Convenience Money

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I am normally a pretty frugal person. Well about certain things. Sometimes I am not a frugal person, but then again I don’t have to be because I was frugal other times, so it balances out. Or so I like to think.

A few years ago, I planned the “trip of a lifetime”** or so I thought at the time. I researched and studied the travel blogs and bloggers, and figured out how to book a first class trip to Bali, Indonesia for 12 days for almost free.

So here I am going on this fantastic trip and I start being “cheap” about stuff. Not frugal, mind you, full on cheap. It was at that moment I decided I could give myself a pass and use something called Convenience Money.

Convenience Money is set aside amount of money that can be spent “guilt-free”. Convenience in the sense that there was probably a cheaper option, but this one just works better. Like paying for someone to get my Indonesian Visa and get by bags in Bali, yes I could have done it myself, but for $20 money well spent!

So rather then get upset about “over” paying, I just started assigning a value for convenience for each trip. Like when I order room service instead of going out to eat. Or when I decide to take a taxi instead of taking the train. Before this concept, I would stress about oh I could have saved $5, but now I just think hmmm this taxi ride was such a great idea!

So stop penny pinching and enjoy the trip. Setting a budget is important, so if you are hit with unexpected expenses, you can plan for it. And use common sense, convenience money is not meant to be stupid money. Still spend wisely, just don’t let the little things potential ruin your trip.
For the record, I had saved money doing some things cheaper on my Bali trip. Like opting not to take the nice hotel Mercedes from the Conrad Hong Kong, but instead opting for the free bus to the subway. Yes I honestly felt a little tacky rolling out of a hotel that cost $1,500/a night (I got it for free) and asking for the free bus. But if I had not taken the free bus, I would have not able to afford the room service hamburger. So it balanced out.

And of the $100 convenience money I had assigned for the trip, I came home with $40 and great memories!

**”Trip of lifetime” is no longer a phrase I use. Calling a trip “trip of a lifetime” puts unnecessary stress on it to be perfect. No trip is perfect. So I prefer “a trip in my lifetime”.

50 before 40

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I’ve given myself a travel challenge, to visit 50 countries before I turn 40. So while I am open to suggestions of where to go, it might be helpful to know where I’ve been.

While trying to compose the list of countries,  I had to learn what is considered a “country”.  The United Nations acknowledges 193 countries. The US State Department recognizes 195. Other sources site 196.  Given that it’s not possible to get a straight answer on what is considered an actual countries vs territory, I am a little unclear how many I’ve actually visited.

For the sake of my challenge, I am going with 196, in hopes that it put me that much closer to 50.

So here is my list, in alphabetical order.

1 Argentina
2 Australia
3 Austria
4 Belgium
5 Bosnia and Herzegovina
6 Canada
7 Chile
8 China
9 Croatia
10 Czech Republic
11 Dominican Republic
12 France
13 Germany
14 Haiti
15 India
16 Indonesia
17 Ireland
18 Italy
19 Jamaica
20 Japan
21 Kenya
22 Korea, North (If the DMZ tour counts)
23 Korea, South
24 Mexico
25 Montenegro
26 Netherlands
27 New Zealand
28 Panama
29 Singapore
30 South Africa
31 Spain
32 Switzerland
33 Tanzania
34 Thailand
35 Turkey
36 United Arab Emirates
37 United Kingdom
38 United States
39 Vatican City

I am looking forward to discovering 11 countries before I hit the big 40. I am even more intrigue, however, to discover what those 11 countries might be.

Driving in Europe

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I’ve traveled the world, 6 continents and 39 countries, but outside of Canada, I have not driven in other countries.  Given that I like to be prepared when I travel, I’ve been researching the rules of the roads for the countries that we will be driving through.  I’ve learned some interesting things.

*Do not pass on the right-Oh how I wish American drivers would follow this simple rule.

*The Autobahn does have speed limits- The autobahn is the highway in German. While parts have no speed limits, parts nears urbanized areas do. And it’s enforced.

*You can get a ticket for driving in flip flops- Yes, especially if you are in a accident, even if you did not cause the accident.

*France- too many rules to list-like you must have a safety jacket or vest, your vehicle must have a breathalyzer, if you get pulled over and if the driver has been drinking everyone in the car gets a ticket.

*If you wear glasses, you must have a spare pair in the car- like I need any excuse to purchase another pair of glasses.

It’s good be informed. I am still a little nervous about driving around the various countries, at least I will be prepared driving in the right lane, with my sneakers and orange vest……….



To Air or Not to Air, that is the question

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When researching hotels for my upcoming trip to Europe, I noticed that it cost more to get a room with air conditioning. So the frugal person I can be, thought for a minute, air or no air. What surprises me is that I even considered it! There are just certain necessities one needs when it’s warm. I could bend on location, room size and maybe even lack of room service, but I am not willing to suffer through no air conditioning.  I would rather travel less but travel well then travel more and be hot!