The Zizzler

Living THE life on a shoestring budget. Traveling, DIY projects, general fabulousness.......

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Traveling Basics...

Some things are true of every trip I take - so instead of being repetitive with each highlighted vacation, I'll put all of my starters here.

  • I don't "do" Thanksgiving... My family lives in Buffalo, which is annoying to get to, plus freezing in November....not to mention my family never cooks anything vegetarian for me. So, I've made a pact with myself to go to Europe every Thanksgiving. The travel deals are great this time of year, and you already have a 4 day weekend, so why not extend it a few days? Even a 4 day trip is worthwhile to somewhere closer, like the Caribbean or Latin America.
  • Buy Streetwise city maps and Let's Go travel books. Streetwise brand maps are my saving grace. I'm an explorer- I'd rather walk an entire city, rather than take a tour or a subway. The Streetwise maps are laminated and fold up to a brochure size - which can be easily read inside of your purse so no one knows you are a lost tourist. They include every tiny alley, street and road imaginable, as well as list attractions and include a subway map. The Let's Go books are written by students who have reviewed and cataloged restaurants, bars, clubs, attractions and museums all around the world. These books are invaluable because they tell you the cost of EVERYTHING, from admission prices, to the cost of beer, wine and mixed drinks in many bars and restaurants (as well as the crowd that might be there). Also helpful are suggested walking tours, site seeing based on your vacation length, and language basics. In stores the maps are about $11 and books $15, but I've purchased them on for much less.
  • I don't eat out a lot. I'm a nerd and I love grocery stores. Especially Waitrose in England! When I'm traveling, I'm a site seeing machine, and I hate to spend a lot of time (and money) on dining, so I pick a few essential restaurants (from my Let's Go book, or, and hit the farmers' markets and grocery stores for the rest. I am also a design nerd and love to see package design of other countries' daily goods. I'm also a coffee addict, and sadly the "to go" coffee is just not part of the European culture. So I DID frequent Dunkin Donuts alot...but I'm happy to say their European chains feature European style coffee, instead of the brown sugar water we have here.
  • I use my credit card. My mom swears you get the best exchange rate when you use your Visa card, and I tend to believe her. Plus, I'll have minimal money to exchange back.
  • I seem analy (is that a word?) frugal, but I splurge on one big thing. Except in France where I didn't like anything I saw in stores, aside from wine. In Barcelona I splurged on this fancy jacket type thing, which come to think of it I've never worn. Maybe this wasn't such a great suggestion.

It's not rocket science, but these things help me with every trip. Oh, and is a site that lists vegetarian restaurants all over the world. It's pretty cool. Just like me.


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