Monday, March 15, 2010

Adventures in Frugal Travel

(nothing to do with travel, but I am craving fish/seafood. I have to have a thyroid scan because I have a goiter/small nodules and nothing with iodine can pass my lips. So not am I on a strict diet but I cannot have my favorite healthy food, salmon. SOB!!)

As we return to our scheduled program, I'm planning two trips for the spring/summer. Being on a fixed income, I need to plan these trips ahead to get the most for my money. I like to travel, eat my way around the us, and sleep somewhere besides my car or on the ground. Contrary to many naysayers, it can be done. How to I maximize my travel money?

Hotels: I stay in cheap but comfy hotels and I don't require breakfast The exception to this is when I am in a big town. I want to be able to walk around and experience the city, and realize for that I may have to pay more. I reserve in advance, using AAA and AARP discounts. I have rewards cards for all the hotels/motels that I stay in, from Best Western on up, so that I accumulate free stays and food. At Christmas and other occasions, many hotels sell discounted gift cards or do a BIGIF. I order gift cards for the places I stay, doing so through cash back sites like www.shopathome.com

Food: My children gave me one of those nice picnic baskets a couple years ago. You know, the ones with the plastic wine glasses and silverware and napkins? Except in really poor weather, I grab gas at the station, but I stop at rest parks to leisurely eat my food. When a hotel offers a complimentary breakfast, I take advantage of it. There is always something I should be able to eat, even on my current regimen. When at a city or major stop location, I eat out but not in the hotel. I search for well rated restaurants that offer the local food. White table cloths are not required and in much of the eastern seaboard newspaper is the table cloth of the day. I could get something and cook it in the room but that would ruin the experience of the city/town.

Entertainment: I like the get the ambiance of the town. Yes, I try and hit a museums and other attractions, but that is a small part of my time. Since I know I cannot get to every place anyway, I would rather wander, say, the squares and waterfront of Savannah for at least half my time. I do search the places that charge admission ahead and see what their discount days are. I also, always get all the tourism material I can by mail and email first to see about coupons.

My first outing will be one of my many regular trips to Denver, but I play to make it more exploratory this time. Ill explore old route 66 in Texas and New Mexico, then cut up to Santa Fe for a few days. Ill make a side road trip in southern Colorado and then end up in Denver. I'm trying to decide if my trip will be straight back.

My second trip will be much longer, along the gulf coast then across Florida to Jacksonville, and up through Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston. The way back is still "under construction" as they say.

More to follow.

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