Travelling-The World Is Your Oyster 1------------------Budget on a shoe string?
Travelling can be expensive. This will make it the preserve of the rich or financially able. It is for this reason many do not get to travel too far out of their part of the world. If we consider that we may never achieve all we want to get in life then making financial arrangements for travelling can be planned into the weekly budget and believe me it all adds up. As the saying goes those who are happy don't have the best of everything but make the best of what they have.
This is what we did when 28 of us travelled to St Lucia in December of 2008. Many in the party had never been to the Caribbean. Bookings were made 330 days before the trip as with many airlines, you can not really make bookings any earlier. What could have cost us £1,200.00 at Xmas time, ended up costing us roughly £600.00 including costs of the taxis to and from the airports.
I sent out a spreadsheet, with all the names in the party, every month. There were columns for the monthly contributions, balance and total contribution. In a way, I could have hidden all other names on the spread sheets and sent out just the accounts that applied to the receiver but it helped to see that others were paying up something, anything, each month, so the name and shame got people doing something about contributing to their forthcoming trip.
Furthermore we had a travel agent that would accept monthly payments for provisional bookings before they let us have the tickets a month before we travelled. This way we did not have to incur expenses too early on as you would on a credit card interests and bills when you pay up front for the tickets.
People in the travelling party became more focused about earning the outstanding money for the trip by taking on odd jobs etc. The monthly bill stood at £70.00 roughly under £20.00 a week, £4 a day. Participants cut back on frivolous spending to save the £4 each day wherever possible.
However, two months into our plan, we had a set back as the airline added on fuel charges (£30.00) to the costs, per ticket, every month, for two months even though we were not travelling for another 10months. Their angle was that they needed to stock up on fuel in advance and as the prices had increased so they were passing the increase in costs on to the customers. My angle was that the fuel prices could still come down. Why levy us now? Would they pay back the added taxes if or when the prices returned to normal?. Oh no, Jose!
By the second notification of increase in fuel charges added on to the fares, I could see this could go on for a few more months. Afterall they had us where they wanted. I decided to take on a credit card with a 0% interest though 3% charges would be made on the balance transfer. This was less than the total increment. The monthly contribution made by the party paid the card off long before it was due to be paid off. So that was the end of that.
On arriving we rented a nine bedroom house in Castries which cost each participant £50.00 per room per week. Yes £50.00 for the week. Okay it was self catering but food was cheap and readily available and restaurants were close by so one could go across for a meal.
Transportation was cheap-and for a major trip eg round the island, we hired a bus. If you added breathtaking sceneries and peculiarities of the island, the safety of the island, the easiness with which you could get things done on your own and the hospitality of the natives, then the experience was priceless.
Needless to say, everyone said it was one of the best holidays they had ever been on. The children had a whale of a time. Yes we are a strong bunch, still reminiscing and well bonded. I only wished more family and friends were there. Maybe next time! Be still my wandering lust.
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