Ever dreamt of embarking on unforgettable travels without emptying your wallet? In this episode I talk about how to make your trip memorable without breaking the bank. I’ll share stories of simple and inexpensive experiences that turned out to be the most cherished moments, proving that travel isn’t always about luxury hotels and pricey tourist attractions.
Welcome to the Traveling Fool, the show that talks about travel destinations, the history, culture and people of those destinations, and travel tips and news. I’m Bob Bales, and today we’re talking about how to make memorable moments on your trip without spending a lot of money. A lot of people think that if they go on a vacation, it’s going to cost a bunch of money in order to have fun and make the trip something to remember.
But here’s the thing I’ve been to a lot of big tourist sites in Europe, Asia and the US places like the Eiffel Tower, Prague Castle, the Tower of London and I’ve stayed in some really nice and expensive hotels and resorts. All were fun to visit, but the things I remember the most when I look back at some of my travels is it didn’t always cost a lot of money to have some of my most memorable experience and it had nothing to do with expensive hotels or restaurants or the major tourist sites. And today we’re going to talk about how to make your trip memorable without breaking the bank.
Now, before we start, I want to let you know there are some links in the show notes for products that I use and helpful sites. A couple of them do pay me a small commission if you use them. But, like I said, I’m not going to ever promote anything that I don’t personally use or haven’t used in the past. So, let’s get started.
Planning Your Trip
Everything starts with planning for your trip. Planning ahead allows you to take advantage of discounts and promotions, booking flights and accommodations during the off-peak season, and it gives you time to do some research about the place you’re traveling to. Now. First of all, you should use a fair comparison site when looking at flights and accommodations.
I like Kayak a lot and I’ve used them for a long time. Hotels.com is another great site for looking at accommodations. I also like the site Agoda.com for accommodations in Asia. They always seem better finding places in Asia versus a lot of the other sites, not so much in Europe or North America, but in Asia, they’re great. Also, look at flying into a nearby airport. That sometimes saves a lot of time and a lot of money on the airfare. If you’re looking for a trip where you can lounge by the pool or just relax, then look for an all-inclusive or a nice resort. If you’re looking to visit a place and discover things to see and do, then the hotel really isn’t that important. Find a place that’s clean, in a good location and offers easy access to transportation or, with them, walking distance of places you want to explore. When I travel, I spend very little time at the hotel. I sleep there, and that’s about it.
Connect With The Locals
Now, the second thing is to connect with the locals. Some of my fondest memories of my travels have occurred when I’ve interacted with the locals. Now, when I say connect with the locals, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. I’ll give you a couple examples.
While spending a few days at a beach hotel on a little out of the way island in the Philippines, I would wake up early in the morning to get photos of the sun coming up and other things. When there’s no one around, early mornings are the best time for photos. I notice one morning that the fishermen would be coming into the beach after they’d been out all during the night fishing. They were unloading their fish and giving them to a group of women on the beach who were cleaning them and getting them ready to take to the market, and I asked the clerk at the hotel if I could give them a fish to cook for my dinner and she said yeah, sure, no problem. So, I went down to the beach and talked with the fisherman for a while, chatted with the women that were cleaning the fish, took a few photos and then I asked one of the women if I could buy a fish. She picked out a good one, wrapped it up for me and I took it back to the little hotel I was staying at and that night the hotel clerk grilled my fish at one of the next to one of the little outdoor tables and served it up with some fruit and rice and everything. I think I paid about two dollars for the meal and a dollar for the fish and it was one of the best meals I had on that entire island and out of all the things I did there, and I think I spent four or five days there that was one of my fondest memories.
Now, another time I was staying at a bed and breakfast in a town called Georgetown, Texas, and I was chatting with the owner, and he’d asked me if I’d been to a place called Wahlberg. And no, it’s not the Wahlberg’s burger place that’s been on TV. This is a little town in Texas, and he told me it was a small town a few miles away and they had a really nice German restaurant. I decided to take a drive and found Wahlberg, which consists of a very small town with a lot of old buildings and houses. I think it had one stoplight or maybe a stop sign, and that was it. One place was Meakin Motors Gas Station. It looked like something from the 50s or 60s, so I decided to stop and go inside, and I was met with this old country gas station slash store, and sitting in a rocking chair was a fellow by the name of Ray. I found out that Ray owned the place. His son ran it and Ray’s father had started it in 1927. So, Ray started talking to me more than me talking to him, and he told me all about the history of the town, the people that live there, and I had a fascinating visit with him. I actually wrote an article about Ray, and you can read about it on the blog. In fact, I’ll put a link in the show notes if you want to go back and look at it.
I found that some of the best memories are not the time that I visited the Tower of London, but the time I visited the Tower of London and spoke with one of the beef eaters, or, as they call them, the yeoman warder. Now. He told me all about what it was like to be a beef eater and the requirements to become one. He was a retired British Army Sergeant Major. He told me what it was like to live at the Tower of London, and we talked about our past military service experiences, because I’m retired military and so was he. I think we wound up talking for 10 or 15 minutes.
I had the opportunity to visit Nepal and the country is beautiful. It’s got a lot of historic sites, of course, mount Everest and just birthplace of Buddha. I mean it’s a fabulous country. But the best memory I have in Nepal is staying the night with a local family on a home stay, which is a program that puts you up with a local family and you can spend the night with them. I made dinner with them, sit there and talked about our families. They brought out their family photo album and told me all about their family and the history of their family.
So, here’s the key Just talk to the locals. Ask them what something interesting is that they might take someone to that was visiting them from out of town. Where are some of the good places to eat? Not necessarily the tourist places. When I travel, I talk to everybody. I talk to the people at the hotel, the security guards at hotels in Asia, the doorman in Europe. I ask them where the best beaches are located, at what restaurant has the best barbecue in town? Or a locally owned hamburger place, or anything else I might be interested in.
And as a result, I wound up having beer with a bunch of witches in Prague. I had a drink at a local’s home in the Philippines after stopping them on the street and admiring his pet monkey. I visited a prison in the Philippines and spoke with the inmates. I’ve had beers with a boxer in London at the Lillie Langtry Pub, and I smoked cigars with a local cigar group in the US Virgin Island. I had homemade wine with the owner of a guest house at Lake Ohrid and what’s now North Macedonia. At the time it was called something else. I mean, he told me what life was like living in Yugoslavia under Tito’s regime, and none of these memorable moments cost me a lot of money, but each one and many more are things that I remember most about my trips.
Okay, when it comes to eating out, now, you can eat breakfast at the hotel or you can ask you can ask the hotel maid or the cleaning lady or the crew there where a good breakfast spot might be that they eat at. In Asia, Europe and in some places in the US, they’re famous for their street food. I love stopping at food stalls and grabbing some local food. Plus, it gives you a chance to talk to someone and engage in a little conversation. If you’re in Europe, you might ask if there’s a cool castle nearby to visit or a museum. Europe has a lot of places that aren’t necessarily in the big guidebooks, and almost every little town, big or small town, has something interesting just around the corner that’s not you’re not going to find in the guidebook.
I always like to eat at locally owned places that have been around for a while. They usually have the regulars that eat there. The food is always good because they’ve been in business forever, and it usually results in a short conversation with either the owner or another patron that sometimes results in those magical, memorable moments that you will remember for years.
Plan Meaningful Itineraries
Here’s another tip Plan meaningful itineraries Now. Planning your itinerary is important when it comes to creating memorable moments. Before you leave on your trip, do a little research and prioritize the activities that align with your interests and passions, whether it’s exploring historic sites or checking out nice restaurants or engaging in outdoor activities, or hiking or kayaking, or focus on what excites you. You’ll enhance your overall travel experience without necessarily spending a ton of money.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to plan out every single minute of your trip. Some of my most memorable experiences came just because I left myself open to being spontaneous. Sometimes the most memorable moments happen when you least expect them. Explore that little side street in Frankfurt or visit that nearby fishing village in Thailand. The point is, allow yourself to enjoy your surroundings and not be on such a strict schedule all the time.
So, there you have it. Just a couple of ways that you can make memorable moments on your trip without having to break the bank. Now, before I go, I want to leave you with this thought. Travel just isn’t about Instagram photos of pretty girls lounging by the pool or couples holding hands on some beach or the big tourist sites that have throngs to tourist jockeying for the perfect photo. Travel is about the people you meet, the stories you collect and the memories that stay with you for years. So, make your next trip and every trip afterwards a memorable one.
Now there’s going to be a few links to some resources and blog posts that I mentioned in this episode in the show notes. Thanks for tuning in to the Traveling Fool podcast. I hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it that you can use. Please take a moment to subscribe, leave a review and share it with your friends, and stay tuned for more tips, destinations and travel news in our future episodes. Thanks again.
List Of Resources Mentioned In This Episode
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