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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Short Notice | Traveling Simply and Frugally

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

This post is not the original post I had planned to write this week. But I have found myself confronted with the 'cost of travel' on short notice and it isn't fitting in too well with my simple living ideals! Ideally, traveling anywhere is planned and calculated and if you live simply you might want to consider the many options to make your trip as frugal as possible, without compromising enjoyment. The topic of traveling simply could be rather lengthy too, but I will just share with you what I have experienced this week as I plan to travel to Tasmania to visit my sick uncle and his family.

Firstly I have had to make a quick decision about making this trip. I cannot wait for several weeks to book a flight. Time is not on my Uncle's side. I cannot wait to see if prices will be 'cheaper' for flights. I have just had to book flight times that work best around my family that I will be leaving behind at home, accepting the cost of flying in such rushed circumstances. This has been difficult.

I believe that boat travel is better for the environment. This is an option when traveling to Tasmania. Again though time is not on our side. It would seem that when you have to rush...things aren't so simple and you end up spending more money or doing things that aren't so good for the environment. I think this can be seen in regular day to day life too! Slowing down saves money, I am certain of this.

As I breastfeed my youngest son, Ben, and I don't express milk he will be traveling with me. I am fortunate that we use cloth nappies and I can take a dozen nappies with a couple of wet bags to store the soiled ones in. They will last the couple of days without needing washing and the bags are good at locking in smells.

I feel very strongly about feeding Ben 'real food' cooked from scratch, so I am freezing up his lunch and dinners and taking them with me. A fridge is available in our hotel room so I can store his food safely. The short trip also works in my favour, in that the food won't spoil over such a short period of time spent traveling. The hotel has a communal kitchen so I can make Ben anything extra and warm his food when necessary.

The fact that the hotel has a communal kitchen also means that we can cook our dinner and make lunches if we buy supplies (or take them) which will again reduce the costs involved in 'eating out'. We have chosen a simple hotel, close enough to walk to the hospital where my uncle is ill, so we won't need to rely on taxi travel to and from.

Yesterday I made a cover for the stroller we will use and I am taking my Ergo baby carrier as well. I made the stroller cover from a vintage thrifted sheet that was in good condition.

The design inspiration and the cord used to tie one end with, came from a camping chair cover. This cover will protect the stroller when it is in the aircraft and is a little stronger than the garbage bags that I've seen some travelers use. I think bags like this would make useful protective covers for prams and strollers stored regularly in your car boot too.

I created a box shaped end and doubled the fabric and stitching to make it a little stronger.

I don't need to buy anything special for this trip, which is good as I have pledged to buy nothing 'new' for the month of October ...I don't think this includes travel and accommodation!

Do you find that when anything needs to be done quickly that you end up spending more? Do you have any frugal traveling tips you'd like to share here?

Amanda x


Annet and Kirk said...

We dislike buying food out as well - paying $8 for a blah sandwich is not nice and coffee in Oz is SO overpriced. An occasional treat at a scenic cafe is different, but not as a standard out and about trip. So we always makes sure we have our travel coffee mugs (that screw closed tight, so can even be laying down and don't drip) and fill those up from breakfast, so we only need to buy coffee in the early afternoon. And we always carry our water bottles so we don't end up buying cold drinks that are full of sugar. And we often carry our Tupp. sandwich keepers, so we can make an easy lunch and take it with us, or even just cheese and crackers for a snack and it is easily thrown in a backpack.
It is good that you can visit your Uncle and I agree that sometimes you need to put your family needs above green or other decisions.

Sarah R said...

Hi Amanda,

I feel for you - my immediate family is in Tasmania as well and I recently had to make an emergency trip when my father was very ill. And yes, it's very expensive to travel under these circumstances.

I deal with it by having a specific emergency fund for this kind of travel - it's enough for three trips at the highest rates I'm likely to encounter. That represents a significant amount of money sitting in an account, but it also represents peace of mind. I was very grateful that it was there when I needed to use it.

Best wishes for your trip and your uncle.

amanda brooke said...

Sarah, this is a good idea, especially when you have family overseas or interstate.

Barbara said...

Earlier this year we had to
make a hurried trip from
Adelaide to country NSW for the
funeral of a close friend.
We only had two days notice
so our only option was to fly
to Sydney and hire a car to go
the rest of the way since the
bus and train connections
were so poor. Yes, it cost a
lot but I'm glad we did it.
Sometimes you just have to.

Lis said...

Family needs are something we all need to put first. my thoughts are with you at what must be a difficult time. xx
Love the stroller cover you have made and reminds me that my camp chair cover has fallen apart and I need to sew a new one.

Frugal Down Under said...

Don't forget to pack an empty bottle. Once you've passed checkin and in your boarding lounge etc you can fill up your water in the bathroom before boarding the flight. This way you wont have to purchase expensive bottled water on the plane.

And even though you are not allowed liquid items they allow baby food. So you should be allowed some of your home made food onto the plane for your little one. Which I highly recommend just in case you are stuck on the plane for longer or there are issues with baggage.

Life is for living. Sometimes we have to fork out extra for special circumstances. And we when do have that option we are very very lucky. An African friend had to walk/run for 2 days to get to her daughter in another town. Just when she arrived in the hospital her primary school aged daughter passed away in her arms. Another friend was of early high school age. She heard from her neighbours her mother was dying - she and her smaller sister ran all day to reach the hospital. They arrived worn out, with bloodied feet to hear that their mum had passed away. These stories have made me sob in front of my friends and make feel feel very lucky I was born in different circumstances and have options due to money.

Best wishes to you.

Rachel said...

I have recently moved home after what our country calls an OE (overseas experience), a very common occurrence in the under 30s here (and Oz!) Part of the idea of an OE is to travel as cheap as possible for as long as possible. I did learn a LOT over the years. Some of my best tips:

1 - Learn to pack light. Most airlines now have carry on only options which are cheaper. I used to be able to survive with a carry on for up to a week of travel (of course this isn't so realistic when travelling with kids).

2 - Don't rule out Hostels. I loved staying in hostels. Most of them have private rooms now, can be nicer than 3 star hotels and have communal facilities such as kitchens. You'll find all ages in hostels now.

3 - If you can't find a good hostel at least look for a place with a kitchenette or shared kitchen. Cooking your own meals is the quickest way to save money.

4 - Curb your souvenirs. Don't buy stuff you really don't need. Don't get caught up in the hype.

5 - Get to know the locals. You'll be surprised at some of the great tips you'll get.