The Frugal Traveler


hi its Jill Schlesinger on this episode
of Jill on money we are getting ready for your summer vacation a lot of people
think I’m just gonna go relax but what you want is you want a trip that changes
your life in some way it doesn’t have to be a huge change it doesn’t have to be
like a new career or anything like that but at least in a little way it changes
your life welcome to the Jill on Money podcast we
are presented by Marcus by Goldman Sachs well it is summer travel season and so
mark and I were trying to figure out who should be the guest of honor to help
talk about that mark says I’ve got the guy Seth Google his book is called
rediscovering travel a guide for the globally curious he is the New York
Times columnist he writes the frugal traveler and he’s going to help you make
the most of your travels of your vacation and the thing I love about this
is he doesn’t want to do it with an unlimited budget but he also is very
clear on how to focus on an experience now you know we do so much fun stuff
here at the show well stay tuned at the end of our interview we’ve got a brand
new feature that we’re rolling out and it is fun so check it out stick around
into the interview new feature here’s our interview with Seth you’re listening
to Jill on money with Jill Schlesinger let’s start with a very important
question that we begin every interview with ready the best money or career
decision you have made well I think it was going to Brazil in the summer of
2003 because I wanted to learn Portuguese I got on a boat in the Amazon
somebody actually told me I was just trying to learn a new language and they
said well if you really want to learn Portuguese after you studied for a few
months go to the Colombian Brazilian border mmm get on a boat for four days
from the border to the capital of the Amazon which is the city called Manaus
and in four days you’re gonna be sleeping on a hammock so how about
hundred Brazilians and all they’re gonna want to do is talk to you so you’re
gonna learn more Portuguese in four days and you did in class for a year and you
know it is the best advice I ever got and even
other than that when I got back to New York the travel editor of the New York
Times so I knew but I had never written for said to me hey stuff I need some new
writers have you been anywhere interesting recently I said well yeah in
fact I have I was just learning Portuguese on a boat going down the
Amazon that’s cool that’s all my career as a travel writer started okay so when
you think about travel writing in general its sometimes can be kind of
boring so how do they make it exciting well to me travel writing now is all
about your personal experience if you want the facts about where to go it’s
all online you just google it you look on TripAdvisor you look on booking.com
for the hotel and you read all the facts about it
Travel is all about your personal experience and that means doing things
your own way not listening to what other people say you should do not going to
see the Mona Lisa when you’re in Paris unless you’re dying to see the Mona Lisa
because there are some crowds there it’s an amazing and yet you look at people’s
selfies who sit there he’ll go to the Mona Lisa it looks like they’re alone
with the Mona Lisa a lot of the stuff we get from travel marketing it’s kind of a
lie I mean they want you to go to the Most Wanted of Venice and Paris and do
the most typical things and go to the Caribbean and sit in a resort Travel is
really about getting out into the world meeting people or seeing marvelous
nature but not surrounded by a bunch of other travelers so I always advocate I’m
not saying you need to go off to the most obscure village where there’s never
been any tourists ever although that is a lot of fun and I have done that I’m
just talking about getting a little bit away from the mainstream travelers and
stop posting so much on Instagram and thinking about the people who are back
home and getting and and getting out there and doing what you want to do
thinking about like what do I want to get out of this trip do you love food
and eating a lot of people do so you know Center your trip around markets
that sell exotic fruits or about great bakeries in the place where you going to
I mean Columbia for example is a great country to eat in bakeries people don’t
know that Columbia has great bakeries where I have to admit I live in a
Colombian neighborhood in Jackson Heights Queens which also has great food
food so there’s a ton of Colombian bakeries I go to all the time here’s a
little I just was in Prague in the Czech Republic doing a story and I am a total
beer snob in the United States I always have I pas you know I’d be a pale ale
because I think it has more flavor than regular beer and I used to drink regular
old loggers in the US and then I was just got to be I guess now I’m a little
bit of snob all oh no then in Prague everything’s Pilsner and I loved it
because they just have it it’s so fresh it’s so well made and I turn into a
pilsner snob being in the Czech Republic and I my trip really turned out to be
focused around beer of course I went to Prague Castle I ate a lot of Italy’s
traditional sort of former communist cafeterias which were cool but what I
remember about the trip is going to be I’ve sort of been turned on again to
another kind of beer which will impact my day-to-day life and it is really what
you want you want to come back from a trip a lot of people think I’m just
gonna go relax but what you want is you want a trip that changes your life in
some way it doesn’t have to be a huge change it doesn’t have to be like a new
career or anything like that but some way that at least in a little way it
changes your life like I appreciate a a new kind of beer or I’ve made some new
friends say in a village somewhere when you write an article about the
experience talk about the feedback that you get from the readers because I think
that so many people are striving for the experience but they struggle to say like
okay I’ve got my guidebook and I got to check these things off how do you
suggest they balance that one of my I think it might be my top piece of advice
of all time is of course you want to plan your trip and you want to look in
the guidebooks and look online and read reviews and all that kind of stuff the
sacrifice you make for being spontaneous and travel is very small right you’re
gonna lose that an hour at most maybe oh you see a store or you you you’re on
your way to a fancy restaurant but you see oh really like you’re in Italy and
you see a little neighborhood Bistro that’s really just totally pack with
people and someone’s playing music and a couple people are dancing well you know
walk in anyway see if there’s a table for you screw your reservation in a in a
fancy restaurant and see and you know what the worst thing
can happen again oh you have a bad meal well first of all I doubt you’re gonna
have a bad meal a second of all what you missed a michelin-starred restaurant in
Italy Oh a michelin-starred restaurant back home you know make up for it or
something like that so I really advise people to not get caught up in a list of
things they have to do and just check them off checking off lists is the worst
possible way to travel I hate the term bucket list hmm because it makes you
think that there are certain things people have to see in order to be a
civilized cultured traveler one of the places people love to go traveling these
days is Thailand I’ve never been to Thailand I’m a travel writer and I’ve
ever been really I feel bad about that sort of in a superficial way I do but
you know what I do live in America in Europe those are the places I like to go
I’ve been to Korea I’ve been to China but I’ve never been to tell me what I
like to go if you handed me a ticket where I go tomorrow I would but I’m not
like wrapped up in the fact that I haven’t been to Thailand you don’t feel
bad about yourself people just look at me they’re like what do you mean you’ve
never look I’ve been – I have a lot of friends in Brazil and a lot of friends
in Mexico a lot of friends in France I like to visit places multiple times
there’s another piece of advice don’t think you have to be everywhere once in
a lot of times it’s better to be in one place five times than to go to five
different countries once you get to know a place maybe you pick up a few words of
the language you meet people the people in the in the corner store remember you
from the last time you stayed in that same bed and breakfast or whatever I
think that that’s a great advice because I think that there are people who say
like oh I have to go this place or that place and I think about even the last
time that I was in Italy I had never been to this one region called Emilia
Romagna which is supposed to be like the best food of Italy and so we like had
gone to Venice and actually someone said to me Oh Venice I hate Venice like
everybody gets a hate on for something and they’ll tell you oh let me tell you
why I hate that it’s ready we had an amazing time we went to these weird
neighborhoods part that are like like the part of Venice that nobody goes to
was amazing like you said we just ambled in we never I don’t even think we went
to a site I swear to God I think we just walked all over and tried to figure out
we’ve said how long will it take to get lost every day in
which was kind of a fun thing sure getting losses for it okay so we rent
the car by the way renting a car in Venice is a trip and getting out of
Venice was a trip and we drove across the middle of emilia romagna and we ate
our way for like the next five days and I think we had a reservation in a small
hotel but that was it and then we met people and we met the guy who was like a
weird US like he was Italian born u.s. lawyer started a vineyard took us out
for dinner wanted us to meet his friend who owns the restaurant met them did
that like those are the things that are so memorable to me one good way to
choose where you want to go is how friendly the people have a reputation of
being there so it’s Italy one of its probably its greatest strength is that
this sort of adventure in Italy is easy to have as long as you can get out of
well you did the right thing go in other neighborhoods and Venice it’s not even
that hard just Google like non touristy Venice you’re gonna find a lot of pieces
of it you have to go again you have to go place with no tourists just places
that are a little as crowded but then Italians are so wide open to meeting new
people and there are a lot of fun especially in small towns that are a
little lazier now if you’re thinking about these experiences do you have an
opinion Hotel versus Airbnb do you think both have merits what what’s your how do
you come down on this well I do think they both have merits I think it depends
on what you want if you want a sort of a more catered experience and you want to
have things be a little easier than a hotel is probably the way to go there’s
always a little bit of complication with vacation rentals like Airbnb there’s
always a chance that you’re not gonna meet up with a person at the right time
and there’s always a chance it’s not gonna be quite what you thought it was
gonna be I do use Airbnb it’s not my favorite company I think that well it’s
a little bit like uber in the sense that they they do skirt the law and a lot of
places and now you know we live in New York and in New York there’s a lot of
Airbnb rentals that are illegal they keep they even having out in the subway
have you seen this the these announcements please report anyone
illegally renting out their apartment in your building
oh yeah that’s because they’re being be they basically allow you to do it until
you’re caught right and I don’t like that it impacts I was in a neighborhood
in Lisbon I stayed in one
under full air B&B it’s great basically it’s great for travelers it’s not always
great for the people living in the city that’s prob but if you’re a traveler and
you know you have no conscience like me you do the best thing but but Airbnb is
a really it’s a great idea for a company and it’s been very successful and the
reason is it is cool to stay in a residential neighborhood so all other
things being equal I’d rather stay in an apartment or a house in a residential
area close to the touristy area where the attractions are than to stay in a
hotel but there’s no doubt that being in a hotel you’re much more um taken care
of right and and you know you can have long horrible days that you’re trekking
and doing stuff and you come back and you’re like oh there’s been maid service
there’s like little things like that I found that in certain places as a
english-speaking person having a hotel can be very helpful so have you traveled
to Japan at all well I have a story about that but the bottom line is no I
had a trip cancelled right after the tsunami oh gosh I mean that was a place
that I found I was so happy that I went and had no desire to go back so is that
is that you know you ever have that experiencing this was educational it was
interesting it was hard though I mean they do not speak English very widely
obviously there was like that moment in the subway where I stared at the sign
trying to figure out which subway to get on and of course this is not our
alphabet the concierge at my hotel had very nicely written down on a piece of
paper what I should be looking for and I literally was looking at my piece of
paper looking up at the board looking at my paper and I probably was standing
there for 15 minutes nobody trick would help me then total gringo walks by he
says hey do you need some help I said oh my god I love you where are you from
because I’m from California but I’ve been here for 20 years
he said looks at the piece of paper he starts laughing he goes you’re on the
wrong track I said would they have let me stay there for an hour he goes no
they would have let you stayed there forever yeah I had a fairly similar
experience in China which has a similar problem with the way the language is
written in a lack of people speaking English by the way you should be
thankful you speak English if you were from you know let’s say you were from
germ Germany and you ran around trying to speak German all over the world we
find no one to help you at least with English we’re very lucky we should we
should realize that the language of travel around the world and younger
people maybe Japan’s an exception but most places if you look for someone
who’s under 25 they probably speaks some English I’ve been watching YouTube and I
felt like the Chinese people were totally excited and interested in sort
of like hey who are you and this was a while ago so it’s almost 10 years ago
that I was in China I actually think I scared the crap out of these Japanese
people like we’re in you know we’re in different places and I’m big I’m tall
and that’s very daunting I felt like a lot of women looked at me and we’re a
little frightened and turned away I was a little too small and then my friend of
mine who’s blond says imagine she was six feet and blond she goes oh my god
they were touching my hair like crazy it is true I shouldn’t speak badly of the
Chinese they are great hosts I had a well I tried I took a boat of the
Yangtze River and I like is my want I decided to get off at a random town
where there was not only no one who spoke English there were no signs even
with Roman like even like a store sign you couldn’t even tell what kind of a
store it was the people were very curious about me and were very nice to
me and one woman the hotel clerk and in one place I was asking her through
Google Translate by the way a great tool for travelers these days makes it easier
than it used to be right where should I have breakfast she called her son in
Beijing who spoke English put me on the phone with him that we decided on a
place coz he was from the town so he knew a place for lamb noodles handed the
phone back to her he talked to her she got gets up from behind the reception
desk in the hotel takes me outside puts me in her car drives me to the land
noodle place orders for me waits while I eat and then drives me back to them okay
so there it is that’s experienced quintessential what’s your view on
self-guided or getting tour guides when you go to a place that I mean obviously
you don’t necessarily need a tour guide in Florence or in Paris because it’s
pretty easy to get around but what about places where you think it might be
either more efficient or you’re going to get something much different there’s
certain places that you sort of have to have a guide so there’s a lot of nature
oriented or adventure travel kind of places or that you you sort of stuck
without a guide I was recently in the Amazon in Brazil and you can’t really do
the Amazon on your own first of all it’s dangerous second of all you couldn’t get
to the place I had an amazing four mile four kilometer or two mile whatever that
is so confusing we never went back it was about a three hour walk through a
rainforest like real primary forest with a guide who was part indigenous showing
us what all the plants were in sort of chopping at the bark with his machete
eat so we could see the little milky substance come out and he’d say how he
defeated to his kids and stuff like that that’s a sort of thing you need to
evaluate is this something I really need a guide for is it something that I can
print something out a lot of walking tours are available that you can kind of
just print out and I really recommend actually printing them out and you can
get a lot of information that way and that’s kind of fun you’re wandering
you’re following a map and then there’s other places you can just kind of you
know walk around on your own food tours this is a good thing to do I certainly
I’m not really big on full package tours where you’re big being taken everywhere
by a guide some people like that it’s fine but you do just have much less
incentive to talk to anybody my sister-in-law had stumbled a few years
back on context tours have you heard about these guys they’re really
interesting and you can go to you know lots of different cities and you can get
they have these very specific tours that say like oh I have an architecture
student in Paris who will sort of do the architectural tour of Paris or I’ll do
this one and so they’re easy to book it’s all online and it’s pretty
affordable I mean as opposed to getting I mean I had an amazing tour guide in
Turkey in Istanbul it was honestly phenomenal and never would have gotten
to half of the places that she took us but it was expensive I mean if you have
to weigh those those differences a lot of I wouldn’t want to go to a city and
have done no research at all and then not have a guide right even if that
research is reading historical fiction about the city you want to have some
sort of context because if you just jump out in a city and just say well I’m just
gonna walk around you’re gonna lose out on a lot
an architect I would take an architectural city a tour of New York
City me too I was yep I once had a friend told me the one thing you got to
remember to do in New York City is always look up because you never are far
enough away from the buildings to see it because it’s so near Elbe streets are so
narrow and the once in a while and remember that I’ll look up always see
something amazing and you know I did a great architectural tour of Chicago and
it was really fascinating and they did it from the water
I took a free tour of Chicago I think it’s called like Chicago greeters or
something like that and that was a phenomenal tour I’m totally into taking
tours like a three-hour tour yeah are we just gonna say mark cue that music oh
right but unlike the Gilligan’s Island tour usually they only last for three
hours and then you can go ahead and do stuff on your own or go back to some of
the places or maybe at the end when you do take a tour always ask the guide
that’s the best thing I do recommend that people be careful about how they
ask for restaurant recommendations because in many cases the person will
just send you to the kind of place that they always said all the other travelers
I I like to change the question up a little bit and say like where’s the last
place you took your family or sometimes I try to depending on the culture I’ll
sort of say look I want you to recommend me a restaurant with local food and a
local experience but if I see another tourist in that place I’m gonna come
back and I’m gonna have a word with you nice and I kind of joke around like that
so they know I’m kind of serious it’s a it’s like when you they say how spicy do
you want your food and if you really love spicy food you kind of have to say
look I’m not the average traveler you can serve it to me like you serve it to
the other people who live here and if you don’t sort of go out of your way to
be like look buddy then you’re just gonna get the normal experience so we
know that so many Americans don’t even take the allotted
vacation time that they get I mean first of all a bunch of them don’t get
vacation time so right you know you don’t country you know I know only a
developer yeah but does not have mandatory vacation time and the average
working employee gets about two weeks off but even that even if you get the
two weeks Americans don’t take their time why is that
what can we do to help the change I mean some of them will just say I don’t have
enough money to travel so what’s your answer right but you could take the time
off in your own City I think or drive to the nearest everyone
well not everybody but most people live within driving distance of some
interesting place whether that be you know a cool historical town in Texas or
or Minneapolis or you know Seattle or the National Park or something like that
of course you know you have to have a little bit of money to do it but not
taking your vacation it’s just it’s total insanity and depressing it’s
depressing it’s one of the things where you really think you’re that
indispensable at work that you don’t want to take any vacation something’s
wrong in your company or something’s wrong with you take the time during the
year to show someone else how to take over for you for two weeks and then and
then just go you don’t have to travel but you just take the time off and you
know read a book at least write relax you know most countries in these
countries are countries that worked out okay they they have 30 days of vacation
or 20 days of vacation and people really take them and guess what the whole place
doesn’t fall apart yeah let’s talk a little bit about how to prepare to go on
vacation in other words how do we disconnect because to have this
experience to say a guide for the globally curious if you want to be
globally curious you have to be present and checking your phone every 16 minutes
is not going to help you first of all I have a whole appendix in my book it’s
called travel mode I compare it with airplane mode like you in your airplane
you turn on airplane mode so you don’t interfere with you know or whatever
whatever below anybody’s eyes I believe in something called travel mode which
doesn’t exist but you can sort of enforce it upon yourself there’s certain
things you shouldn’t do when you’re traveling you should not be posting the
Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or whatever while you’re in a place
visiting a museum or visiting a sites or whatever you should wait until you get
back to your hotel if you’re gonna if you have to post wait until you get back
to your hotel so I’m in my imaginary world where travel mode exists it
actually has a GPS function it doesn’t let you post to social media unless
you’re in your hotel hmm that’s the sort of thing I would recommend because
just it’s distracting it’s a pain also I don’t know why people feel the need to
show where they are in real time whatever happened to like getting better
coming back home and telling a story about where you were oh I think that you
are showing your age sir throwback sir well I’m not saying that you should have
a slideshow and invite your neighbors over that’s horrifying sorry these or
something like that but you your friends do not need to know where you are at
that exact moment how about a little throwback Thursday a couple weeks later
that’s a modern thing yeah here’s where I was I have friends who take great
pictures when they travel I think of one guy in particular and you don’t ever see
where he is while he’s there but for a few months afterwards you can sure bet
that every Thursday or a couple of times a week gonna see a beautiful picture
which he chose and actually one of the computer and cropped it and made it into
something really beautiful and then showed it and of course sometimes people
comment like I can’t believe you’re in Ethiopia I’m here too let’s get together
I’m not in Ethiopia I was there like last August but that’s just as good if
not better and it does take you out of the moment
just to be thinking about what other people are thinking of you I don’t think
there’s any reason at all to be looking at text messages or emails or anything
tell the few people who might need to get in touch with you call me yeah I’ll
pick up a phone if I’m actually receiving a phone call if not I’m gonna
check it once a day right it’s probably not reasonable to ask people to leave
their phones in the hotel that used to be reasonable about 10 years ago now
people you need Google Maps in case get everything that’s okay
but maybe don’t get a data plan for being abroad so you have to go to a
restaurant and hook up to the Wi-Fi or something like right even that it’s
still hard to give a data plan in some places and it’s expensive but within
about five or ten years it’s not going to be the case you’re gonna have data
everywhere you go your phone is gonna work everywhere you go so don’t turn it
on go to go use Wi-Fi only you know it’s it’s you’ll always find a Wi-Fi place if
you really need to an emergency this is Jill on money we’ll get back to
our interview in just a second now if you’ve been listening to this show
you probably recognize that it’s me Jill Jill Schlesinger I’m also a certified
financial planner a CBS News business analyst and yes the host of this podcast
called Jill on money ok today I am here to tell you about our sponsor Marcus by
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direction you can money and now back to our
interview with travel writer Seth Google if someone’s listening right
now and they said haven’t booked my summer vacation what should they do to
get started is it just as simple as like where is it that you want to go or
should it be about price or I mean obviously there’s a budget involved if
they haven’t booked their summer vacation yet there and price is a factor
they’re not gonna want to think about where their dream destination is they
want to look around for good deals and there are tools on a lot of online
travel agencies as we call them kayak and Yeti and that kind of thing they can
see like where are the deals and you can Google how to how to find those and
it’ll say well for these particular dates or for this month these dates you
can get to Romania or turkey or you know whatever for cheaper
than usual right Phoenix is very good place to buy fantastic deal and I guess
another thing you can do is look at the average prices for specific dates on a
hotel booking site and so you can sort of see a boy if this places if you look
for New York over Christmas week or something like that you’re gonna see
really high prices but maybe if you looked in I don’t know in Chicago in
August you’ll see that there’s a week that there’s nothing going on and maybe
it’s a cheap time to go there and a great time to go to Chicago what’s your
opinion about using these online search is
because one travel person told me that nowadays you can look online but only
half of the inventory is available online so you’re actually better off
calling hotels is that right I don’t think that half of the inventory online
but there is a strange rule that says that no matter what site you go to the
hotel that at least the big chains they sort of say we’re the only way you get
listed on booking and Expedia in hotels calm is by having the same price
available on your own site as they do on hotels calm and they have to pay a
commission to hotels calm so if you call them and say are there any better places
some places especially small hotels will be like yeah we can give you a 10%
discount because you’re both making money you’re kind of the middleman but
they’re not allowed to put that online right because nobody’s super monitoring
that but yes so calling a place is a really good idea and asking what their
best rate is for this time the opposite though can also happen I’ve been on road
trips where I go and walk into a motel like an average Comfort Inn or whatever
it’s I need a place to sleep and I asked what the price is and they say well it’s
97 dollars a night and I’m like hold on a second and then I go onto one of the
apps and it’s like 53 dollars like I don’t you give me this rate because I’m
gonna pay 53 dollars a night to hotels calm and then hotel so causing the key
ten dollars you only gonna get 43 but they don’t they just can’t do it all
right so do you want to do both so good practice to do both hour only is just a
great idea in general because people don’t call anymore
especially small local hotels so my calling for a went like this
I know a year and a half ago go to Paris and we’re trying to book something and
online there was a price and I called the hotel and I left a message and say
could the manager call me back and the manager called me back and I said you
know I have some corporate deals at another hotel but I really want to come
to you and let me tell you the deals are freaking amazing that the corporate rate
gets you right and the guy sort of paused and he goes and he waited and he
was very Frenchie cuz so I guess you’re looking for me to drop my price
I said yes exactly unless you don’t want me to come to your hotel but the price
differential that he dropped by was it was
as awesome as I thought it was like 25% less than what is listed so I did it but
I have to say it was so happy there because when I arrived it wasn’t like
they’re like oh here comes the pain in the butt from New York they were so
happy it was delightful and I do love a small hotels service and they just like
one do everything for you I also get a sense when you call them you get a
better sense of it then then looking at a website right because if they’re very
friendly and they’re nice when they answer the phone and they pay attention
to you that’s chances are that’s the way
they’re gonna treat you yeah it was great okay shall we talk about the
elephant in the room which is flying and how much I hate it I’m fine the podcast
host don’t always fly first class I fly first in business because I’m almost six
feet tall but it is but it’s still ridiculous I mean the way that the
industry has now wedged us in in general I was it was it on the times where I
read an article about why business class why you cannot sleep in business class
seats because the way they have like engineered them is actually not the way
most people sleep which is they give you room at the head but not at the waist
you know I did write a column called the frugal traveler for five years so I’m
not used to business class time let me just say that’s why me a river okay I
get it but but just flying in general oh it’s it’s horrible I mean one there’s a
few things I would say about that first of all don’t fly multiple times in one
trip but don’t say I’m gonna go for three weeks to Europe I’m the first I’m
gonna go to Paris and I’m gonna go to Greece and I’m gonna go to you know
Berlin go to one place take the train after that if you need to get out
first of all flying multiple times in one trip is terrible environmentally
flying is a really is a climate change sort of AD Pauser
and so no one’s stopping traveling but if you could just take one flight each
way and then either take a bus or in a car or don’t go very far people trying
to fit in I had a friend who tried to take a trip doesn’t travel much get the
trip for two weeks to Spain in Morocco and tried to go to about six different
cities in two weeks which is just insane two days per city I mean I guess in
theory when you think about it it sounds ok but then imagine getting from one
place to another takes half a day to begin with you’re rushing around
personally the first four hours I’m in a strange city I I
don’t feel good anyway I feel like disoriented yeah so go to a place for a
longer period of time and that’ll save you and then you’ll just have to suck it
up and take the one the one trip frugal traveler I’ll go go back to your roots
tell me about all these ideas about when to book do you call this time the
flights and where you get good deals and calling 329 days in advance to get you
use your mileage or there’s all these seems like workarounds what what’s the
the best practice I think the best practice is to book as far in advance as
you can without going crazy about it obviously if you’re trying to book in
summer vacation or Spring Break or something like that you want to do it
earlier when they say you should book fifty three days in advance for
international flights that is an average that means that on average if you did
that a hundred times you would save an average of three dollars each time
there’s no not even close to an exact science there is a cool site called
hopper calm as if you really want to research it that would be a place to
research it like when’s the best month to travel here it is also certainly true
that there are high seasons and low seasons in different places but how many
days in advance the book or should you book on a Tuesday or something right
that was it right there was like 12:01 Tuesday morning that was a big thing for
a minute one of the big problems I think with travel today is people get obsessed
and spend so much time trying to you know we used to just go to a travel
agent and let them do it I loved that and travel agents still exist by the way
and they still work pretty well so if you’re the kind of person that loves to
obsess over setting your alarm so you can get up and check the flights at a
certain time of the middle of the night to get the best I mean sure if that’s
the kind of thing you’d like to do if that thing causes you dread then just
take it a little easier or get someone else to plan your trip for you what
about these tertiary airports worth checking out like sometimes you can get
screwed by doing that well you’re talking about like when you have a
really cheap flight but you end up an hour outside of Paris or first of all
you have to check what the transportation is from one place to the
other you know one of the ones in Paris I can’t remember the name of it it’s
like an hour outside of Paris hour and a half but there is a bus you
get right on the bus but it does cost you a certain amount of monies factory
of that factor the timing if you’re going to Paris for a month maybe that’s
worth it if you’re going to Paris for four days for the long weekend it’s
definitely not worth it I know it’s weird about that like just
in general like hey I wanted to go have the experience of doing the Chunnel once
okay yeah which was great one problem it’s expensive yeah I was I was shocked
it was cheaper on the next trip was cheaper because I happened to be in
London and it was cheaper to fly to Paris then take the tunnel and there you
go but then you have the cheap seats and you have the long trip in Airport and
trains now have turned into a luxury look I just recently went to
Philadelphia I could have taken the Amtrak from New York or I could have
taken the bolt bus and you know what Amtrak was like over $100 round-trip and
the bus was like $20 right wait a minute which one is environmentally better
taking public transportation is better either way so I’m not really sure
whether a train is probably better right but is it $50 better each I got you yeah
but driving would be the worst driving is that is the worst thing you can drive
flying and driving are sort of equally bad if you can take trains and buses how
about people who are nervous Nellie travelers and they’ll go on to a website
of the State Department and say like oh there’s a warning about this place
how seriously should we take those warnings well I wouldn’t go to Syria bad
place to go anyway so in other words where there was a war you don’t want to
travel there you don’t want to travel there although that said there are
countries where there is a war in part of the country and you can go to another
part of the country let’s just go back to to Colombia there are areas of
Colombia that are even though Colombia is really a far far safer place than it
was it’s got a great travel industry now there’s great places to visit there are
parts of the country you can’t go to and you might see a warning saying there’s
rebel activity in this region of Colombia well you can still go to Bogota
or you can still go to mid-eighteen or or go to the coffee plantations which
have great tourism these days somebody should do like a narco store of Colombia
oh if you think that doesn’t oh yeah oh dammit I mean you can take
cartel tours but just a couple more things so you do want to check the
travel warnings if it the travel warning says the whole country is cover it is
it’s being bombed on a day to day basis of course you don’t want to go do it but
just read them very carefully a lot of times if you delve deep it’ll have a
travel warning but then it’ll say that that’s only in three provinces or
something like that Turkey is a really good example of this
so Turkey has a border with Syria so of course you’re not gonna go to the Syrian
border but there are parts of Turkey most of Turkey that are still relatively
safe to go the other thing I do like to always tell people is to be careful of
what you’re scared of a lot of times people are scared of the wrong things
the way that most tourists and travelers die
this is an actual statistical fact from the American State Department the way
that the most US citizens die in other countries is through traffic accidents
so car crashes motorcycle crashes that sort of a thing so if you’re thinking
you don’t want to go to Paris because you’re worried about a terrorist attack
and instead you rent a moped or you mentis rent a scooter in the Caribbean
you’re making a bad decision yeah because you’re much more like you know
the second biggest cause of death wait wait let me see if I can get this food
poisoning I don’t know I guess no drowning drowning so if you got a shark
attack but just plain old drown no I’m in my wonderful shark attract pounces no
it’s the sort of thing where you’d go to a beach in an isolated area and there
might be a sign there that says danger but you still I asked rude I’m gonna go
in and there’s a Riptide and you get sort of swept out to sea and it’s a very
very common cause of death so again if you’re worried about terrorism so you
decide to get away from it all at an isolated beach but you still go swimming
without ask without a lifeguard you’re being irrational right and use your head
I mean obviously if they say don’t do this just don’t do it but even if you
just see a beach ask whether if there’s no one else in the water you want to ask
before you go it interesting so you travel extensively
to Latin America Central America obviously as well and and also Europe
are there places that you really are saying like I have got to do this for
The Times or for anywhere else because there’s like a passion that you have
that you haven’t done it yet well one of the problems with writing about travel
about places you haven’t been is that you don’t know that much about I’ve very
poorly traveled in Southeast Asia and it is a place I would love to go by the way
my aunt who lives in Australia when she first went to Southeast Asia had the
greatest remark ever it’s a long way to go for a palm tree it is something you
have to watch out for so so if you I think of us try went to Fiji once and
Fiji to us seems like this faraway exotic place in the South Pacific well
you get there and it’s all a bunch of drunk people from Australia it’s like
their Caribbean it’s not that there aren’t really nice places to visit in
Fiji but don’t think you’re gonna be in this isolated land full of wonders it’s
like going to the Dominican Republic is for us right it’s a quick hop from New
York it’s four hours and it’s a place where yeah you can go to wonderful
places there and it’s a great culture but a lot of people go just to get away
from it and get away for the weekend and that’s what you’re gonna find in places
like that so be sure you realize that even though matter how far away you go
there’s probably someone from nearby visiting like just for the weekend where
is it that you you’ve I know forgetting about you don’t have to be an expert
well I want to see it through your eyes probably the place that I most regret
not having been to at all don’t be shocked is India that’s the same with me
yeah let’s go sure next year I’m looking next year I think that I always I’ve
realized this I don’t know about India specifically but anytime I go to a big
country I’m always amazed at how many great places there are that nobody look
at the United States so when a tourist comes from abroad and goes to the United
States I’m gonna go to New York they want to go to New Orleans maybe they
want to go to Yellowstone think of all the other great places in the u.s. that
the average foreign travel has never heard of think of like the
South Charleston South Carolina or like people from abroad haven’t heard of
those places or or Texas like doing a road trip in Texas or something like
that well India is that kind of place it’s
it’s humongous there’s a ton a ton of ton of different cultures all over the
place it’s not whatever the images of India in my mind I know that that’s not
what it really is now mark who is a world traveler himself and a great
executive producer thinks that there is absolutely no way he’ll ever go to India
is that true mark that is true he says I am enamoured and slightly scared people
do find themselves overwhelmed by India it is not a place to go if you like to
be isolated I’m pretty sure if I went to India I’d stop by and Mumbai or
something for a couple days and then I would find some rural area to go to
that’s kind of like so one of the things I like to do is when I go into
TripAdvisor and say things to do in a place you like to go to like number 422
and because I know that that’s gonna be a sort of an interesting spot like oh or
or just to Google like 20 places in India you’ve never heard of and find one
of those and make that my first trip to India as opposed to going to the the hot
spots which are gonna be these huge cities with lots of great stuff I’m sure
but also tons of tourists massive crowds lots of discomfort at being a rich
person and a poor because you’re rich if you go to India and they’re how rich you
are here I very carefully curated my first India experience so it’s not
stereotypical intro let’s stay in touch I think we can make something happen
here I’ll do the first world part you do the third world part and then you’ll
help me and you’ll be in business class and I’ll be in coach yeah definitely to
India come on do you take drugs when you fly overnight or not I do what do you
take what’s ambien yeah it’s ambien it has a different name cuz it’s the
generic so yeah I think ambien I didn’t do it for decades and then I was like
well why am I not sleeping on a plane I’m just gonna take this drug yeah I
know if it works pretty well yeah you know I just got a chill and like so you
don’t want to wake up the next morning and be like oh my god I cannot function
for three days that’s bothered me sometime to miss like
breakfast or something I’m not that the food is terrible that is so funny ambien
hmm I never worry about that I just never rational I know and I
always bring snacks even wherever you’re sitting on the plane just bring snacks
well one thing I definitely do now that has really changed how enjoyable about
planes are is I was talking about missing breakfast but I purposefully
missed dinner so when you fly overnight if it’s an overnight flight you do not
want to eat dinner on that plane I won’t have like salad in the airport
even if I don’t bring anything myself I will go out of my way and pay extra
money to have a salad in an air in the airport before I get on the plane at a
reasonable hour rather than being served 11 p.m. heavy dinner horrible
Seth we started the program and I asked you your best financial or career
decision what’s your worst I think that sometimes I regret not having a
full-time job it is hard is both great and terrible to
be self-employed right I’m a freelance writer and there are times when I think
this is the greatest thing I could have ever done not just the work I get to do
but if I have a friend who’s in town for an afternoon on a Wednesday and I’m up
there I’m like yeah I’ll go meet you for lunch and I’ll walk around with you all
day and then I’ll do a little extra work on Saturday so that’s the great part but
the bad part is it is unstable and of course more and more people are having
this experience these days and I love what I do
but I don’t like looking ahead for five years and be like what am I going to be
doing in fact I don’t even know what I’m gonna be doing it three months you might
not even know what you’re doing in 50 minutes
yeah I think I’m gonna get a cup of coffee all right sounds good
you’re listening to Jill I’m money and now it’s time for our new feature it’s
called the Marcus minute presented by marcus by goldman sachs seth kugel
you’re in the hot seat today what’s one word to describe your relationship with
money fraught what’s always worth spending on food what’s the dumbest
thing you’ve spent money on a really bad sofa
what sound comes to mind when you get a paycheck oh my god the sound of me
closing the door to go out to spend it nice whose face would you put on the
dollar bill my mom because she taught me not to spend too much I love that it’s
your last day on earth and you’ve got a hundred bucks in your pocket what would
you do with it I’m gonna find a really good donut to shop and just stay there
all day and eat donuts Seth kugel the book is called
rediscovering travel a guide for the globally curious read his stuff in the
New York Times and elsewhere sure you have been a delight thank you so much
it’s been really fun to be here thanks thanks to our guests
Seth Google you can find him at Seth google.com or just google him he’s the
New York Times frugal traveler columnist we drop new episodes every Tuesday and
Thursday and sometimes a Friday bonus one as well if you would like to get
those podcasts quickly and efficiently all you have to do is subscribe to Jill
on money you can do that on Apple’s stitcher radio com Google Play anywhere
else you find your favorite podcast oh and leave us our a nice review right we
haven’t asked for that in a while mark so let’s do that
give us a nice review please that would be great our music is composed by Joel
Goodman mark toll air show is our executive producer and also new father
so please send all exciting greetings to him and any tips on sleep we’re
distributed by cadence 13 our show is presented by Marcus by Goldman Sachs see
you next week you you

One thought on “The Frugal Traveler

  1. Loved this content! My wife and I have a passion for travel. The plan we’ve implemented is to see as much as we can quickly while we are in our 30s. Staying 1-3 days in a city. Then in our 50s (when we are hopefully on bigger budgets) come back to the places we loved and stay a week to a month.

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