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When we travel, we’ll rarely pay for 3 meals per day. We do our best to stay places with a kitchen and/or leverage the breakfasts offered by the hotel.
Time to bring about my extreme frugality. I often wait for a business trip or some kind of professional event that is largely paid for by someone else. Of course, I play by all the rules and don’t bend them either. Often, I’ll take a “third leg” after the business function to enjoy a few days of R&R. I also use hotel points earned on business. I’d also rather spend a couple of days with family rather than hotels–then treat them to a nice meal or send them a gift card afterward.
Too cheapskate of me? Borderline. I see it kind of like a game to minimize costs while still enjoying myself and being around loved ones.
I’ve used Costco Travel extensively for some of our vacations. I’m never disappointed with the price, quality, and the extra add-ons. The customer service has also been great. We also try to use public transport and small restaurants in the destination cities. This adds to the experience and saves quite a bit of money.
For some other destinations, I did most of the planning and research myself – something I enjoy doing. Travel guides like Lonely Planet usually have contacts for local tour operators. I’ve had good luck in contacting them directly and arranging guided tours with them. The customized, private tours are often more enjoyable and flexible, and less expensive compared to big tour companies. Our trips to Egypt, Thailand, Costa Rica, etc., were surprisingly affordable and safe by using local operators directly.