Welcome to the latest installment of the "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 Mary Jo from Traveling With MJ!
Mary Jo Manzanares is a blogger at Traveling with MJ, founder of The Travelers Way, and the Conference Director for TBEX. When she’s not on a trip, she’s planning or researching the next one, and has a bag always packed, ready for the next great adventure. Her travel ethos is Value Luxury – that sweet spot where experience and price intersect in a WOW experience. Follow her adventures at: http://www.travelingwithmj.com
1.) How do you save money in order to travel?
I work! Seriously, I juggle several jobs, all of which allow me to travel. My "day job" is as a flight attendant, so I travel every week to interesting places, usually Hawaii. It not only pays the bills, but it suits my lifestyle. I'm also the Conference Director for TBEX, so travel a fair amount with those responsibilities as well. And, of course, I have created several incomes streams as a result of my blog. It all comes together in ways that let me combine my passion for travel with the ability to afford it.
2.) Everyone needs to splurge now and then – describe a time when you blew your budget and it was worth every penny.
There have been many, many times, and I never regret it - probably because I've learned what splurges will provide me with endless enjoyment. Every trip to Italy I ship a case or more of wine home, always splurging on bottles of super Tuscan or Brunello that I can't get at home. I open a bottle a month, and every bottle not only complements a great meal, but also reminds me of the fabulous experience in a country I love to visit. Worth every penny!
3) There’s nothing like a bargain – name your favorite great steal of a deal?
Local produce, art, and handicrafts are usually a great buy. You can go splurge or go budget, but local products are always a great value. Batik cloth or clothing in Malaysia, silk in Thailand, leather in Italy, chocolates in Belgium, molas in Panama, wine in Italy. There are great values in all price ranges and I've found some great "steals" at the lower end of the budget.
4.) What tips do you have for a traveler to get the best value for their money?
Know what's important to you and then use that knowledge to make your travels more enriching. If you like art, then splurge on admissions to some of the great musuems around the world, saving a little by hitting up those discounted (or free) entry days. If wine is your passion, have a picnic for lunch, but splurge on a great bottle of wine to go with it. If adventure experiences call to you, splurge on what you want to do and save in areas that don't matter as much. Once you know what you value, it will be easy to decide where to find the value for your dollar. I tend to splurge on nicer hotels, wine, and spa treatments, while saving on simpler meals, using public transportation, and avoid the fees associated with adventure travel. It's about what's right for you.
5.) Time is valuable too – how do you make every moment count?
Know when to hit the ground running as well as when to sit and put your feet up. If you're always running, you'll miss the quiet moments of discovery. And if you're lazing away every day, you'll miss the joy of new discoveries. Find your balance and enjoy every moment of your travels and of your life.
If you enjoyed this interview, you'll also like:
Save, Splurge, Steal Interview: The Barefoot Nomads
Save, Splurge, Steal Interview: TreePot Travels
Save, Splurge, Steal Interview: Active Planet Travels