Friday, August 28, 2009

Blog Experiment: Publicly Accounting For Every Cent Of A Trip

Sherman Oaks, California

For years, I’ve been advocating inexpensive vacations to the Third World.

I’ve decided to finally take my own advice.

You don’t need to spend a lot on travel, I’ve blogged. Three principles will shave hundreds to thousands of dollars off the tab: Travel to offbeat locations, at times when the hordes are elsewhere, and avoid making reservations in Western brand hotels.

All of which are easier said than done. If you can only snag one week of vacation, you’re not flying all the way to southern Africa. If your significant other is set on visiting Paris in the summer, you’ll pay through the nose. It’s understandable that, after an 18-hour haul to Asia, you want to spend the first two nights in a comfortable Hyatt bed, which becomes three nights, which becomes . . . .

I’ve done it, too. I’ve stayed at a Sheraton when I should have been booked into a hostel, and I’ve eaten a $5 cheeseburger at a tourist tavern when 50¢ of empanadas from a street vendor would have hit the spot.

Lately, I’ve become stir crazy from staying in Los Angeles too long, so I knew it was time to travel again. Ishmael said it best at the beginning of Moby-Dick:

It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

But, this time, I will scrupulously follow my own rules. Cheap ticket. Cheap destination. Cheap lodgings.

Everything’s relative, of course. Cheap to me is selecting a $20 to $40 room with a private bath in a locally owned pension, rather than a $130 room at the Radisson. I’m too old and cranky to pay $5 a night to sleep on a bunk in a dorm with eleven copulating college kids.

So, looking at my schedule and realizing that I have to be back in Los Angeles by September 9th for work obligations, I decided to find the cheapest international flight I could to a relatively low-cost destination.

And I’m going to blog every cent I spend.

The discipline of publicly recording all expenditures will, hopefully, keep me focused on inexpensive alternatives. On the tourist trail, the overpriced choices are the easy choices. The Marriotts and Hard Rocks and Continentals of the world have the budgets to make sure you know they’re there. Rooting out the quirky and inexpensive and – yes, I’ll say it – authentic experiences takes some work. And I do my best work when I’ve made a promise to others that I don’t want to break.

Over the next two weeks, I will write about my trip and post every expenditure, putting my money where my blog is. Ideally, this exercise will hone my traveling skills, decrease my spending and open my mind to new experiences. Traveling on the cheap may become an exercise in the purest, most virtuous principle.

Besides, I’m short on cash from renovating my house and don’t have a choice.


Pictured: The Hard Rock Hotel Bali in Indonesia, where I will not be staying on this trip, not even close.

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Anonymous Swain said...

wait, "EVERY" cent?

1:26 AM  

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