- Don't check any luggage in. This will save you at least $25 on most domestic carriers.
- Use public transportation whenever possible. Taxis can cost you an arm and a leg. Public transport is usually quite affordable. I saved 54 pounds because I took the Picadilly train in London instead of taking a shuttle.
- Don't eat near big tourist attractions. You'll save a lot of cash if you find where the locals eat. To save even more money on food, purchase prepared food from a grocery store for some meals.
- Don't restrict yourself to one mode of transportation to get from point A to point B. Be open minded. I traveled around Europe on train a lot, but I saved a lot of money on taking buses and planes on certain segments.
- Don't spend a ton of money on accommodations. Consider staying in hostels or book a room on Airbnb. I've even stayed at a hostel converted from a palace. Booking "secret" hotels on Priceline and Hotwire can also make your pocketbook happy.
If you do quick Google search, it may seem like you have to be some travel guru so save money while traveling. "Sign up for these credit cards." "Join these loyalty programs." "Book your flights on these days." Blah, blah, blah. Saving money may be more simple than you think. Here's a list of five ways to easily cut your costs down.
Before my last trip, I had always hauled around a large suitcase while traveling. My 29' suitcase was roomy enough to pack multiple shoes, clothes to fit any situation, and all the toiletries I could possibly need.
In 2014, I started a tradition to buy myself a Christmas present from Rick Steve's shop. My first gift to myself was his Blu-ray collection. At 50% of off with a few free extras, it was a heck of a deal. Last year, it took me a while to decide what to get, but I finally decided to buy a piece of luggage from him. It was a carry on bag. It's soft-sided, and has handles on the top and side. It has backpack straps you can pull out from a zipped pouch.
I made the jump, and decided I was going to utilize this bag for recent trip. The duration of the trip was 18 days, so it required a complete change in philosophy for me to mange this.
For one, the only pair of shoes I'd take were the ones I would wear on the airplane. I took a pair of flip flops, which I planned to trash after I was done with them. Do you know that quart size bag you put your liquids in to get through security? That was my toiletry bag. I took old tees I wasn't attached to. I'd dispose of these after I was done with them. I packed a week's worth of shirts to wear. I wore one pair of jeans, and packed only one other pair. This would require me to do a little bit of laundry as I went. If I needed anything along the way I didn't bring, I'd just buy it.
What do I think after doing this for the first time?
It was liberating. I saved about a total of $100 on baggage fees across four different flights. I didn't have to stand in a long queue at the airport to check in my bag. I didn't waste time waiting at baggage claim waiting to collect my luggage. I had no fear that my luggage would be lost. It was much easier to get around on the subways and trains because I had all my belongings on my back. I even had room to bring a few things back I bought; 2 Blu-rays, 3 CDs, 2 long sleeve shirts, a jacket, and and a new pair of shoes.
I can't mislead you. It wasn't all roses. I had one major frustration; trying to navigate around all the people slowed down by their big suitcases.
If I could change one thing about the way I packed, I would have packed even less.
When I went to Istanbul a couple of years ago, many people expressed how concerned they were about my safety. I wasn't scared, but trusting anybody wasn't part of my plan. I was blown away by the people there. To this day, the Turks are possibly the most hospitable people I have met.
The rug salesmen I was a skeptic of would offer me directions and tea (disclaimer: I don't like tea), asking for nothing in return. I totally missed a boat tour due to some delays on a previous outing. One of the guys working at the hostel, and I was able to reschedule with no monetary penalty. I asked directions to Taksim Square from a waiter on that boat tour. He ended up leading me himself, paying for my subway fare, and even gave me a short tour of the square İstiklal Avenue. There was another time when I was somehow drawn into a game of backgammon with some elderly men and drank a lot of tea with them.
It's been a rough year in Turkey. It seems like they keep having one terrorist attack after another by ISIS and Kurdish militants. Their president keeps becoming more authoritarian, doing his best to crush any dissent.
With all the bad stuff happening, I will go back someday even if the dust hasn't settled.. It's not in despite of anything. There's something wonderful about that place, and the Turkish people are the reason why.
When I had booked my flight to Turkey, I had never heard of Cappadocia. A manager at work, who is well traveled, told me I should visit this place. I was hesitant. It would increase the budget of my trip. It could also be a logistical nightmare for me.
After viewing photos and videos of Cappadocia, there was no way I could visit Turkey without visiting it. I soon found a small tour company which offered budget tours. They provided transportation to and from Cappadocia from Istanbul, two days of tours in Cappadocia, a hot air balloon ride, lodging, and lunch and dinner for both days.
To get to Cappadocia, I took an overnight bus to the region. I walked to a nearby hostel to catch a shuttle to take me to the Istanbul bus terminal. This wasn't a bad place to wait, plus they had fish and chips!
Riding a bus in Turkey is a little different than riding a Greyhound bus. It is much cleaner. When you book, you indicate what gender you are. If you are not married, you will be assigned a seat to a person who is the same sex as you.
We arrived in Göreme early in the morning. I walked to my hotel, but couldn't check in yet. They allowed me to freshen up in their public shower. I was soon picked up for my first tour of the reason.
In Cappadocia, there are three different tour itineraries offered; Red Tour, Green Tour, and Blue Tour. There are many different tour companies, but they basically do the same tours. They also use identical looking vans as transport.
Our tour guide gave all of seven of us in the tour Turkish name. The name he gave me was Cem (pronounced Gem).
The hotel I stayed at was actually a cave.
Early the following morning, a shuttle picked me up to take me to my hot air balloon ride.
After my second full day of touring, I jumped on an overnight bus back to Istanbul that night.
I'm resurrecting this post from my old blog. It was posted on 02/05/11. I reread it today, and it was good to be reminded of.
Last month, the Tulsa Ballet offered tickets to the Taming of the Shew at half the normal price. I'm a sucker for the arts and a good deal, so I immediately checked to see what seats were available. Lo and behold, I could get tickets, priced at $27.50 each, for two orchestra seats in Row A of the February 4 performance. I did not hesitate to snatch those tickets up. I bought a new suit, and made reservations at Trula for the night.
Then it snowed... and snowed... and snowed...
I assumed if my friend and I faced any trouble, it would be because we slid off the road or get stck during the 90 mile drive either there or back. I had prepared for this by packing heavily for a single evening out. I brought a change of clothes, and a hefty coat. God is awesome. He protected us the entire time while we were driving through bad road conditions.
After getting parked, we began walking to the restaurant. It was about a half a mile on the snow-packed sidewalks. When we were about to enter the restaurant, I realized my wallet was not in my pocket. I was panicking on the inside, and probably also on the outside. I had talked myself into believing that the wallet and the contents were a total loss. We walked the same route back to my car. I was surprised to find my wallet outside of my car door, laying in plain view on the snow. I quickly inspected the wallet, and was relieved to see it had not been tampered with.
Do you know what's crazy? I was essentially planning for something bad to happen to me. I was prepared for a mini disaster while traveling. I then made the mistake of dropping my wallet. God could have just let me reaped the consequences for my mistake. He didn't. He was still there for me. He didn't take revenge on me for not trusting Him. He kept providing for me and protecting me.
It's so lovely to serve a God who does not keep score. He's not counting the times I screw up and have done Him wrong.
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." ~Micah 7:18
This makes me examine myself. Do I freely offer to others what God offers to me?
I often think in lyrics. Here are just a few which have lingered with me for a while.
When I was all messed up
And I heard opera in my head
Your love was a light bulb
Hanging over my bed.
I'm feeling better ever since you know me
I was a lonely soul but that's the old me
A little wiser now from what you showed me
Yeah, I feel again, feel again woo hoo
I never really gave up on
Breakin' out of this two-star town
I got the green light
I got a little fight
I'm gonna turn this thing around
I don't want to be
Anything other than what I've been trying to be lately
All I have to do is think of me and I have a peace of mind
I'm tired of looking 'round rooms
Wondering what I've got to do
Or who I'm supposed to be
I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
I hope I get the chance to travel the world
And I don't have any plans
I wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life's a game made for everyone
And love is a prize
But their good times come with prices
And I can’t believe it when I hear the jokes they make
At anyone’s expense except their own
Would they laugh if they knew who paid?
But until my moment comes, I'll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived
It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works.
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
There are some things I saw in Istanbul which will never escape my mind.
This women is most likely not even a Syrian refugee. She's probably a Turk or a Gypsy. She holds a child which is a victim of child trafficking. The child is drugged to sleep with vodka or some other drug. At the end of the day, the woman will give her bounty to a gang leader who is hiding in the shadows. She'll receive a small sum in return, maybe enough to buy her a little food. The woman and child will be in the same place the following day. The child is only a commodity to these people. He or she will most have a short life due to all the drugging, but is also easily replaceable.
I'm only one person, but I constantly ask myself what can I do. I'm still searching.
I speak in U2 lyrics;
So I try to be like You
Try to feel it like You do
But without You it's no use
I can't see what You see
When I look at the world
I'm not an avid user, but I do make use of multiple online dating sites and apps. When I'm browsing through potential matches' photographs, here are a few things that turn me off.
I arrived in Istanbul after about twenty hours in transit. Once I reached the Sultanahmet, the neighborhood in which my hostel was located, the light rail was at a stand still due to traffic. I was able to navigate to my accommodations with navigational assistance from a British student and a rug dealer.
Once I checked in and dropped my bags off at the hostel, I immediately went out by myself to take photos in the surrounding neighborhood. I was taking photos of the Blue Mosque when a lone gentleman walked up to me. We walked around together and talked. The conversation went something like this;
Him: Will you please take my photo in front of the mosque?
Me: Sure, I don't mind
Him: Are you from Turkey?
Me: No, I am traveling from the United States.
Him: I am traveling also. I am from Lebanon. Are you all by yourself?
Me: Yes, I'm traveling alone.
Him: Do you want to go grab a drink?
Him: I know this excellent bar near my hotel.
Me: Ummm, I prepaid for dinner reservations at my hostel. (This was a complete lie.) Would you like to join me there?
Him: No, I really like this bar. I'll buy you a couple of drinks.
Me: No thanks. I need to get back to my hostel now for dinner.
Him: What's going on? I thought we were friends. Why are you walking away?
I learned about this scam from this show called Scam City. The guy gets you into the bar. He goes to the restroom. A beautiful lady comes to your table. You end up buying her a drink or two. The tab comes, and you charged hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a few drinks. A member of the bar staff will escort you to an ATM to get cash to pay your bill. If you refuse, they will beat it out of you.
Later that night, I told someone working at my hostel what happened. He said he had known guys returning to the hostel after falling for this scam.
Jesus follower. Love music, baseball, theater, and traveling. Always up for a new adventure. Always ready to meet new friends.