Affordable Food, Accommodation & Sightseeing
Go Where The Deals Are

Other than the cost of a flight to get to your destination, accommodation is likely to be the next most costly item you need to contend with when planning a tour or destination vacation. Going cheap often means a sacrifice in comfort and amenities that negatively impact the enjoyment you should be having while on vacation.

What few people outside the travel and hospitality industry appreciate is that a plane that departs with an empty seat, or a hotel with a vacant room have virtually the same costs of operation as if they were full. Thus filling empty seats and rooms is almost all profit. It's the job of management to assure vacancies occur as rarely as possible. You can use this to your advantage and reduce your travel costs.

Being someone addicted to travel, my desire to wander off in search of new adventures abroad continuously taxes my ability to afford to do so. Faced with not traveling until I could save enough to do so, I had to find inexpensive transportation and accommodation to be able to travel whenever I choose, and for as long as I want.

My solution for finding inexpensive travel is not one for the faint of heart. However, if it's affordable travel adventure you want, I recommend going against current travel trends.

News medias sensationalize isolated incidents of violence or natural disasters, which results in cancellations of flight reservations and hotel bookings, while other people still in the planning stage of their vacations look elsewhere. The impact on tourism generated by such sensationalized news reporting is catastrophic.

I must make it clear that this vagabond traveller is neither fearless nor fool-hardy, but I know from many years of travel experience that what I read or see on television has to be deemed suspect. This is especially so in the case of network news stations with sliding ratings, such as CNN and Fox News. Both are more interested in getting viewers back to enhance their ability to charge more for advertising than dulling down their reporting by sticking to the facts. If you want a level headed, sensationalism free, non-partisan perspective of world events, I recommend watching the BBC and Al Jazeera English. Neither is completely unbiased, but if you balance the reporting of the two you can arrive at a fairly clear understanding of what is really going on. Newspapers I find all slant editorial towards the political or business interests of the publisher, and not necessarily in the direction where the truth can be found. I tend to prefer the internet over print anyway, but of course nothing compares to actually being there and seeing things for yourself.

Some destinations to consider are...

Egypt

The land of the Pharaohs has some of the world’s best-known monuments, but the Egyptian tourist industry is struggling to fill its abundant hotels. With the local population being mostly lower income tourists, and few people willing to risk holidaying in what they think is an unstable area, prices are depressed. It’s now easy to find a bargain priced hotel, meal, tour guide, or taxi driver. Admission prices for the ancient pyramids and temples have always been reasonable, generally ranging from $3 to $14, but now unlikely to increase for the foreseeable future.

An example of savings available is a first-class train ticket from Cairo to Luxor for $17. How about a Nile-view, deluxe double room in Luxor for $60 a night, breakfast included? Another deal is a private room by the sea in Dahab for under $20 nightly. Spend the day at the Nubia Museum in Aswan for just $4. Hungry? Enjoy a falafel sandwich at a Cairo street stall for 40 cents. As you'll find when you are there, Egypt not only offers some of the most amazing of all the world's ancient constructions ever erected by mankind, but is yours to behold affordably.

The uprisings that made the news and resulted in throngs of travellers staying away have subsided. The easing of civil unrest means there's now little for news medias to sensationalize in an effort to earn viewers or readers. This have resulted in their being virtually no follow up reporting, so the majority of potential potential tourists still fear going to Egypt. This is unfortunately, because the country is a safe destination for anyone exercising common sense and caution. In fact, the streets or Cairo are no more, nor less dangerous than downtown Miami at night. Both cities are relatively safe, but like Miami, Cairo has some areas no one would want to venture into after dark.

Indonesia

Indonesia is a Southeast Asian nation that's unquestionably one of the most diverse and attractive destinations in the world. The country is comprised of a long string of volcanic islands and a wide range of topography and culture, making it a destination full or wondrous sights. It's also likely to be the best value on the planet with cheap hotels next to beaches offering great snorkeling and scuba diving going for as little as $5 a nigh.

Bali is the most developed island, but even there you can find plenty of deals because of previous violence directed towards tourists. A well publicized bombing of a bar popular among Australian tourists and expatriates received world wide coverage. This was especially so in the USA where news medias sensationalized the event way beyond the amount of coverage the story was given elsewhere. USA news groups also failed to make it clear that of the over one thousand islands that comprise the nation of Indonesia, only a few warranted a travel caution.

As usual, the USA news medias moved on to other stories that could be given sensational twists, thus failing to notify their audience that bombs were no longer being planted in popular tourist haunts. In fact, even in Australia, the nation that suffered most from the tragic event, has updated travel advisories to a level suggesting caution be exercised, but not that the country should not be visited at all.

The actual advisory is courtesy of Smartraveller, the Australian Government's travel advisory and consular assistance service, and reads: Terrorism (arrest of alleged terrorists at a number of locations in Java). We advise Australians to 'Reconsider their need to travel' to Central Sulawesi, Maluku, Papua and West Papua provinces due to recent communal and sectarian violence.

Note that Bali, the city in which many Australians were injured or killed, is no longer among the destinations rated as ones to reconsider visiting. Nor are Java and Sumatra, both fantastic destinations where it’s easy to be pampered on the cheap. For example, a double room with pool and breakfast in Yogyakarta, Java is available for under $20. A five day small ship cruise between Lombok and Flores islands, via Komodo is just $200 per person, meals included. A first class train seat from Jakarta to Yogyakarta costs just $25. Sightseeing on Bali for a full day by motorbike costs just $10.

Mexico

The peso has been in a long slide since 2008 when the peso was 10 to the dollar at the start of the global recession, and is now 13 to the dollar. That’s a discount of more than 25% in a country that was already a deal.

On top of the global economic decline and steady devaluation of the peso was a Swine Flu outbreak, followed by drug gang violence on the U.S. border. All of these negative event mean travelers have tremendous bargaining power on hotels and tours. Again, negative, sensationalized news reporting has resulted in many potential tourists going elsewhere. What was never explained by news medias was that the violence and health issues were localized. Nor was it made clear that tourists had a greater chance of suffering a Hepatitis A or B infection in Mexico than being stricken with Swine Flu. Never mentioned either was the fact that Hepatitis or Swine Flu weren't much of a risk to anyone properly inoculated against both diseases.

Some of the deals you'll find are, a three-course lunch at a market stand for $4, a nice hotels in centuries-old colonial buildings for under $75,with breakfast and Wi-Fi. Enjoy a round of Negra Modelos for five at nearly any bar for just $10, including gratis snacks. Or ride around on some of the nicest deluxe buses in the hemisphere for $6 to $8 per hour of travel.

Honduras

Honduras was a little known destination until it was all over the news in 2009 when the president was forced out of office in a coup. Thus, before the country was discovered as a a travel destination, negative publicity caused the public to perceive it as unsafe.

Some of the deals on offer are $35 white-water rafting trips, week long learn-to-dive packages with room, breakfast, and transfers for under $600. Enjoy a cold coconut with a straw for 40 cents or admission to the Copán archeological park for $10.

Other sensational deals are scuba diving package on Roatan Island. This Caribbean island sits next to the second-longest coral reef in the world, and every hotel seems to offer inexpensive package plans no matter the season. On the mainland you’ve got tropical national parks, the rugged Moskito Coast, and Copán, one of the key Mayan sites in the Americas and a great little colonial town.

Thailand

As with Honduras and Mexico, visitor numbers plunged when Bangkok was constantly reported on the news with reports of one military coup after another. The political uncertainty is behind the nation now, but there are still plenty of deals on airfare, tours, and hotels. Thailand continues to be one of the best bargains in the world in terms of hotel prices, and with a well-developed infrastructure, it’s easy to get around and see what you want to see, be it historic ruins, Buddhist temples, or tropical beaches.

Some of the deals on offer are a standard double room at a true 5-star hotel in Bangkok for $250 or less, per night or a cheap place to flop down and sleep for around $12. Admission to the main ruins in Sukothai is under $2. Take a first class, round trip sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for about $40, while Skytrain ticket across Bangkok is about $1.30.

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Tips To Save On Accommodation

In the USA it's possible that a pay stub issued by any city, county, state, or federal government department or agency will entitle you to a discounted rate offered to government employees. Always ask if the hotel you're considering booking offers a discount to government employees.

 

Trying to negotiate your rate after you've made a reservation will rarely work. Once you've made a reservation online or over the phone and provided your credit card number, you've committed to pay the going rate! Always negotiate the cost of your stay before giving your credit card to anyone.

 

Hotels will not always negotiate a rate. If a hotel has only one vacancy staff will not be inclined to lower the rate. It's more than likely the remaining room will sell to someone calling or walking in after you. If the hotel is nearly empty, or there is only one or two rooms left vacant but it is very late, it's likely the rate will be reduced for you.

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