Spend Less…Travel More

A Day of Sightseeing, No Spending. Floating Market, Bangkok
The Beautiful Sourire Lobby, Bangkok
Eat Local! Nasi Lemak for .25 cents. Trust me, a delicious, satisfying meal.
Penang to Bangkok. 21 hours. $16 each for sleeper cars.
Our room at the Merchant Hotel, Penang.
Finishing up a full breakfast at Sourire Hotel, Bangkok.
This shuttle bus was free and took us all over Penang!
Memories are Priceless!
Tuk Tuks are fun but know where you want to go!

This could be the BOLT motto.  We are on a very tight budget and are learning to live and travel within our means.  No credit card debt, mindful choices and lots of research are key. Our type of travel is not for everyone. If you are intrigued by fearless, serendipitous and penniless adventure, here are some helpful tips :

♡ Stay in small, non-chain hotels. Booking.com is great for finding affordable accommodations.  Know what you want and carefully read details and reviews.  We want private rooms and private bathrooms and are willing to pay for them. You can find hostel type situations for much less. We are just not comfortable with sharing sleeping space or bathrooms,  at least not yet.
The most we have paid this trip is  $70 a night for our hotel in Singapore, the most expensive city in the world.  Our average is $35 a night for beautiful rooms in central locations, with breakfast included. Lesson learned : check for elevators! In Singapore we had to carry all our luggage up 5 flights of steep stairs!

♡ Use public transportation.  Our BOLT rule is “taxis only if we have luggage”. Otherwise we have had wonderful experiences using local buses, trains and tuk tuks.  We also walk as much as possible.

♡ Eat with the locals. Some of the best meals we have had are from street vendors and small food stalls. We’ve paid 3-4 times as much for the same meal at the more touristy spots. We take daily probiotics to protect our tummies. 
Getting hotels that include breakfast is another great way to save.  We have started the practice of a nice, big breakfast;  a substantial lunch out; and a small dinner  (fruit, nuts, yogurt) in our room. So far, so good!

♡ Buy a Steri-pen and sturdy water bottles.  Traveling in Southeast Asia is thirsty work.  Disposable bottles of water are expensive and harm the environment.  Our $70 purchase of a state of the art Steri-pen allows us to sterilize tap water. We store the bottles in our hotel room fridge and are set for the day.  Avoid sodas, alcohol and other beverages if you really want to save.
http://www.steripen.com › ultra

♡ Buy less. Do you really need another sarong, handbag, or necklace?  Does  Auntie really need that souvenir  keychain, coin purse or ashtray? If you know me then you know I love to shop. The suggestion here is to shop less not to never shop. I am learning to look at the fabulous batik skirt I want and ask myself would I prefer the skirt or another night of travel or museum visit.  It also helps to shop away from the tourist areas. We saw the same $10 floating market skirt for $3 in Bangkok central.  I am also learning that the first price stated is far from the price you can end up paying.  Be willing to haggle. It’s fun!

♡ Watch out for scams! We learned this lesson a little too late. We experienced this common Bangkok scam.  While walking  to a well lit temple, we were stopped by a very friendly Thai gentlemen who told us that the temple had closed for the night.  But “It was our lucky day!” he informed us. We were told that because it was a  holiday we could get a special government Tuk Tuk for only 40 Baht.  This tuk tuk we were told would take us anywhere we wanted to go. Having earlier paid 100 Baht for a taxi we thought this a great deal and jumped into the ‘special’ tuk tuk he summoned.  In reality the temple we wanted was not closed, there was no special tuk tuk deal and we spent the day be taken to places we had no desire to see (gem stores, suit makers). Turns out this is the most common of Bangkok scams. We didn’t figure it out until 2 days later when the same scam was attempted on our way to the National Museum.  This time we knew the museum was open and we figured out the scam. I have to say it was a very gentle scam and the tuk tuk driver was very nice.  But a little research would have saved us!

Well, that is all for now.  Hope you found something helpful. We are off for our last day in Bangkok.  And NO, the Grand Palace is not closed.

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