Gifts from a grandma

family, musings

Some of you may know, and some may not, my grandmother recently passed away.


My grandmother and I, about age 2. 1993

It is a deep and painful experience, not only because I lost someone close to me, but because I lost someone that helped raise me, shared my childhood home, was always one of my heroes and taught me many of the skills and values I hold dear to me.

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Resources

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Parts I, II, III

Based on my travels to Europe, and planning other trips these are my favorite websites/organizations. Many of these are good to look at to help decide on budget and time you are wanting to spend places.

General: Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak

Airfare: Kayak, Cheap Flights, Frontier, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Easy Jet

Sleeping: Air BNB,, Kayak, Hostel Bookers

City Passes: London, Paris, Berlin

Regional Passes: Historic Scotland, English Heritage

Train: Eurail, Britrail

Happy Travels!

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part III

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Read Part I and II

BREAK DOWN- 1 month travel- budgeting for Europe

$40- travel guides (or FREE with apps, but I always suggest books unless you know an area)

$1000-$2000 plane tickets, depending on how much you’re moving around and where you’re going

$500- extra travel- buses, trains, metro etc.

$500- entrance fees/travel passes

$200- souvenirs (more if you want jewelry/more expensive items)

$1000- sleeping arrangements ($30/night) (more if you hotel alone, less if you can split rooms/stay with friends)

$500- food and drink

$500- emergency/misc. (Bring an emergency credit card)


around $4200

The good news is that you can spend more or less  on what you personally like to do. I’ve done trips for $6000 for 2.5 months and only $3000 for a month. Also consider traveling in the off season to get better deals and save money. Keep in mind looking for large tours that can be very affordable ($900/9 days). Comment with questions.


How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part II

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

Read Part I Here.

3. Decided where you’re willing to stay.

  • Or better, decide how you can stay.
  • Hostels are great if you don’t mind sharing a room with numerous people, which can be noisy, hot, uncomfortable and busy. The best reason is that you have a kitchen to cook meals. Sometimes hostels have private rooms or smaller women’s dorms that help with the chaos.
  • If hostels are too much chaos:
    • look into less expensive B&Bs
    • Discount hotels like IBIS are very affordable, sometimes as low as $70/night for two people.
    • Look for air BNB options, which is also a great way to make friends.
    • Also, look for small apartments so you can cook and get a more local feel.
  • In Asia it is often best to stay in hotels.

4. What do you want to do?

  • Read about all the things to do where you are traveling and narrow it down. Then add up entrance fees, bus/travel fares etc. and get an idea on how much it will cost to go somewhere.
  • To SAVE: look into city passes that offer transport with it. Such as the London and Paris Pass
    • If you don’t want to see a lot of touristy things, you might avoid this.
  • Decide what you can’t go home without seeing, and rearrange your budget for that.

5. Challenge your budget

  • Figure out how much you want to spend a day and try to stay in that, say $100/day is your budget. If you spend $50 on a hotel/hostel, $20 on food and $30 on adventure you will be at your budget. I’ve tried to stay at $50-75 on many trips and have been successful.

6. Food and where to save

    • they will know the best food for the best price, this is especially true in Italy.
    • Look for “meal deals” at mom and pop restaurants and pubs.
      • In Italy there was a dinner deal for 14 euros, which included wine, water and three courses of AMAZING food!
        • They were right by my apartment too
    • shop local markets
      • the best place for the freshest food!
    • Look for local bakeries for breads and sweets
      • they’re often VERY affordable if not dirt cheap and delicious
  • With allergies
    • ask around about this too
    • As the world becomes smaller and more aware many places advertise gluten free products.
    • LEARN what words indicate “gluten free” etc. and then go to the grocery store to stock up on snacks
      • this will save you the most money
    • Ask around about gluten free bakeries

7. Souvenirs

  • Street market
    • good deals, a chance to barter and less money spent on good quality items.
  • Museums
    • support the preservation and work of historical societies that keep up castles and artifacts by shopping in their gift shops. They also charge less, and do much more with the money.
  • Shops
    • if you have time, price compare, and try to barter (totally acceptable in most places)
    • Many times they have some better quality goods, but not always
  • Ask Locals
    • ask around about quality, where goods come from, and what is a waste of money or not. Locals usually have something to say about it.

8. Drinking/Partying

  • Save by only buying one or two drinks and avoiding places with cover fees.

Part III

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part I

Travel, United Kingdom, United States

It’s a common misconception that traveling is far too expensive for the average person.

Which it can be.

But it doesn’t have to be.

True Story Bro.

In total I have taken three trips to Europe, and have only spent a total of $12,000- which you may say “holy shit” that’s still a lot of money. Let it be known that’s 6 months worth of travel. In Europe. In some of the most expensive countries and cities in the world.

So here is how to do it.

1. Figure out where you want to go.

  • Depending on the location, your airfare will vary from around $300-2,000, once you know how much it takes to get there, then you can figure out how long you should stay and how much more you can afford.
  • If you’re going to Europe, consider flying to Iceland, Ireland, or England. Usually flights are cheaper and you can get a connecting flight to the rest of Europe from the airport you hit first. This usually can save you a few hundred dollars if not close to $1,000
  • Research time difference and ask around about jet lag. Many times it takes about a week to adjust to time difference, so keep this in mind. If lack or change in sleep doesn’t bother you much, then just decide how long you can/want to go.
    • I suggest at least a month in Europe, and a week or two if you are staying in the Americas.
  • Think of your bucket list and decide what you want to do the most. For me it was the British Isles, followed by France, Germany and Italy. I’ve done all of them at one time or another. Next up: Asia
  • Consider if you need a travel buddy.
    • In Europe I’ve never needed a travel buddy, but I have had some family travel with me. I’ve also had friends and family to check in. This makes the trip less lonely. But it also isn’t necessary, do some research on staying safe, cultural norms, and how to avoid trouble. Even email and/or try to talk to police officers in other countries to get an idea of how to behave. It made a big difference for me in Germany and Italy.
    • If you are going to Latin America: do your research, especially if you are female, on where to go or not. Ask a lot of questions. Most guidebooks offer tips for solo women travelers.
    • Asia, Africa etc.: Women alone can travel in Asia, but many cultures see solo women travelers in a negative light. If you can travel with at least one man, it helps a lot from what I understand. The good news is that much of Asia is still inexpensive to travel in, and you can save money even with two people.
  • Ask yourself what you want from a trip.
    • Parties?
    • History?
    • Art?
    • Food?
    • Culture?
    • All of the above?

2. What is a realistic amount to save?

  • Look and add up what you think you can afford.
    • If it’s less than $2000 try to go somewhere closer to home such as Latin America
      • some resorts are only about $1000/week
    • If you can raise $3000-6000
      • Consider that transatlantic adventure to Europe or Asia

Part II