10 Tips to Cut Your Travel Costs

If you love to travel like I do, here are some tips to stretch your travel dollar…

1.  Lodging

Lodging is by far the largest expense when traveling. Couchsurfing is a terrific alternative to the standard hotel room if you’re a bit adventurous. After making an online profile through Couchsurfing.org, you can search their database based on location and other filters, such as age and male/female, for a place to crash for a few nights. It’s totally free and the friendships you make could become lifelong! You may also host people at your place, if you have a couch, an extra bed, or even an air mattress on the floor. In the past two years, I’ve Couchsurfed in Cape Town, South Africa, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Philadelphia, and New York City.

Patio of Cape Town, S. Africa Couchsurfing home

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2.  Solo Travel

 If you’re traveling solo through a travel company, choose a company that doesn’t charge a single supplement fee, such as G Adventures. They’ll pair you up with a roommate and who knows, you may even become Facebook friends with them!

One of my roommates in Thailand through G Adventures

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Travel Confessions

Letizia from Dutch Goes Italian tagged me for the Travel Confessions series. Thank you so much Letizia!  As you can tell from Letizia’s blog name…she’s Dutch, but loves everything Italian!  If you ever plan a trip to Italy…she’s your travel source!

There are a few rules in the Travel Confessions series:

  • Post a photo (or photos) and description(s) of your confession(s) in a new post.
  • Tweet your post with hashtag #TravelConfession and follow/tweet @Traveling9to5
  • Tag 3 other travelers you’d love to see

Travel confession No. 1

I prefer traveling solo…most of the time.  For some of the obvious reasons…you pick what you want to see and do…eat where and what you want…walk at your own pace…decide when you’re ready to leave…don’t have to deal with a traveling partner’s annoying habits (we all have them)–such as complaining..moodiness..overly talkativeness, etc..odd sleep schedule or snoring, etc.

I also enjoy it because I love to meet new people and it’s easier when you’re on your own.  This is a photo from my solo six week road trip through the Southern U.S. back in November.

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Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – Wanderlust

I’m excited to participate in the Adventure and Travel Magazine Let’s Be Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for Bloggers.  This week’s challenge is Wanderlust!  I have had a bad case of Wanderlust at times and looking at past adventures tends to kindle that flame even more.

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Broke down in Africa

As I mentioned in my last post about Victoria Falls, that you can read about here, we switched Overland Trucks and Tour Directors on my 35 day G Adventures Overland Truck African Adventure.  I was relieved about the truck switch because we had broken down five times driving through Namibia and Botswana!

Originally, we were supposed to have a different truck, but the first morning of the trip, as they were beginning to load the truck with luggage, someone drove by and ripped the doors off of the truck!  I took a photo of the road and truck for most of them.

 

This first breakdown was the longest…over an hour…so the Danish girls decided to get some sun…

Road – breakdown #1

Road – breakdown #2

Road – breakdown #3

The next two days of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck adventure were spent doing a variety of things…organizing my luggage, doing laundry (I only paid to have someone do my laundry twice on the trip), had another massage and a pedicure, internet time (usually I had to pay for wireless), napping, and dinner out with the new group,

The following morning we got on the road by 6:45am and drove 7 hours to Lusaka, Zambia and set up camp at the Eureka Restcamp.  There were some zebra roaming around the campsite…pretty cool!

Okavango Delta – Beautiful Africa

On day 16 of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck adventure my group went for a three-hour walk in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  We were surprised to see so much wildlife!  We saw Giraffe, wildebeest, warthog, elephant, antelope, zebra, and hippo.  Here is a buffalo skull on the trail…

We didn’t eat breakfast before the hike, so we had brunch upon our return.  Usually, our breakfasts consisted of instant coffee, cold cereals, bananas, sometimes yogurt, and granola or oatmeal were offered.  If we had a long driving day in the overland truck, we would pack a sandwich and eat on the truck.  Sometimes, when we were able to stop, we would have a pasta salad or something more substantial.

Here are a couple of photos of the women.  I loved this girl’s shoes…

After a short nap and swim, I read some in my book, “The Last Rhinos”.   We went for a mokoro boat ride to find wildlife and saw hippos.  As the sun set, I knew it was a magical time…

Once we were gathered around the blazing campfire that evening, our Mokoro drivers (or polers…I’m not sure what they’re called), who also camped with us, sang native songs!  One of the songs was “Beautiful Africa” and with each stanza, it changed to “Beautiful Hippos”, or “Beautiful Giraffe”, etc.  They clapped their hands loudly to the beat!  We decided to sing songs from our countries to them.  There were three Americans and we sang…”Take me out to the Ballgame”!

The Okavango Delta is an area that is still pure and peaceful!

Day Six of my 35 Day G Adventures African Overland Truck Experience

After arriving in the beautiful town of Swakopmund in Namibia at 11am on day 6 of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck experience, I took a taxi about 4 blocks to a separate hotel from the rest of the group.  Our accommodation for two evenings was to be in a dormitory style co-ed room with 7 of us (including some loud snorers), and there were no other single rooms available, so for $50 a night, I thought it was a great deal.  My room had a skylight and three beds.

After checking in, I went for a walk around the town.

I was surprised at how clean, upscale and new everything looked.  It was not overly crowded, but the few tourists I saw seemed to be mostly European.  Most of the shops had bars on the doors/windows and there was some barbed wire here and there.

I found a salon and had my artificial nails removed for the first time in years.  They weren’t holding up well with all of the camping.  That evening, I met the group for dinner at a restaurant called Napoletans and feasted on Greek pizza!

One of the positives of traveling in Africa by Overland Truck is the ability to see so many different places along the way!  This isn’t the Africa most Americans envision!

Gariep River, S. Africa

After driving 9 hours on Day one of my G Adventures Africa Overland Truck journey, we set up camp at  Gariep River (Orange River) on the border of S. Africa and Namibia.  It was already dark, so the next morning it was a treat to wake up to this view!

 

I would’ve shown you the campsite…but the wifi at Lake Malawi was very slow, so I can’t!  Maybe later!

This is the bar that we didn’t use since we only had a few hours that morning before we packed up our tents and drove on to cross the boarder into Namibia, towards our destination of Fish River Canyon.

Africa Overland Truck Experience with G Adventures

Driving from Cape Town through S. AfricaNamibia — Botswana — Zambia — Malawi — Tanzania is A LOT of driving.  G Adventures‘ 35 day Overland Truck trip has you in the truck for more than 140 hours…which is more than three full work weeks.

On the road in Namibia

So…to pass the time we came up with lots of games to play.  I brought three beach balls to give to children, so we had a blast hitting it around the truck.  Here’s Noreen (from Ireland).  We played “Bee Bee, Bumble Bee, I see something you don’t see”.  I made funny faces!  We played rock, paper, scissors.  I’d place a coin in my hand and have people guess which hand it was in.  Or I’d think of a number and see who came closest.  We played the telephone game once, but Michael (from Ohio) purposely twisted it so it was completely different!  Here’s Michael…

We played Charades, card games, toss the coin and guess heads or tails, name as many countries as you can remember on each continent, stand up and try not to fall while traveling over bumpy roads, see what weird tricks we can do…like move one eye and keep the other one straight, double jointed tricks, etc.  After running out of things, I came up with the game of placing an object on the table in the back of the truck and we’d guess how long it would take to bounce/fall off the table.

We did silhouette animals…

I finished an audio book on my I-Pod.  I also bought a book called “The Last Rhinos” that was newly released and finished that.  I just bought a book by Paul Theroux (sp?) called “Dark Star Safari”.  It’s fun reading stories about the continent you’re on!  Sometimes the roads are too bumpy to read a book though.  We sleep, talk, eat, or do nothing!

 We traveled by some amazing landscapes in Namibia…

Most of Namibia is desert land.  Some of it reminded me of New Mexico!

It’s amazing to me how much variety you find even in the desert…with colors, textures, etc.

Namibia is a beautiful country and although taking an overland truck through Africa is at times difficult…it is worth it!

Haystack Giggles in Vang Vieng, Laos

After traveling  seven hours from Luang Prabang…we reached the town of Vang Vieng in Laos.  As you can see, the landscape was absolutely breathtaking!  One of the women that was traveling with the G Adventures tour that I was on through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, remarked that there wouldn’t be any night life here.  There was one road leading into town and it was quite rural.

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With this to gaze at…I didn’t care!

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One of these sweet little girls stuck her tongue out at me after I took the photo…because I didn’t give her any money.

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Claire and Isabel–two of the ladies on the tour and I rented some rickety bicycles and explored some caves in the countryside.  Traversing the bumpy dirt roads made us giggle…the simple things can be so much fun!

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Then, when Claire got up on the haystack for a photo…it started collapsing…so we collapsed with laughter!  Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of that.

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This photo intrigues me.  I wonder what the boy was doing.  His dog almost looks like a fox to me and he has a bag by his side.  I would have stuck around to find out, but we were on our bicycles, so off we went.

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We spent two nights in Vang Vieng and then drove three hours to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.  After checking into the hotel, I walked to the market and shopped.  Everything was so inexpensive – $3.00 for a purse, $5 for a silk scarf, etc.  I couldn’t resist this hand embroidered blouse and splurged on a shampoo and style for $5.00!

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Our tour finishes with Hanoi, Vietnam and the stunning Halong Bay tomorrow!

Chocolate Banana Pancakes in Luang Prabang

If you’re just beginning to read…this was a trip I took through GAP Adventures in 2009 with six people from Canada, US, Germany, and the UK, to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

We spent the night in Pakbeng, on our way to Luang Prabang in Laos, en route from Chiang Mai via Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong.  I just had to say that!  I was capturing images of the sunrise at the river’s edge and was pleased to see this fisherman beginning his day.

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We went as a group that morning to buy 70 notebooks and pens, 8 dozen eggs, and a variety of other things from the local market to give to another group of villagers (I believe more Hmong) that live on the Mekong River.  Notice the supplies lying on the ground next to the guy in the red coat, who was our Tour Guide while we were traveling through Laos.

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We delivered the school supplies to the children!  I could just put that little girl in my suitcase and bring her home…she’s soooo cute!

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On our way to the quaint town of Luang Prabang, we stopped at a spiritual cave called “Pak Ou Caves“.

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Luang Prabang was everyone’s favorite town…with lots of shopping, good food, nice markets and friendly people.

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This seemed very odd…a line of clothes and hunks of meat.

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Chocolate Banana Pancakes were on every menu…

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One of the women on the trip and I rented a bicycle and explored the town.  It’s a great way to see more!  I also had another massage by a young girl that had very strong hands.

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Life is good!!

White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Wat Rong Khun temple or “White Temple” is located in Chiang Rai, Thailand and we stopped there while en route from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong.  As you can see it is beautiful and very artistic.  It was in fact designed by an artist named Chalermchai Kositpipat.

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The hands sculptures were on either side of the walkway at the front entrance!

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He had quite an imagination…

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At the border of Laos we boarded this slow boat for an eight hour trip on the Mekong River.  We had the boat all to ourselves!

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We stopped at a village where the Hmong hilltribe people lived in Laos…and a discussion began concerning happiness.  One of the women on the trip felt very sorry for these people.  They seemed quite happy to me!  So long as people have a roof over their head, food to eat, clean water, and medical attention when necessary…especially if that is the life they have always led…then perhaps the simpler life style is less stressful.

The history of Hmong people is very interesting…you should take a look.

Beautiful girls…

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Pet monkey on a chain…:)

Next…more of Laos…followed by Vietnam!

Tambopata Rainforest in the Amazon

The last stop of my three week Peruvian adventure was the Tambopata Rainforest area off the Amazon.  After boarding a short flight from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado, the 11 of us on a GAP Adventures tour, took a motorized canoe to our lodge.

The Lodge was much nicer than I expected!

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Fried Bugs and Elephants in Thailand

If you’ve been reading along…you know that in 2009 I did a lot of travel.  It began with Egypt and Jordan in March–followed by Peru for three weeks in May, and now in December, another G Adventures trip to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

So…for the story–

After checking into my hotel in Bangkok, Thailand…having just traveled 33 hours from the Midwest, I needed a massage.  Although it was 3:30am in the morning, I was able to get a massage in my room for $5.00 (from a girl).  It was the first of four massages I would enjoy while in Southeast Asia.  After sleeping for a few hours I briefly explored Bangkok prior to attending a “get acquainted” meeting with the other tour attendees, who turned out to be a married couple from England on their honeymoon and four women from Germany, California, England, and Canada.

The following day we took a boat ride on the famous canals aka Klongs of Bangkok and visited a Buddhist Temple…one of many to come!

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I took some video footage from my trip and made a few movies (for the first time) with my Mac…so if you’d like to see some very aggressive catfish, watch this.

I loved taking photos of the monks…

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I didn’t partake of any fried bugs…but if I hosted a travel show like Andrew Zimmern…I would!

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We went to the Wat Pho temple where the largest “reclining buddha” is housed!

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Riding in a “tuk-tuk” is a fun experience!

Later that evening we took a night train to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I rode an elephant the next day…

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And took a half-day cooking class…

For Sale:  Painting by an Elephant…

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more of the World’s beautiful children…

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I have a treat for tomorrow…the dazzling White Temple!