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The BF and I are in the midst of planning a road trip through Montana/Wyoming. More specifically, we’re headed to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park for hiking, nature-filled fun! We’ll be flying into the smaller Bozeman airport, as opposed to Billings. I’m super excited! The BF and I are really great road trippers. Road trips usually mean that we’ll detach ourselves from our phones (no service anyway) and our laptops (even now, we’re both sitting in front of separate laptops).  There’s going to be a lot of long drives ahead of us and we like to travel on a budget when we do road trips. So, today, I headed to my local public library and picked up some free travel resources!

Budget Tips for the Road Trip:

Audio Books: I’ve been on long drives where the scan button on the radio seems to loop and loop over and over before it hits a station that I absolutely can’t listen to anyway. Static is no fun. So, I picked up 3 audio books at the local library. I’ve heard this was a great source of entertainment on road trips so I’ll be trying it out. I love the classics. Don’t judge.

Guide Books: I actually didn’t even know public libraries had guide books until I saw a student who was working on a project with 3 Hawaii guidebooks. Luckily, I found a lot of great books on Montana and Wyoming. I picked up a copy of Lonely Planet: Yellowstone & Grand Teton and Frommer’s: Montana & Wyoming. Frommer’s is an older edition, but I figured that the information on the national parks couldn’t have changed much from year to year. After all, the mountains don’t move, right?

The cost of it all? NADA. NOTHING. ZILCH. ZIP. ZERO. Assuming that I’ll return it on time, I’ll have all of this stuff for 21 days!

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utah phone

After a 4 day road trip through the beautiful and colorful state of Utah, I’m back! Our trip went something like this: drive 6 hours, attempt sleeping in a teepee only to realize it’s warmer to sleep in a car, hike through muddy hoodoos, hike a mountain, drive through natural “monuments” at sunset, star-gazing in pitch black darkness, trek through red rock canyons and pass out from exhaustion.  For four days, we did a TON and it was incredibly cheap! We went into this trip knowing that we were going to be as cheap as humanly possible, but we still had a really great time! This is a highly recommended trip for families, active groups, and couples who are looking for a budget trip.

utah trip

Ways to Stay Within Your Budgets:

1. Car Rentals: Everyday, I put a bid on a car on Priceline.com. Since you can only submit one bid per day (w/o changing anything), I started at $8 and worked my way up. Truthfully, I couldn’t get a super ridiculously cheap deal, so I ended up with Hotwire.com. My rental car was still only $15 per day! After taxes, it came up to be around $22. Not bad!

2. Food- Meals at the grocery store: Honestly, we didn’t have very high expectations for great food on this trip. Perhaps if we were in Salt Lake City it would’ve been different, but since we knew we would be on the road most of the time we went to the grocery store a lot. We ate a lot of beef jerkey, deli sliced turkey, baguettes, tomates, bananas, and water. Our best meal was at a Denny’s at the Arizona/Nevada border! Consider your destination and you can probably save some money going to the grocery store.

3. National Parks and Federal Recreation Land Pass– otherwise known as an annual pass for all the national parks in the US. It’s only $80 and it covers the cost of one car entry fee. I almost broke even and I’m pretty sure I”ll be hitting a few more national parks in the next few months! It was a no-brainer for me. $10 for Seniors.

4. Request an economy car: Enterprise tried to hand me off an SUV despite the fact that I requested an economy car when I made the reservation. I insisted that they honor the reservation and waited for a economy car. After 2 hours, I decided to ask them to throw in some sort of freebie for the inconvenience. Initially, the rep refused and I had made up my mind to call corporate to file a complaint. However, he came around and threw in half a tank of gas for free. Lesson of the story? Don’t be scared to ask.  We saved $20 for the half tank of gas and $100+ for the extra gas we would have paid if we accepted the SUV.

Locations: Bryce National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Natural Bridges

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Apologies for the lack of posts lately. The times… they are tough. I haven’t been able to do too many trips lately since I’ve needed to save some money in case… you know… the economy crashes. But you know, that’s crazy talk, right?

Anyhow, as much as I tried to curtail the traveling, I couldn’t! This past week, my good friend from San Francisco decided to celebrate her birthday in NYC for a week… and so did I!!!!

Although, I made a very conscious attempt to do more budget activities and still enjoy my time out in NYC. SO… here goes! BUDGET NEW YORK CITY!

First up! Budget Broadway!

wicked(image source)

My friend and I really wanted to watch a show, but since 50% off tickets at TKTS would still set me back $60+ I couldn’t do it. So we decided to take our chances with the Lottery. The Lottery varies from show to show, but basically, you show up a few hours before the show, put your name into a bin, and hope they call your name half an hour later. If they do call your name, you get a front row (YES, FRONT ROW) discounted ticket for $20-$30.

As a result, we saw Avenue Q front row center for $21.50 and Wicked front row for $26.50. Yes. Envy me.

ave-q(image source)

Tips for winning the lottery tickets or rush tickets:

1. Be on time: You only have 30 minutes to put your name into the bin. So make sure you get there to hear them call out the names. No brainer, right? Apparently there ARE some people with no brains out there. Check the show’s website to see what time they draw names.

2. Bring your ID: No kidding. When I went, Wicked pulled 13 people names from the lotto bin and one person didn’t have his ID. Even with his credit card, he wasn’t allowed to buy his winning tickets. FORTUNATELY FOR ME, my name was the next one drawn for in his replacement! Sucka.

3. Cash only

4. Texture: I really hate to give this one away, but at Ave Q, my friend crumpled up her paper so that it would have more texture for the person to draw it. So simple, right? Right. Her name was the first one drawn.

610x(Speed the Plow: image source)

5. Student ID: Some shows actually don’t do lotteries. They only do student rush tickets. Which means students w/ school IDs can show up the day of the show and try to get tickets for under $30. Unfortunately for me, since I’m old as fart, I couldn’t watch August: Osage County , Equus, and Speed the Plow with a student discount. All plays that I really wanted to watch. Next time maybe!

6. Low Periods: A Broadway veteran that was running Wicked’s lottery told us that the best time to get tickets is the time between New Years and Valentines Day. No wonder, t’s colder than a snow cone in Antarctica then.

Additional Resources and Reading

Everyone’s a little bit racist- Hypen

Avenue Q Lottery Ticket Information

Wicked FAQ — Ticket Tips

Mama Doesn’t Feel Well, but Everyone Else Will Feel Much Worse — NYTimes Review of August: Osage County

Do you speak Hollywood? — NYTimes Review of Speed the Plow

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Since The BF and I LOVE to travel, we’ve been really worried about how much the bad economy is going to impact our travel. Just this year, we’ve been to San Francisco, Costa Rica, New York, Los Angeles, Taiwan, Yosemite, San Diego, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Niagara Falls, western Virginia, New Orleans, and we have upcoming trips to Hong Kong, Macau, and Vietnam at the end of the year! Needless to say, we’ve decided to figure out more cost effective ways to save money while traveling.

So I’m starting a series called Wandering Cheap. Really, it’s more of a public challenge for me to make sure we’re being as cost efficient as possible!

A budget weekend in Philadelphia, PA for two:

1. Day 1: $67

Liberty Bell/ Franklin Square = $0:

We definitely had to see both these historical sites! Luckily for us, it was free! Apparently, all those years of paying taxes has come in handy.

Shopping at South Street = $0:

Since we arrived in Philly in the afternoon, we decided to roam the streets a little. A great place to window shop and people watch, South Street is full of energy and entertainment! Read here.

Dinner for 2 at Dmitri’s = $47 including tip:

After, we headed to Dmitri’s, a tiny Greek seafood place, with the. Most. Amazing. Scallops. Ever. r. r. r. r. The portions are huge there, so the two of us, shared one entree (Grilled Scallops), and a side of grilled veggies and another side of grilled octopus. No drink, just water. It was a perfect amount of food for us and we didn’t have leftover traveler’s guilt (you know, when you’re traveling and you have tons of leftovers but can’t take it home).

Drinks/ Dessert at Dolce = $20:

Actually, we both regretted getting this afterwards. The dessert was terrible at Dolce (microwaving, seriously?) and the drink was just… eh. We decided there that we were going to stop ordering drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic) and desserts at restaurants. Live and learn.

2. Day 2: $22

Philly Cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks =$8:

I actually did a LOT of research on Yelp to see which sandwich place had the best cheesesteak. Even though the Travel Channel covered Geno’s and Pat’s, the reviews were so bad for both the places that I really didn’t want to waste that money or stomach space. So, I narrowed it down to Tony Luke’s and John’s Roast Pork. Only to realize that neither of those places opened on the weekends! Go me.  So, which exploring South Street, we saw a MASSIVE line at Jim’s Steaks and decided that that must be the place. We opted to share one sandwich (which was definitely enough to share) and we cried cheesey goodness afterwards.

Two scoops of ice cream at Bassett’s Ice Cream = $4:

Afterwards, we headed to Reading Terminal Market. Originally, I hoped to eat at some of the food vendors here, but my gluttenous belly was already resting on my knees. SO, I opted for 2 scoops of moosetracks ice cream at Bassett’s. Diet? What diet. Again, The BF and I shared.

Mutter’s Museum =$10 each/ $20 for two:

This is the coolest museum IN THE COUNTRY. Believe me, I’ve been to a lot of museums and I think this is the one museum where every other sentence that came out of my mouth started with “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”. A physicians’ museum, or a macabre museum, this small museum has a collection of old equipment used by early doctors, jars of “parts” from patients, and more “parts” of the weirdest stuff that can possibly happen medically to patients. Dried intestines from a man who was constipated for 20 years of his life and died with 40 lbs of poo in his body? Check. Skeleton of conjoined twins sharing ONE head w/ 2 bodies? Check. Dried up lady in a glass box? Check. Lady with horns growing out of her whole body? Check. I don’t have any pictures from inside the museum, since it’s not allowed, but I have more than enough memories to ensure that I’ll be taking my multi-vitamin everyday til I die. YOU MUST GO.

Walking down Ben Franklin Parkway = $0:

There are tons of museums down this parkway! But we really just wanted to enjoy the beautiful fall day and run up Rocky’s Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We attempted to check out and exhibit at The Franklin Institute of Science, which was a beautiful building, but opted out after finding out that it cost $22 per person (Seriously?). However, it is free to walk through the atrium and see a large statue of ole’ Ben chilling in marble. Definitely worth checking out.

Searching for Murals = $0:

With over 2,800 murals, Philadelphia is FULL of beautiful wall and street art and definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

By this time, we had to head home, but our grand total for two days excluding gas, car rental, and hotel was $99! Not too bad for two people! I learned a lot from this experiment and I’ll definitely be much more frugal next time (re: no more alcohol and desserts =P)

Recap:

Day 1: Liberty Bell/Franklin Square = $0, Window shopping = $0, Dinner at Dmitri’s = $47, Drinks at Dolce = $20

Day 2: Philly Cheesesteak at Jim’s Steaks = $8, Bassett’s Ice Cream = $4, Mutter’s Museum = $20 for two people, Walking down Ben Franklin Parkway = $0

Total: $99 for two people, $49.50 per person.

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travel news

This is something new we’re going to try here at Wanderus. Every few days, we’ll post a quick summary of travel news from different sources and links to the original article. It’s a good way to get the latest information on a few topics/locations in one place. Here’s the recent news for today:

The New York Times spent 36 hours in Luang Prabang, Laos, and it seems like that is “the next potential hot spots for globe-trotting tourists.

Cnn has a special report series on traveling tactics for the road warrior. The series takes on many topics from jobs that let you see the world to TSA testing new security speed options. Read more here.

Travel + Leisure shows us their picks for the world’s best awards for 2007. Among them are world’s most amazing airport lounges and top 100 hotels.

The World Hum Blog links to an article in the LA Times about how bad the violence has gotten in Mexico. Apparently, a lot of American tourists have been attacked recently in Mexico and if you’re planning a trip there, you should probably read this first.

Budget Travel tells us that winter is the new summer in Europe. This is obviously because summer in Europe has gotten really expensive in the last few years.

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