The Frugal Traveler

It’s been months and since my last post, we’ve traveled a bit more. A few weeks ago I bumped into a friend and after a bit of catching up, my friend was a bit amazed at how many places we’ve been and plan on going soon. I suppose, since I stay home, it seems like we’re spending more than hubby’s making, but we’re not.

Before we moved to England, the husband and I decided that traveling Europe will be one important thing that we do while we’re overseas. It’s something we both love to do and being here, the cost will be significantly cheaper (e.g. there’s a flight to Dublin, Ireland, for £40/pp round trip this Thanksgiving weekend). So every year I budget for at least two big trips (one whole week kind of trip) and a few little ones (usually in the island or to a nearby city across the channel).

I am very good at budgeting. If I get a lot of notice I can plan a week trip for around $1,000. I know on two of our trips we stayed at a cottage (a one story house) for £250/week. That’s about $400. Since we had a kitchen, I did a lot of cooking. We did breakfast everyday, ate out for lunches and I think one or two restaurants for dinner. We had a great time and went to a lot of places (which many were free since we have a membership to those sites).

On a day-to-day basis we’re pretty frugal and I am always budgeting. I can budget using a spreadsheet but I also like the You Need a Budget software/app. If you’re struggling to pay bills or have a lot of debts to pay off, YNAB is a fab app to help you figure out how much you can pay each month without eating ramen noodles everyday. Or, if you’re like me, and just want an app to budget and monitor spending, I think you’ll love YNAB. We don’t buy a lot of toys or clothes. We buy whatever clothes we need and I often shop second hand. The second hand shopping I do for two reasons, it’s cheaper and we’re reusing. If I have to buy new, I always buy on sale or from a discounted shop online, e.g. for shoes. I meal plan every week and have completely removed our Friday/weekend takeaways. On average, we spend around $100/week on food.

The little bit we save we put into our travel pot and this is how we’re able to travel more than a couple times a year. And if you’re still wondering whether or not we save, we do! We always max out our IRAs and have savings for us and the girls. I guess it helps that we have zero debt. I only use the credit card to maintain our credit score and we only have one nice car — and cars here are cheap compare to the US!

Last weekend was our latest frugal travel. We took advantage of M’s overnight competition at the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds and Yorkshire are two of my favorite areas to visit. There are so many pretty villages with an abundant amount of charm and teahouses. On this trip, we stayed at a military lodging for a whooping £10.25/night. This gave us a double wide, linen and a kitchen. Quite basic but we weren’t in there much and the lodge was about 20 minutes from M’s competition, Bath, and Castle Combe. After competition (she came 12th out of 83 girls) we wasted no time and off we went!

Of the handful of villages that we stopped at, one of my favorite was Castle Combe. Hundreds of years ago there used to be a castle but now, above the castle ruins is this beautiful village. Besides the few tourists that were there, the village was so peaceful and quaint. While there, a craft market was held, and lots of locals came in to look and to say hello to one another. It was nice to see while enjoying our 60p (about $1, tea and biscuit).

DSC_3585Before we left the hotel I didn’t really get a chance to read up on the history of this village. I was hoping to grab some literature whilst in the village but there was none. My phone also had zero service and so all we could do was look around until later on down the road when my phone received 3G service again. I didn’t know until later that there’s a very old clock inside the church. My friend said it’s one of the oldest clocks that still works. Bummer! If I knew, I’d have waited for the church service to end and have a peek. What I did know was that a few movies have been filmed here. The latest being War Horse.

DSC_3590The bridge, shown above, was built during Roman times. Isn’t it amazing that it’s still being used?

DSC_3591 And I just love the rooftops!

DSC_3594 Beautiful!! I can move here any day!

DSC_3597Once upon a time that house was a post office. Now it’s a home. I wish I could knock on each door and ask if we can take a look but ya know, that’s just rude 🙂

DSC_3599-copyAnd of course, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of baby girl.

castle_combeAnd M. Even though she didn’t look to happy. I think in her head she was thinking, “Oh no, where will this photo end up in? Facebook, the blog, a scrapbook page?” Ha!

DSC_3580-copy Last but not least, traveling, and photography, is a time to be a family. Even if you’re not too fond of each other at the moment.

Jovie: I want to take a picture with Emma
Emma: I don’t want to take a picture with Jovie. She’s always silly.
Jovie: I am NOT silly!!
Emma: Yes you are!
Jovie: Mommmyyyyyyy, Emma’s mean to me!! I want a photo with Emma (tears starting to come out)

*a bit of sidewalk drama and me butting in*

Me: Emma, just take a photo with Jovie. One photo. Come, we drove all the way here for your gym competition, you can at least take one photo (guilt tripping, ha ha!!)
Emma: Ok (huge sigh and pout)
Jovie: Yay!! (somehow tears disappeared)

*Jovie grabbing Emma’s hand, Emma refusing Jovie’s hand, a bit of bickering and ready*

Me: Emma, can you look a bit happy?
Emma: No!
Me: Ok, get ready! (snap)
Emma: See, she’s always silly!
Me: *shrug*

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