To Splurge or to Save.

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A Disaster in Planning: The hours of misguided hiking with all our baggage (in more ways than one!). Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Summer 2013.

This week, I was talking to a friend who is planning a trip for himself and his family, and he was talking about how hard it is to stick to a budget and he has no idea where to cut corners that will not cause an uproar from the rest of his brood.

In planning any trip, this is one of the hardest questions you will be faced with and, unfortunately, there is really no cut and dry answer – no specific place you can always cut down on.

The question you really have to ask yourself is: what do you want out of your trip?

If you love food, why would you skip out on trying out local foods even if they pushed your budget a bit. If you can’t sleep unless only you are in a single room with all your luxuries, that’s where your money has to go (you cannot not sleep when traveling). And on and on and on.

This in no way means that you shouldn’t have a limit, but it does mean that you need to work on what you will regret giving up.

My friend is currently trying to convince his family that renting an apartment in London is the best plan since most of their budget has been spent on expensive lodging elsewhere. London hotels are so expensive and every flat I’ve rented has been cheaper yet very well maintained – really think about how you can get around those higher prices whenever you can and your budget will thank you.

On the other hand, my sister and I tried to skimp on lodging when we went on out UK trip which led to the disaster that was Stratford-upon-Avon. The hostel we booked was miles outside of city center which meant that by the time we walked there, all the sights were closed down for the day. I’m all for exercise, but I would have much rather have spent more money for closer accommodations that would have let me spend more time wandering rather than marching.

It’s really about what you are going to regret in either money you miss out on or in the experience you don’t get because you are worried about money.

In London, we went to an attraction called The London Experience which (thank god(!) was free) ended up being a bad cheesy historic horror show followed by a bad horror maze filled with all the worst features of horror mazes, including the dreaded, static-filled squeeze machine. Again, we got in for free because of the London pass, but otherwise we would have had to spend money because the description was bad and we assumed it was a real history tour.

Then in Edinburgh, we opted out of going through the castle because it was too expensive and we had plenty of other things to do. Now, however, I regret not just doing it. I’ve heard great things about it since coming home and would love to compare it to all the other castles I’ve explored.

Yes, these are all relatively small things in terms of the great scope of all the things you will do when traveling but you can never guarantee the chance to do these things again and you will have to go back out and pay your bills so the balancing act is an important one. Your best bet in all things is to find a happy medium and really work on the fine points of budget to travel.

It’s all pretty self-explanatory but if you want to plan it out research, research, research. Start with making a list of the things you don’t want to or can’t skimp on; food, lodging, castles, full tours, ect. or pick a theme you can’t miss out on and build from there. Keeping yourself specific and then building your working budget will truly be your best friend. Finally, leave wiggle room and don’t sweat days (as long as it’s not most days) that you go a bit over budget.

So go, plan, budget, research, wiggle and, as always, have fun!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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To Splurge or to Save.

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