Frugal Travel Tips For Cruises

Cruises are one of my favorite ways to see the world. I love falling asleep in one country and waking up in another, not having to pack and unpack. Cruise lines run the range of prices from value to super expensive. For frugal travelers, here are some tips to cut expenses.

Consider All Itineraries

When most people think of cruises, they think of the Caribbean, the Mediterrian, and perhaps Alaska. However, name an ocean port and there is likely a cruise sailing into it. And some of these itineraries can not be only bargains but a pleasant surprise. We once booked a 12 day Baltic cruise from London to St. Petersburg and return for less than the airfare from New York to London. It remains one of our favorite cruises.

Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Food is normally included in the price of a cruise (except for dining at the exclusive restaurants). However, beverage other than water, coffee, tea, and if lucky iced tea come with an additional cost. So what we do is buy non-alcoholic beverages in ports (allowable – for alcoholic drinks, there is often a corking charge) and then pour them into glasses.

Make Your Own Tour

We’ve been on over a dozen cruises all over the world and have only done one ship organized tour (on our first cruise). They are expensive, move forward at the pace of the slowest traveler, and restrictive. For a well organized traveler, making their own arrangements is preferable.

One trick that we use is to look at the sights the ship tours cover and include those in our “tour.”

Note: Tour Directors will often tell of horror stories about passengers not getting back to the ship on time. The solution? Leave some extra time and do the far away venues first.

Big Breakfast, Late Dinner

For the frugal traveler, maximizing the time in port is a must. That means if possible choosing the late seating at dinner. Also we tend not to eat large lunches (if at all). Instead we eat a large breakfast on the ship (where the breakfast is free), snack on bits and bites of local food while on shore, and then top the day off with a leisurely late dinner.

Cruising is one of the favorite ways for this frugal traveler to see the world. And by using these tips, it is one luxury that can fit into a traveler’s budget.

Frugal Travel Tips For Cairo, Egypt

When travelers think of Cairo, they think of the Pyramids Of Giza, the only remaining wonder of the ancient world but much of the joy of being in Cairo, comes from the unique culture. Observing this culture, including eating well, can be frugal for the savvy traveler.

Pyramids Of Giza

If you have time to explore the Pyramids of Giza complete with the Sphinx at the entrance, then the entrance fee is worth it. To touch the same stones laid by the ancients is an experience. However, for time crunched or extremely budget conscious travelers, the view from the outside is fine, especially to watch the laser light show at night.

Note: Any pictures of locals or camels usually come with a price tag so be prepared.

Khan el-Khalili

Traders have been bargaining in the Khan for centuries. One of the largest markets in the world, this is the place to people watch, to pick up souvenirs and to perfect haggling skills.

Haggling is expected, even welcomed. How to tell if the shopkeeper has reached the rock bottom price? If you walk away and the shopkeeper lets you go.

Note: The Middle Eastern’s definition of personal space is much different (as in much less space) than the average North American’s. Expect some close encounters.

Falafel In A Pita

One of the most popular Sandwiches in the Middle East is the falafel in a pita (so popular even McDonalds has a version). Deep fried chick peas formed into a ball, put in a flat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy tahini sauce, the mix is not only delicious but inexpensive. We bought falafel in a pita for the equivalent of 25 cents U.S.

How to find the most inexpensive falafel stand?

Follow the local teenage boys. Teenage boys (the world over) have a nose for finding inexpensive meals of half decent quality. Then just point at what one of them order.

Juice Bars

To wash down the falafel, consider visiting one of the numerous juice bars. The juice is freshly squeezed but the glasses are reused, often without rinsing, so walk with your own plastic cup if you’re squeamish.

Cairo is one of the oldest cities in the world, a place of pyramids and mummies, but it does not have to be one of the most expensive. The frugal traveler can eat, drink, shop, and sight see without blowing the budget.

Frugal Travel Tips For Road Trips

What better way for the frugal traveler to stretch both her budget and her vacation allotment than by taking road trips during long weekends? Here are some of my top tips to reduce that cost even more.

Keeping The Cooler Cool

Packing an accessible cooler full of drinks and snacks is a great cost reducing option. To maximize cooler space, instead of filling with ice, freeze water bottles and low filled beverages (including drinking boxes, makes a healthier juice slushy). No more soggy sandwiches or spilled water in the backseat.

Eating Where The Truckers Eat

For longer road trips, travelers may have to look outside the cooler for a meal. Instead of haunting the usual fast food chains, keep an eye out for any local roadside restaurants with transport trucks parked outside. When truckers find a spot with good, affordable meals, they tell their buddies.

Note: Just because the sign says truck stop, doesn’t mean the truckers stop. The vehicles never lie.

Keeping The Kiddies Entertained

This is a trick I’ve stolen from my Mom. Whenever we went on a long road trip, she would dig out the coloring books and crayons. That may not seem exciting except it was…to us. During a road trip was the only time we were allowed a new coloring book.

Updated for today’s kid, keep a few toys or video games only for use on road trips. This could be a brand new toy or a favorite. The novelty of the toy will keep kids busy and looking forward to the long car rides.

Prepping The Vehicle

Road trips mean relying on your vehicle so prep work is essential. Check all fluids, oil, antifreeze/coolant, windshield washer solvent (for the bugs all road trip vehicles collect). Check the tires, ensuring that they are properly inflated and in good condition. Check all belts and hoses, looking for wear and tear.

AAA Or Other Vehicle Assistance Programs

Frequent road trippers should consider an AAA or other vehicle assistance program membership, especially if they have an older vehicle. One tow and the membership pays for itself. Plus no scrambling for local mechanics/tow trucks.

One of the benefits that I love about AAA is their TripTiks which are route maps complete with information such as road works (very helpful during the summer road work season) and rest stops. There are even blurbs on each town passed.

Road trips are a great way to see more local destinations and to stretch the travel budget.