Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

This past weekend, I was at a camping event that seemed to be fighting the environment. We were all sandblasted by a veritable dust/dirt storm the fist two days and had off and on showers (more on than off) on the final day – mostly while trying to pack everything up (which brought out many more bugs than is ever necessary).

I camp with my sister, meaning that we have a easy system. One works and packs in the wet, flooded tent while the other takes a break (you can nap, eat, try to get warm, whatever) inside the car and then you switch. Once camp is broken down, we work together to get everything in the back of the truck and settled. most things have a specific place or weight-derived order – to limit the chances of flying debris later – so again, this all goes rather quick and without incident.

I am also the driver and I like to help pack everything up so that I know I won’t have issues when driving. I also like to be the person pressing the buttons to look for music when we drive – I know where everything is without driving and it keeps me going and she knows not to touch my buttons unless asked.

Ki is the passenger. She looks for food, keeps an eye on the navigation, puts up with my music and – most the time – my rants or weird topics of conversation, and she makes sure that when we get food, I am easily able to access mine without killing us both.

The point? She knows her driver. we are partners in this and very rarely – with the exception of terseness over hormonal or exhaustion fueled outbursts – do we have any kinds of problems and ever those are usually apologized for and waved off before the drive is even finished (usually within 5 minutes of said outburst).

Not everyone gets to have these kinds of relationships.

This was abundantly clear while watching others in our group trying to pack up over the course of the day. These ladies were trying to balance multiple duties while tearing down so they had more to accomplish than ki and I, however, I’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion.

Packing their car is insane. Everything has an exact order and placement to make it all fit which makes sense but was easily thrown off by the incremental packing and the elements (rain) fighting against them.

The big problem comes to a head in a matter of workload and conflicting ideas on who and how things need to get done. This groups driver has very specific ideas on how things should go in the car for all three ladies things to fit. She also seems to think that the others should know how to pack said car the way it needs to be packed so that she doesn’t have to guide every step of the packing. As she puts it, she can’t tire herself out with all the packing, because she need to conserve her energy for staying awake while driving so if it looks like she’s lazing around during the process, that’s what’s going on.

Her passengers, however, know that she will get frustrated if things aren’t packed just so – even when certain things don’t make sense to them – so they will need her input and help to do things like set up and tear down. They have admitted that changing some of the tearing down order would probably be done before hand to smooth out the wrinkles.

Despite years of camping together, these small bumps between passengers and drivers makes me believe communication is a real issue and if you are going to road trip with someone, the very first thing you need to do is find out what your companion(s) needs from you. Every driver is different and as someone who fills this road a lot, it’s really nice when we don’t have to think of everything. But drivers, don’t forget to speak up and even set some ground rules.

Every ship needs a captain – figure out how your ship sails best and I wish you many happy adventures.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

That time in Yosemite.

In my last year of college, my family took a quick trip to Yosemite National Park and, in theme with my current national park love, this trip was both amazing and filled with it’s own special brand of hell.

Getting There:

If you son;t see the flames from where you are, beware that this is the problematic part of the trip. To set the scene: my family was driving up to the park from the LA area but I – all by myself – planned to meet them at the hotel within the park  since I was finishing my classes and then heading out for spring break. All in all, I was not worried. I was used to trekking the 7-ish hours home fairly regularly so the 4-is hours it was supposed to take to get to the park was never going to be a problem, even if I was starting out between 3 and 4 o’clock.

Cut to me three and then four hours later, missing a phone charger with 10% battery left in my GPS and limited data. Cut to me half an hour later driving through woods in the dark with no reception and frankly no idea where I was (My GPS at the time was really unreliable even for the portable 2010 edition I think it was).

What I remember most was having to turn around and driving back 15  or 20 minutes to a tiny town praying for reception enough to call my family. No one answered. I waited 10 minutes more and the phone rang. The call was patchy but yes, the hotel was just inside the park. That’s about it.

So I thought, F*** it. Let’s drive and hope for the best. I turned the radio up and scream/sang to whatever was on and drove until I say lights. There it was. And there was my older sister looking into the parking lot from the store.

I got out of the can and when she made it to me, I hugged her tight and sobbed, ‘I’m never driving here alone again’ and then just cried.

Yep, she laughed but also hugged me back and brought me food. In the end, with family at the end of the road, I survived and slept very, very well.

But the view was worth it!

After the – may I call it harrowing? – drive down, I really hoped that I would be able to put it all behind me and relax. Yosemite totally delivered.

It’s been about 5 years since this trip so some of the details are fuzzy but others are not.

First, this whole park is beautiful and I wish we had had a longer time to do and see more – I can only imagine it now after all the rain. Again, we weren’t there for very long – we had to get back home for holy week – but we did some pretty cool stuff while we could.

There are a great variety of hike to do at Yosemite ranging from easy walks to check you balance and watch-your-phobias difficult hikes with a wide range of crowd numbers for you to deal with. Since my family ranges in fitness level and desire to trek up mountains, we planned full and partial group activities.

Together we competed the Bridalveil Falls hike. All together the ‘hike’ is a little over a mile round trip and be prepared for misty glasses and cameras. But while the mist is heavy, it is lovely! It’s a pretty iconic view so have your camera out throughout your walk because pictures are great from all over.

Our other hiking day, the family split. Mom and two sisters headed to Mirror Lake (another iconic space but be careful because it is crowded) but the other half of our group headed up to the Upper Falls and Yosemite Point. While this is a pretty long hike – 9.6 miles round trip – the elevation makes it seem like much longer. I really enjoyed myself and this hike started my fitness push – it kicked my butt more than a little bit. Warning, however: if you are afraid of heights, this hike will push you. About 90% of the way up, my sister (who is afraid of heights) had to stop after harrowing through narrow passages and slick roads and a fairly large crowd of hikers in both directions. She ended up in a little alcove with some snacks encouraging those hikers that passed by, a few joining her for a small break – I like to think she helped a few make it to the top with her kind words.

If you make it to the Upper Falls, you should consider the Point as well as your comfort level with heights and climbing down small areas onto ledges. I had to both think of what I was physically doing and yet, shut my brain off to where I was doing it to get to the point (though it looks narrower than it is.). In the end, we were exhausted and soar but even for Bex who didn’t quite make it, the hike was so worth every aching step.

10/10: Would travel again:

While I will never drive here alone again – I only make those kinds of mistakes once! – revisiting this park is definitely on my bucket list! Maybe I’ll even get Bex – a newly inspire ranger-hopeful – all the way up that mountain. Until next time and the rest of my bucket list:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

That time in Yosemite.

Notes From the Road

I have never claimed to be a travel expert – in fact, more often than not I’ve made it very clear that despite all my advice, I’m one who makes consistent rookie mistakes.

Well, we are back on the road exploring my old haunts but this time flanked by my baby sister (yes, baby at 22) and grandma. My grandma was really on top of everything; she fleshed out the sleeping arrangements, organized with the family we’re staying with, bought the snacks and waters, and made sure the car we were driving was completely checked out before we set out early yesterday morning (an important step in road-tripping I always forget to mention!).

So, with all of that taken care of, and what could possibly have gone wrong to warrant my non-expert warning in the opening of this post?

Sometimes real life messes with you and that is all there is to it. We started our trip on Boxing Day (December 26) after spending the week leading up to Christmas running around on errand after errand and from family to family. School only let out on the Wednesday leading up to Christmas and running around trying to perp for that distracted me from one of my big trip steps: Christmas evening became laundry time.

To clarify, I had three loads and a washing machine that is pretty good at it’s job (normally). However, when I went to move load two from washer to dryer, the clothes were still dry – something went very wrong. I restarted the cycle but suddenly three loads, which to wash and dry would normally take me 4 hours, weren’t finished for seven and a half hours. With packing, I finally climbed into bed at 2 am (with a wake up time of 6.30).

Still, tired and cold, I got up in good spirits and headed out.

Usually, when I make the trip from my house to Sonoma, I drive straight through and get up here in about six and a half hours. But remember when I talked about knowing who you are traveling with as much as the when? Yes, six and a half hours was a pipe dream.

We were 2 hours into the drive when grandma asked if we were ready for breakfast (seeming to imply that she was). When we settled on a restaurant with a reasonable wait time, I never imagined us eating and talking for an hour and a half (we did) so by the time we got back on the road, holiday traffic had caught up to us.

When I’ve road tripped in the past, one way I always saved time by timing a quick bite to coincide with stopping for gas; now, however, we were definitely not timing anything.

Which leads to one event no one could predict – an accident 20 miles up that took 2 hours to get through. Add in one more bathroom stop wth a gas-up and driving through the unlit woods above Sonoma in the dark, and out 7 hour drive was an all day event; totaling closer to 10 hours and some change.

Still, we made it and are ready and able to go. So, until next time:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar

Notes From the Road

Staycation? Make it a day trip.

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Isles Anniversary, California. November 2016.

This weekend, there is a camping trip for the SCA and while I would love to get out of my life for a weekend (it’s getting addicting), I have way too much stuff on my plate to add in planning a long, busy weekend. What I can happily set out to do is give myself a day off and road-trip up and back to the campsite.

Remember, the whole point of a staycation, whether you get just beyond your own city or explore your city, is to get out of your own head and relax.

In this case, a friend and I are road-tripping about 2 hours (so barely a road trip – but again: staycation!) up to camp and, just like any road-trip, there are things to consider.

Money: Are you splitting costs such as gas, snacks, or anything else that comes along? Sometimes it’s worth it to divide these costs but other times when they are so small, it’s not worth splitting hairs. Best policy is to discuss before setting out.

Timing: When do you need to leave and when do people need to be home by? Where are you meeting up (important to know for your personal timing)? Never ever make the person who is driving wait for you! I have had to wait on people many times and there was nothing worse than starting a road trip ticked off by the people you are going to have to sit in a car with for hours on end.

Doing Your Part: This could mean picking up coffee for everyone, or volunteering to drive part of the way, or working as the DJ or navigator (taking into consideration everyone in the car with you!). Basically, stepping up so that no one is left doing everything themselves.

Now, just because a staycation doesn’t make you go as far (and in my case, for very little time), doesn’t mean you should skip out on the prep and planning. If you aren’t going far from home for a day or two, having to buy anything because you forgot supplies from batteries to sunglasses to power chords and chargers can put a real damper on your trip. In that case, so can getting lost if you don’t look up your directions beforehand.

So yes, go out and hike, to a campsite, to a beach, anywhere out of your element and center yourself.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

 

Staycation? Make it a day trip.

5 Tips to being a Good House Guest…

House guest etiquette for broke post-grads staying with other post-grads.

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Together again! Rohnert Park, California. April 2016.

I’m back! As a few hours ago, I wrapped up the end of my road-trip/visit back to my college three and a half years later (strangely enough, the same amount of time I lived there!). The trip was incredible and in the weeks that follow I will definitely be filling you all in on the fabulous places we went and everything we saw, but I’m starting out with a huge thank you post to one of my college flatmates and our host for the weekend.

So part one in my good guest guide is thoughtful gift giving. For our host, this was a Dodger Dog – a stuffed dog which stretches out into a pillow perfectly sized for an airplane ride which she takes often for US marathons. As a SoCal native, she is a die-hard Dodger fan living in Giants’ territory so a gift that cost us $10 was thoughtful, personal, but didn’t break the bank. The key to this is knowing your host and doing something that brightens their day.

Another money step is paying in your share. Yes, we’re broke and we paid for gas to get to their home, but then we stayed for free – any of us that can afford to do a road trip can afford to buy our respective hosts a few meals and/or drinks. Remember, they are saving you more by letting you stay over than you will spend on food so you are still saving. Again this comes down to knowing your host – ours is quick handed and gives to others as much as she can so it was always a fight over the bill. If you have this kind of host, be quick but also gracious when/if you don’t win or, better yet, try heading off the waiter when you go to use the bathroom so they’ll hand the bill directly to you.

Now moving away from money – again we are talking as poor post-grads here – always be a gracious guest.

This means cleaning up after yourself. This can be cleaning up towels and any makeup/toiletries from the bathroom so you aren’t taking over, or keeping all of your clothes and unmentionables out of sight and out of the way.

This also means knowing what will work in your space and what won’t – and not by your want or opinion but your hosts! We were very lucky that our host was out with us for a large amount of time and, therefore, we never had to remake the couch bed every morning and night, but this isn’t always the case. For many households our age, roommates can be a issue, especially in terms of them needing your borrowed space during your stay, so be courteous and clean up the areas you are borrowing without moaning about it.

Lastly: time management. Invite your host to anything that you can invite them to but don’t feel like you need to stick with them at all times. Just be upfront with them from the get-go. There may be plans that they can’t go with you for – we had a film preview and book signing that only two of us could attend through work connections but timing meant that our host had work of her own – but other outings, they may have no interest in. If you talk out your plans, all should be well!

But that’s all for me tonight, but with much, much more travel and posts to come!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

5 Tips to being a Good House Guest…

A Pre-Road Trip Check List…

A bit ago, I wrote a post on my desire to get back on the road. Well, this weekend I will get that chance, though not as I had originally planned.

It’s one on my college friend’s final recital up at Sonoma State University, so this weekend my best friend and I will be taking a familiar 6 hour road trip that I haven’t taken in just over 3 years.

We’ve made this drive many (many!) times, but on each trek I was always the one driving…. faster than I probably should have. But this time around, I’ll be sitting in the passenger seat and doing my very best to stay awake… which is more than my regular passengers can say!

While there are definite must-haves when you decide to take off (your favorite snack foods, drinks in a cooler, you know, sustenance!), there are also things to negotiate between your party. Some of these just deal with cost – who covers gas or food and what your manageable and agreeable budget is – while others are just to make sure you and your companions aren’t bored out of your minds.

So budget is really first since that’s the hardest thing to talk about, and if you don’t have the conversation, one person will always be left holding the bag. You and your companions will have to figure this on your own but you must have this talk before going! Trust me, it will save you many headaches.

While I am a fan of fashion and style, if you are in a car for an extended period of time, fashion should take a back seat. Skinny jeans don’t have great stretch or give and shorts or small skirts make your legs/leg sweat stick to your seats. I’m opting for some easy leggings and a long shirt, throw in some boots and a hoodie of warmth. Again, like prepping for an airplane: easy, comfortable, and movable.

As long as there is more than one person, you should have “games” on hand. I’m not talking games like punch-buggy – I’m not allowed to play this game as I’ve been deemed to competitive and aggressive… – or the license plate game.

My best friend and I are total nerds so we’ve recently gotten to highly academic debates over nerdy topics – the most recent was: which would you rather have the Doctor’s (of BBC’s Doctor Who) TARDIS or psychic paper? Can you guess who won?

I like these fun nerd-offs because you can pull from all over the logical spectrum and note episodes if you want. It not only tests your knowledge but gives you quite the lively conversation as well – this helps with the not falling asleep thing. Also, unlike all the purchasable games available now, debates are free! Just steer clear of topics that will cause animosity more than fun whether this be politics, your favorite Doctor, or Marvel/DC.

The other thing that can help you in the case of falling asleep – or better yet, not falling asleep – is a killer playlist. Just like everything else in this situation – you are trapped in a tiny space with other people with no real way of getting out – music must be a mutual decision. Whether this is a mixed playlist that pulls joint or a few of everyone’s favorites or just a rotation of everyone’s favorite radio stations, keep the tunes peaceable.

Just remember, if you opt for radio, if you are going any sizable distance, the radio will eventually cut out the stations you know and you’ll be flying musically blind! Never fun.

So clothes, games, music, money, and food… so the only thing left to consider (along with money) is planning for sleep on journeys lasting longer than a day. This ends with deciding if you want to plan ahead going from point A to hotel B to motel C and so and so forth, or if you want to go as far as you possibly can in a day and then see what’s around when you are able to stop. Either way, it’s good to talk this all out before leaving home to make sure everyone in your party is comfortable.

That’s all and I can’t wait to feel the wind in my hair!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Pre-Road Trip Check List…

To get where you’re going…

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From the Bus. Road between Cork and Waterford, Ireland. Summer, 2013

…Without going broke.

So now that you know where you’ll be laying your head (and baggage) every night, how do you think you’ll be getting there? If you’ve been going along with these posts, you know I’ve already told you to think about it. But now we’ll be diving in and talking about the cheapest ways and the deals you can find before your feet ever leave home.

To revamp the kinds of travel you may came across, there are: planes, trains, and automobiles (your own and rentals), taxis, boats and ferries, buses, undergrounds, bikes, mopeds, motorcycles, etcetera, etcetera… and of course, those handy things at the bottom of you legs, those… what do you call ‘em? Oh, feet.

On your trip, it’s all well and good if you opt to make these plans on the fly; spontaneity is well and good and if you can’t do this on your travels, I ask: when can you? However, planning ahead can save you bundles to funnel into your “fun money” rather than your necessities fund. And obviously, whatever mode or combinations you pick all come back to what you can afford, where you are going and who you are with, so once again keep this in mind!!

Let’s give some examples. If you are going to ROAD TRIP ACROSS A LONG DISTANCE—like across country—most likely your point isn’t going to be simply to get from point A to point B. You want to be able to wander and make things up as you go. So here are your choices:

1.Take your own car—you don’t have to shell out money for the actual car, just gas and provisions. You will however be putting quiet a few miles on said car so you’ll have to think about what that means for the value of your car later and figuring how much gas you—most likely slightly older car—will be burning through. This also requires a round trip. You can’t drive your car across a country and just leave it there… unless you are also willing to pay someone else to drive it back or rent it to a traveler who’s road tripping to your area… All in all, if you are driving your own car, plan for making a circle and having the money in your budget to get both to however far you are going and back.

2.Renting a car—first off, know the rules to renting a car in the area you’ll be renting from (you may be able to drive at 16 in the US but most places won’t let you drive a rental unless you are 25!). Then, factor in the cost of renting, renters insurance, gas, and all the factors included in renting the car. Is there a limit to the miles you can put on the car, or a fee for going over a certain amount? Decide if that fee or limit is worth it and do a bit more research. Can multiple people (who meet the criteria) be on the paperwork as drivers? Can you rent from this renter here (point A) and return it there (point B)? If not, maybe you should look for another place to rent from. The positive part of renting is that you can make plans to drive one way and come back by another—possibly cheaper and quicker—means. If you have an exact date that you must be at point B or leave it, you can go ahead and book a flight back (just have a way to get home from the airport!). If you’re not sure about your end dates, look into bus and/or train schedules; these can be cheaper and—depending what mode or company you use—faster route back home.

But again that’s just one example of one pretty small scale trip. Look back at your notes; at where you are going, stopping, staying, staying with, cities or rural areas, and finally look at what transportation will actually get you there.

Start with getting from destination from destination:

Do you have to FLY to get to your fist stop? If so, start here. There are deals all over the internet (as we’ve discussed before), just waiting to be discovered. Look at airlines you have travel points or miles with because, believe it or not, these can get you a long way. Do you mind stopping at multiple ports or do you need to just get there in one go? Direct flights can be more expensive but there’s also less worry over bags or your person not making your connecting flight. Running through airports can be picturesque and an adrenaline rush of will you/won’t you make your flight, but really it’s mostly just stressful. If you do have layovers, have you spaced them apart enough that you aren’t running through the terminals in a panic? Have you factored in going through security and possibly customs? Also remember that weather is an actual issue for things like planes. I’ve had scheduled layovers that were supposed to be upwards of three hours, but due to weather issues with our first plane landing (and being redirected) and the second plane actually leaving on time (don’t ask me how they managed that!) we and another lovely couple made that lovely, frantic sprint (and no worries we made it—though it’s possible that that is where our bags did not).

Now the details one cannot overlook: Does the flight provide food or do you need to plan your own meals? What are the bag limits (number, size, and weight)? All airlines have slightly different rules so if you find a deal on one site ALWAYS check the airlines official site for their conditions! Also, sometimes big name airlines aren’t the cheapest one’s you’ll find, though the do tend to be the most secure for refunds, lost baggage, and the like. Again, it’s all a game of balancing pros and cons so really: research, research, research!

My tip, if you hear about a deal, research it right away and make your plan early; flights tend to be cheaper the further in advance that you buy them. In country, I almost always fly with Southwest. The crews are generally really funny and I have rarely had a problem whether I’m flying the one hour from LA to San Francisco or across the country to New York. Get suggestions from people who have traveled and research the airlines (always weary that reviews rarely see the middle ground and are usually just a place to bash based on negative experiences)—I, for one, should have researched the company that flew the quick jump from England to Ireland, rather than hearing later that (just like us) many a traveler has been bagless after such a flight. Though I admit that their customer service on the ground were some of the nicest people I’ve met in that kind of situation.

So, you aren’t flying (and don’t fall into the road trip discussed above) or have flown into an airport that isn’t quite your first location? What’s next? Maybe a BOAT? If you are doing something like a cruise, this is a lot like picking to stay at a resort; there’s not much planning besides how to get to the start location and what clothes you need when you get there. That’s it; done. If the boat is simply a means for transportation (like a ferry) there are a few extra things to note. Just like in flight, what is covered and what is not? Are you moving from one country to another and, therefore, need proper documents and time to move through security and customs? What kind of tickets are offered (a swift pass or regular)? So say it with me now: research, research, research!

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Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle sculpture by Yinka Shonibare. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, England. Summer, 2013.

On my last trip, we took a ferry from Dublin, Ireland to Holyhead, Wales through Irish Ferries. The trip was easy and the cab driver who brought us was great. Just like traveling to an airport it’s suggested you get there early, but when you do pay close attention! We ordered ahead and, because of an event scheduled for later that day (a McFly concert to be more specific), we chose the Swift pass. While this costs a bit extra, it turns the approximately five hour boat ride into a two hour one…. Or it would if you are paying attention and don’t switch your tickets for the regular pass because it leaves an hour earlier. The problem is, the people working may not remind you of which pass you have or mention the time and money difference (unless they are owed), even as they are changing your information. READ: paying attention to these details is up to you as the traveler. This particular company has a few ports between Ireland, Britain, and France, but they are not the only one of their kind. If you have a small distance to travel that is covered by water and the time to spend on a boat, this is a nice and sometimes cheaper option to flying.

We’ve covered traveling by sea and by sky, so now let’s move onto a single lantern; travel by LAND. This can mean—for large scale travel—rentals (which we have covered), trains and buses. For either of the latter, you can pay from place to place as you go or plan ahead and look for passes that let you use a countries train or bus systems or, for some passes both. Looking at the price of these kind of passes may seem extreme for a single payment, but you should consider the fact that, if you travel the way these are intended, they save you long term in both time (trying to figure out what kind of ticket you need for this particular trip or day) and money. On my UK trip last summer, my sister and I used two such passes; the BritRail Flexi Pass from ACP Rail International for any train transport all day, for 8 days, anytime in a 2 month period while traveling through England, Scotland, and Wales, and the Multi-Journey Irish Explorer Bus and Rail Pass from Bus Eireann while in Ireland. While we were technically able to use either bus or train travel on this pass, we tended to have an easier time using buses on the Irish Explorer as this was an easier system for us to access and understand.

I can’t explain the love I had for these passes. They were really easy and we could have ridden all day on them without worrying about getting off at a specific spot because that’s where we already paid for. It was a very freeing structure and it really did save us money. And ACP Rail isn’t just for the UK but has a bunch of different passes depending on where you are going. I really recommend looking into this site.

Again, something to think about Buses are usually slower compared to trains so the latter is usually better if you are crossing a large distance but both have maps and schedules that you should pay close attention to. Sometimes you only need to take one bus or train from place to place but for other destinations, you may be taking three or more. Sometimes there may ever be two terminal in one city and your second bus/train may not hit the stop your at but the one across town. Always check the listings and, if you are unsure, locate the information office and ask.

For those trying to travel in the US—I’m so sorry our overall transportation system is lagging. If anyone reaches out, I’m happy to do more research, but, as of now, my information is lacking.

For SMALLER SCALE TRAVEL (like within one town or city) you’ll frequently take taxis, small term rentals (from cars to mopeds and motorbikes, to city bikes and segways), metro systems, subways or undergrounds and of course walking. Most frequently, you won’t be paying for these (if you have to pay at all) before your trip. Instead these will be part of your “on trip budget” and will be taken care of (you guessed it!) on your trip. For overall planning, you may want to allocate a certain amount of money to this part of your trip, but for me, it was easier to just jot down these costs with the other expenses during the trip to decide if we could afford to grab a taxi—which tends to be more expensive—or a cheaper means of getting where we needed to be.

The exception to this pay as you go rule would be systems like subways and undergrounds that have various passes that can help you on your budget. Whether this is worth it, of course, depends on how long you are going to be in that smaller location. My family was in London for a little over a week and we knew we would be going on and off the underground multiple times a day for most of the days we were there. We chose to pre-pay for The London Pass. We paid for six days (with a special deal where we got one free day) which allowed us to pick seven days of unlimited travel on those days, including peak hours, simply for the price of the pass. Unlike an Oyster card—which may be another wise choice for a shorter stay—you get marked by the day only, not by the trip or time of the trip. There are also deals on attractions that go along with this pass, so again, check out the site and see the deals and any limitations there may be. These are the deals I know about in London, but most major cities with built in transportation systems there should be built in structures like this. It’s all about researching, talking to others, and seeing what is out there for where you are going.

NOW that you have looked through your options and compared rates and started to nail down your plans and prices, start putting them down in your Excel budget on your “Travel” tab. The cost may seem high, but remember that spending pretrip is saving you money on trip. Again, if you want to guesstimate your on trip travel budget, go ahead and add that in. Now, between the cost of Lodging and Travel, and taking those costs from your total, you should be able to see about where your on trip budget falls. You can divide this final total by the number of days you will be one your trip to find your approximate daily budget. Some days will be higher or lower based on the sites you are planning to visit, local travel expenses, food, drink, entertainment, and any shopping you plan on doing. Does this number seem manageable (remember money has different value depending on where you are going and the currency they use)? If so, grate; continue on. If not, look back at your planning thus far. Are there things you can cut out? Do you have a money reserve you are willing to tap into? Are you willing to dive in are just see what happens? In the end, these are the choices that will have to be made until you have a plan and budget that you can live with.

Once again, don’t plan to have this all done in one sitting. I’ve said it a lot, thus far and will no doubt say it again: traveling, especially with a budget, takes research. Research takes time. Move at the pace you can work at but always remembering that deals tend to happen earlier rather than later. It’s you money and your trip, make the best out of both and enjoy yourself.

Until next time,

I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

To get where you’re going…