Welcome to the latest installment in our "Save, Splurge, Steal" interview series. Getting great value when I travel is always such a fun challenge for me and I love to learn how other people get the best possible experience for their available time and money. I'm asking top travel bloggers to share their expertise and I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I do!
Meet Erin from Travel With Bender!
In May 2012 Erin and her family rented their Australian house, packed 3 bags and took off to Bali with a then 2 and 3 year old in tow. They've been travelling ever since, that’s nearly 500 days! Their journey has taken them from the jungles of Bali to the beaches of Thailand through the cities of Malaysia and then a giant leap to the other side of the world where theytraversed the roads of the US, played in the cenotes of Mexico, discovered the ruins of Guatemala and walked the sacred grounds of Israel. And they're still going!
1.) How do you save money in order to travel?
I grew up saving. My Dad taught me the 10/10/80 rule. 10% to charity, 10% to savings, 80% to spending. So for me saving has always been apart of my life. If I can save more even better.
2.) Everyone needs to splurge now and then – describe a time when you blew your budget and it was worth every penny.
My husband is a huge basketball fan. His father was a basketball Olympian and he has played since very young. Recently we were in New York and a Knicks basketball game was going to cost over $500 for 2 of us to go. In comparison we would usually pay $40 - $100 in Australia! We decided you only live once and since we were a family of great basketball lovers we brought the tickets. New York Knicks verses San Antonio at Madison Square Gardens was unbelievable. Better then we could have imagined and an experience we never have regretted spending the money on.
Another splurge was during a very cheap cruise we scored for 4 nights in the Bahamas. A stop at Paradise Island presented us with an opportunity to visit the Atlantis waterpark. Two Adult tickets cost $250, that is absurd! The park was amazing, beautiful beaches, crazy waterslides and amazing scenery, but the best part that was worth every penny was the very special slide through a transparent tube with sharks swimming around. Wow!
3.) There’s nothing like a bargain – name your favourite great steal of a deal?
It all started when we had booked 3 weeks in Manila, Philippines. Granted, with the mass of population and the peak hour traffic running 24 hours non-stop, 3 weeks in Manila was too long. We needed to hit up a beach or island getaway. Watching my airfare emails I soon got Tiger Airways email advertising “1 peso flights to Boracay”. 1 peso equates to less than 2 Australian cents and Boracay was recently voted, on Tripadvisor.com’s 2012 Travellers Choice, as Top Beach in Asia & 2nd best beach in the world. We booked our tickets and headed to one of the most beautiful islands we have ever been to for just 2 cents. (On a side note: The return flight was not 2 cents, however $150 AUD later, including all taxes, for 4 people I was still stoked with the sale.)
4.) What tips do you have for a traveler to get the best value for their money?
Research. If you are looking for flights get the daily email from Skyscanner with your flight search prices and watch when the best and worst times are to buy. The more flexible you are the more you save. Like our Philippines flight deal for 2 cents we were willing to just go the next day. Similarly hotels also offer great deals if you are willing to go at different times to everyone else. I.e. not the long weekend. Haggle. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price, at hotels, at stores, at the markets. No is not scary and the yes is always worth it.
5.) Time is valuable too – how do you make every moment count?
Keep travelling West. That way you go back in time and get more hours in the day. Ha!
No, but really, for me we only make every moment count if we are rested and not worn out. Sleep well, eat well and make sure the kids have their naps. Then the moments that you really want to count, will count.
Follow Erin's latest adventures!
The Blog: www.travelwithbender.com
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