru for 2 weeks (only 1 month away woo-hoo!) and Turkey in August/Sept. for about 3 weeks. Vacation time is definitely very hard to get but I've been able to squeeze out a lot the last few years. I think working in a small company helps since it looks like a lot of larger companies are very inflexible with vacation time. DW has no trouble getting time off since she's a teacher. She spent 10 weeks out of the country last year (8 with me and 2 with her friend).

Since I've gotten married, I noticed that I don't scrimp as much, especially on lodging, since I'm responsible for more than just me. During the latter half of the 90's, three friends and I used to travel every year for at least 3 weeks and we didn't worry about anything!

We're totally against the whole "American tourist"/"Contiki" experience. It just seems like you are completely isolated from the locals. Everything from the food to conversation seems to be much more memorable than doing what the rich tourists do.

We've been trying to visit as many non-kid friendly places as possible in the last few years because we are going to be having kids soon.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-22-2006, 11:28 PM   #18
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Re: Cheap Travel

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. . . This year, we'll be doing Peru for 2 weeks (only 1 month away woo-hoo!) and Turkey in August/Sept. for about 3 weeks.* . .
Hey Wanderalot, where are you going in Peru?
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-23-2006, 12:18 AM   #19
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Re: Cheap Travel

From reading Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, you can go REALLY cheap on lodging and transportation if you want, but that is too much for us codgers. Actually, we travel as cheap as we can--safely--but we find we need a comfortable base where we can just veg and regroup.
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Re: Cheap Travel
Old 03-23-2006, 11:22 PM   #20
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Re: Cheap Travel

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Hey Wanderalot, where are you going in Peru?
We signed up for the 4-day Inca Trail hike to Macchu Picchu. After that we'll be hanging out in Cuzco for a few days before heading to Lake Titicaca. After that, we are headed to Arequipa before heading back to Lima. I know that you are into archaeology, have you done anything in Peru? It looks like there are TONS of ruins everywhere.

If we had more time, it would have nice to go to the jungle in Manu... ahh well.
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