For the first twenty-three years of my life, I knew very little beyond the confines of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ours was not a well-traveled family.
Every few years my parents, brother, and I would travel to Wooster, Ohio to visit friends of my mother. On a more regular basis, our family traveled to New Jersey to visit my father’s relatives. On our trips to New Jersey, we’d often pass through Delaware.
My older brothers took me to Syracuse, New York and Morgantown, West Virginia to watch the Pitt Panthers play football. Other than that, the only other state I visited in my youth was Maryland.
That all changed after I reached adulthood. Since the age of 24 (when I went to work for IBM), I’ve traveled to all fifty states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. While some of those travels were paid for by IBM, most of them were on my own.
I’ve also been to four Canadian provinces, two Latin-American countries, and six European nations. (Two of those European nations were at IBM’s expense.)
At the age of sixty-seven, I realize there is much more of this earth to see and I am diligently working to do so.
Over the last ten or twelve years my bride and I have been most fortunate in being able to travel both here and abroad. Those trips have provided many opportunities for us to learn better (interpret that as “cheaper”) ways of traveling. In some cases, we are deeply indebted to travel agents. In other cases, our gratitude is aimed at the Internet, TV travel shows, and various magazine articles.
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A number of people have suggested I take the time to write down what we’ve learned so that others might profit from our experiences. My initial thought was to aim such a document at senior citizens who need to get all their travels in while they’re still young enough to do so. For many senior citizens on fixed incomes, being able to do anything as inexpensively as possible is almost mandatory.
The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that my advice would be valid for anyone who wants to see the world in the cheapest ways possible. Cheapest should not be interpreted as staying in flea bag hotels and eating all of one’s meals at greasy spoons. I simply want to demonstrate that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a most enjoyable trip.
So, while my basic emphasis is directed toward older folks, younger people should take note, and take trips in “economy style”. In so doing, the younger set can take their children along for the ride. Travel is one of the best educational tools available… regardless of the age of the traveler. Senior citizens might also consider taking grandchildren along for the same reasons. Of course, many young parents might prefer to leave their children with their grandparents so they can enjoy more adult adventures. If those grandparents are anything like my bride and I, they’d welcome having the little ones around for a week or so… but no longer. We want to hit the road too!
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As you read through this material you’ll find that each section contains my “formula” – the steps I use to find and improve on good deals. I also try to include some personal experiences so you can see the results that are possible from using the formula. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same outcome, but I’d hope you’ll be able to save some money. Bad experiences are easier to cope with if they didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Before moving on to the “meat” of this subject, let me say that I’ve heard of modes of travel that are cheaper than the ones I discuss. Since I’ve never taken a cargo ship cruise, nor stayed in a youth hostel, I cannot speak from experience on those things. While the youth hostel doesn’t interest me in the least, taking a “cruise” on a cargo vessel might be very entertaining, but I doubt they’d have a social director to keep things lively. To me, it would have to be a real bargain!
A quick search of the Internet provided me with three links:
There were a number of others, but the information I gleaned from these reinforced my belief about the lack of a social director. I also learned that a cruise on a freighter is not the great deal I thought it would be.
According to Freighter World Cruises, Inc., there are no buffet meals, no swimming pools, and no evening entertainment, which isn’t at all surprising. What is surprising is the fact that these “cruises” cost between $90 and $130 per person per day. The cruises my bride and I have taken were much less expensive and included all the bells and whistles. So, aside from the “adventure” of traveling with a group of professional seamen, you’d be better off on a ship filled with everyday people rather than cargo containers.
Of course, you could always sign on as a deck hand and get paid for the cruise, but that might not qualify as a vacation.
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A final note of introduction: Much of the information discussed in these pages revolves around the use of a computer and the Internet. Without a doubt, the World Wide Web is your best source of travel information – from airlines, hotels, and travel agents to the weather you can expect at your destination. You can buy a computer for less than $300 and hook it up to a high-speed Internet connection for about $50 per month. If those costs are prohibitive, use the computer at your local library.
Please keep in mind that you’ll see references to many web sites in every chapter of this book. The ones I name are in no way meant to be seen as all-inclusive. New travel sites come to life almost daily. There’s no way I could hope to list them all. In fact, by the time you read this, some of the sites I mention may be gone; that’s the way the web works.
Use the web sites I list as a starting point. Use the available search engines to find more. The only caveat is the “Buyer Beware!” that not all web sites are as they seem. Never provide any personal information – bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or anything else that could enable someone to steal your money or your identity. Unless you have thoroughly checked a company’s credentials, don’t even think about giving them more than your name and email address. Even when you know you’re dealing with a reputable outfit, always deal with your credit card. NEVER provide your bank account information or use a debit card on a travel related web site.
What you just read was the introduction of a book I’m making available on Amazon – to download to your Kindle – and eventually to Barnes & Noble for the Nook owners.
I explain how you can save hundreds of dollars and enjoy wonderful vacations simply by taking the time to find the deals.
If you’re interested, let me know – and tell me what such advice would be worth to you. $25.00? $10.00? How about $2.99?