Cheapskate Traveling


Wouldn't live there, but a great place to visit.

Brian KallerGrowing up in Missouri, we never had much time or money for traveling, and while we knew people who did, their vacations – driving for days just to stand in long lines at overpriced rides – never sounded like much fun. Visiting other countries seemed unthinkable; flights, hotels, rental cars and restaurants added up into triple and quadruple digits we didn’t have. Thus, I was in my 30s before I left the country, and I'd never seen an American ocean.

Now that I live in Europe, though, I’m learning how valuable travel can be for the soul, especially for rural people who might otherwise become isolated – nor need it break the bank or the blood pressure when done properly.

Take lodgings, for example: You might be able to stay with friends or family for free, or stay in hostels for a fraction of the price of a hotel room. Hostels are much cheaper because, instead of private hotel rooms with televisions and maids, guests sleep in Spartan rooms with several other people. Most guests respect the privacy and habits of others, however, and are out during the day, using their rooms only for sleeping. Also, since most guests relax in common lounges rather than private rooms, hostels offer the chance to chat with other travelers from around the world. My first night in London I chatted with an Italian chef and a Danish hotelier on temporary work there, and soon the chef was making Pasta Carbonara for all of us.

Or take food: In a new city, you can eat out every night at pricey restaurants – or even worse, do what many tourists do and eat the same fast food as back home, just more expensively. Or you can buy groceries for cheap, healthy food and only eat out for social gatherings.

Wouldn't live there, but a great place to visit.Entertainment doesn’t have to be exorbitant either; the best things to do are usually free, from scenery to monuments to historical sites to museums. Other diversions are less expensive than you imagine; I imagined that West End plays would be only for elite patrons of the arts, but I get tickets for only slightly more than a trip to the cinema – only the movie stars were acting live in front of me.

6/19/2014 9:17:34 AM

I've always had a hankering to visit the UK, especially Ireland. Regarding public transportation: I'd love to live in an area where I could bike or walk to the grocery or another shop. Even in areas that are close to shops, many areas are poorly designed for pedestrians and bicyclists. For safety, people get in their cars to visit shops and stores. I was talking to a young exchange student at the zoo the other day. She was from Germany. She spoke of how she lived on a dairy farm about a mile from a train station. It was nothing for her to hop on a train and visit nearby cities and towns with her friends. Even at age 15 or 16. I wish my own children could experience such autonomy. I also wish I could visit larger cities without risking my life on the Interstate.

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