Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Money is always a big issue when it comes to travel. Whether it prevents you from your trip before it even starts or limits what you can do on your voyage, finance inevitably becomes a factor when you travel. It’s an unavoidable part of taking your dream adventure. Because it is such an issue, here are some tips that I’ve compiled on how to save some money while backpacking:

 

  1. Shop at Grocery Stores: If you stay in hostels, cook in hostels with cheap food from the grocery store. Matt and I rarely eat at restaurants because we save so much money if we buy our food from a grocery store. Additionally, pick up some portable snacks to bring with you for lunch during the day. (Matt and I usually bring cheese, bread, and apples.) That will save you the cost of having to buy lunch somewhere.
  2. Pick the Cheapest Route Possible: Matt is the master at finding the least expensive travel routes. He pulls up a spreadsheet and writes down the potential paths and checks the transportation methods. Selecting the least expensive route can mean changing the order of cities or picking a different mode of transportation (bus v. train v. plane). Add up the costs and pick the one that saves you the most money.
  3. Look for Good Hostel Prices: Let’s face it. If you want to save some money, you can’t stay in hostels with a 99% positive rating on HostelWorld. Matt and I set limits for ourselves with lodging (nothing below a 70% rating, free WiFi, access to lockers, fair location, and linen included) and then try to pick the cheapest that will match those requirements. If you are cool with staying in a room with however many people, it’s even cheaper. If you can still find a cheap private room, take it because those are few and far between. Budget to get some uninterrupted sleep every once in a while.
  4. Forgo Public Transportation: Barring cities where it is absolutely necessary to take public transportation without having to spend half the day walking (I’m looking at you Berlin!), Matt and I opt to travel by foot. This saves us money and helps us get some exercise. Double win!
  5. Find Free Museums: Sometimes museums are free. Sometimes there are reduced entrance fees. Sometimes you still have to pay full price. Matt and I are going to go to museums no matter what but if there is no entrance fee or a reduced one, you’ll probably find us there. We do have our limits though. If admission is crazy, we probably won’t cough up the cash. Occasionally you need to remind yourself that just because something is expensive doesn’t mean that it is better.
  6. Create Your Own Tour: It’s cool when there is a free walking tour (keep in mind that “free” usually means tip based so be prepared for that) but sometimes it is worth it to make your own tour. Matt and I will outline some buildings we want to see or that we know are highlights and then we’ll visit those by foot. Thanks to the interwebs, we can get all the information we need to know online. And we save money, even if it is just a measly tip. (FYI: Matt and I did this for a chocolate tour in Brussels and saved ourselves seventy dollars each. Sure, we didn’t get to do a chocolate class at the end of our tour but we still ate at all the chocolate stores that the company listed on their route.)
  7. Sleep the Whole Day: Every once in a while you should take a break from your backpacking excursions for your sanity and health. It can be rough when you are constantly moving. That day you take as a break every few weeks is also a day when you will have only the expenses of your cheap hostel accommodations and some food you bought from the grocery store. Score!
  8. Reserve Ahead or Don’t: It’s a game that you have to play. Do you reserve ahead or wait until the last minute? Both can potentially yield cheap results. If you see a deal early on and are able to book in advance, I say why not. You just saved yourself some money. If you wait until the last minute and find a deal, great. It’s really a crap shoot. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Look for those deals and take them when you see them.
  9. Pick and Choose Your Experiences: You are traveling for your enjoyment even if you do need to stick to a budget. Plan for experiences that you know you’ll want to do. For example, I have money that I’m willing to expend on going to restaurants and taking the occasional pricey tour that gets us out of the cities we visit. Pick what you know you’ll love and never forget.
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Museum Magic & the Leopold Museum

Despite some controversies associated with the Leopold Museum, specifically issues of repatriation of art stolen by the Nazis (watch the documentary Portrait of Wally if you’re curious), I decided to visit this museum. Just so you know, the museum did end up paying the families for the paintings they acquired in a less than savory manner. I was curious to visit this museum after seeing the documentary. There’s no denying it, the dude (Leopold) is rich and egotistical. You can see it in the text panels that pay him homage. It’s his museum so I understand where the ego comes from; not many people have the resources to put together a museum like this. It was definitely an experience I will not soon forget.

And now a magical museum moment that I believe proves the power of these institutions:

When Matt and I arrive at the museum, we jump into our usual routine: ditch the bags and look for the bathroom. Matt pays one euro for coat check. (Slightly annoying but whatever. You know the place has enough money to do a free coat check.) We then figure out that the bathroom is in the basement. We briskly descend stairs and weave our way through a few corridors. I’m walking about a room behind Matt because I have shorter legs. I turn the corner. “Oh wow,” I whisper. The pathway to the water closet is intersected by the Giacometti temporary exhibition and it stops me right in my tracks. It’s something that I know I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I’d seen some of Giacometti’s smaller scale work and studied him briefly before but now his tall, thin sculptures tower over me. I should  mention that I’ve had my awed moments in museums before (why else would I have paid money for a Museum Studies degree) but this is the first time I felt that an exhibit actually halted me and took me completely by surprise. It’s surreal and special. The statues rest on pedestals but a few inches above the ground with illumination underneath each. The floor is grey (reminiscent of Giacometti’s studio) and the walls are a metallic bronze (reminding us of the material he used). On the wall opposite from me are silhouettes of the statues rendered in cream (a reference to the plaster). This room is magic. The designers and curators crafted it in such a way that it does perfect homage to Giacometti’s work. I feel as if I’m in a sacred space and I hate when art museums feel like that but I’m cool with it this time. Whoever set that up, they are damn good. It really got you to look at the artists work and engage with the whole environment. And it was a moment that made me put my knowledge on the back burner and look at the objects. I often find myself evaluating design decisions but that urge was completely erased when I entered that exhibition. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures of the temporary exhibit so I just have this lame photo of a free leaflet they were giving out. I have to say that I do like it though.

Giacometti Exhibition Pamphlet

Giacometti Exhibition Pamphlet

The rest of the art work that I viewed while at the Leopold were on the typical white walls that you tend to see in permanent exhibition spaces. Of course there were plenty of works by Egon Schiele (you’ll see that they take up most of the photos below) but there were plenty of other artists represented. Leopold was obsessed with Schiele’s work so I only thought it appropriate to present those to you. I threw in a Klimt and one by Albert Birkle for fun. I love the expression and eye’s of the subject in Birkle’s painting.

Egon Schiele, House Wall on the River, 1915

Egon Schiele, House Wall on the River, 1915

Egon Schiele, Detail of Chrysanthemums, 1910

Egon Schiele, Detail of Chrysanthemums, 1910

Egon Schiele, Crescent of of Houses II (Island Town), 1915

Egon Schiele, Crescent of of Houses II (Island Town), 1915

Egon Schiele, Detail of Mother and Daughter, 1913

Egon Schiele, Detail of Mother and Daughter, 1913

Egon Schiele, Detail of Stylized Flowers in Front of a Decorative Background, 1908

Egon Schiele, Detail of Stylized Flowers in Front of a Decorative Background, 1908

Gustav Klimt, Detail of Death and Life, 1910-1911, reworked 1915-1916

Gustav Klimt, Detail of Death and Life, 1910-1911, reworked 1915-1916

Albert Birkle, Man with Fur Cap (My Brother the Animal), 1923

Albert Birkle, Man with Fur Cap (My Brother the Animal), 1923

 

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Please note that the featured image is another detail of Egon Schiele’s Chrysanthemums, 1910.

Eating Like Kings in Krakow

While Matt and I were in Krakow, we ate like kings. Matt and I went to a restaurant for every single meal except for breakfasts. And it was all extremely affordable and high quality. If there is one thing I would recommend when you visit Krakow it’s to take advantage of the currency exchange and eat at some awesome restaurants. If you don’t believe me, check out the details of some of the meals that we had including the prices. It will probably blow your mind like it did ours.

 

Cafe Botanica  (55,50 Polish Zloty = 16.60)

  1. Raspberry Creme Brulee – I’m a huge fan of creme brulee so I jumped at the chance to get some in Krakow. I’ve never had raspberries cooked into the custard before but it was amazing.
  2. Caprese Salad with Bread – This salad was an option in almost all the restaurants we went to.
  3. Foot Long Panini with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Arugula, and Garlic Sauce: Move over Subway! This foot long panini cost be about US$3.50. And it tasted awesome.
  4. Pot of Black Tea
  5. Large Black Coffee

 

Nova Krova — An All Vegan Restaurant (63 Polish Zloty = 18.84 USD)

 

  1. Quinoa Spinach Burger with Grilled Vegetables, Lettuce, Pickles, and Spicy Sauce: This was not some rinky dink veggie burger. This thing had heft!
  2. Barley Salad with Cucumbers: Refreshing, healthy, and cheap. What more can you ask for?
  3. Beetroot Soup with Coconut Milk, Pumpkin Seeds, and Sprouts: They gave me a lot of this soup and I enjoyed every single bite. I also ordered a burger so my stomach may have felt like it was going to burst but it was worth it.
  4. Orange Lemonade
  5. Regular Lemonade
  6. Millet Burger with Vegan Mayo, Arugula, Pumpkin Seeds, and Tomatoes: This burger was absolutely delicious and, like the quinoa burger, huge. I was so full after this amazing lunch.
Beetroot Soup, Nova Krova, Krakow, Poland

Beetroot Soup, Nova Krova, Krakow, Poland

 

Bon Appetea (23,30 Polish Zloty = 6.97 USD)

  1. Matcha Coconut Bubble Tea with Tapioca: I had been passively looking for bubble tea my whole trip and this was the first place I came upon. The matcha bubble tea was so yummy!
  2. Passion Fruit Green Bubble Tea with Mango Boba
Brownie with Ice Cram and Caramel Sauce, TriBeca, Krakow, Poland

Brownie with Ice Cram and Caramel Sauce, TriBeca, Krakow, Poland

 

TriBeca (65 Polish Zloty = 19.44 USD)

  1. Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce: This was so yummy. And I ate it before my meal. No shame.
  2. Handmade Strawberry Lemonade with Mint: This lemonade was light and refreshing. Plus it was all natural. It didn’t have any extra sugar like you would probably see in American Strawberry Lemonades.
  3. Huge Caprese Salad with Bread
  4. Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula and Bread: I tried this out instead of the typical caprese salad that I’d been seeing everywhere. It was delicious but it was so much food. I couldn’t even eat it all.
  5. Large Americano
Beet Salad, TriBeca, Krakow, Poland

Beet Salad, TriBeca, Krakow, Poland

 

Morskie Oko (58 Polish Zloty = 17.35 USD)

  1. Potato Pancakes: These were so creamy and delicious. I need to figure out how to make these when I get home.
  2. Large Jug of Mineral Water
  3. Fava Bean Pierogies with Caramelized Onions: This dish was my favorite of the two pierogies we tried. These were the best pierogies that I have ever eaten.
  4. Spinach and Cheese Pierogies with Caramelized Onions

 

Like the information and photos you found here? Check out my food blog Ravenous Wander. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Fates Exhibition, Secession, Vienna

Diana Al-Hadid’s The Fates exhibition at Secession in Vienna was breathtaking. It afforded me the opportunity to see art in a way I had never seen it before. Moments like that are rare and amazing. I went through the exhibition in the order that they were presented in the text panel which was immediately to my left upon entering the space. The text is unobtrusive and only found in one spot; it allows you to focus on the art rather than look for labels. The only exception to following the panel was Phantom Limb which you find dead center upon entering the space. Both Still Life with Gold and Sleep Walker are unique in that Al-Hadid creates a painting in three dimensions by removing pieces of the walk on both sides. It was fascinating to be able to see through the walls. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Sleep Walker and Moving Target; you can see a shot of the two lined up perfectly below. Ending with Untitled and Blind Bust II across from each other, I found myself pondering about the message that Al-Hadid was trying to convey. I like art that makes me think so I liked Al-Hadid’s The Fates. I look forward to doing more research into her work.

Diana Al-Hadid, Phantom Limb, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Phantom Limb, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Detail of Phantom Limb, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Detail of Phantom Limb, 2014

The Fates Exhibition View (Left: Moving Target, 2014, Right: Sleep Walker, 2014

The Fates Exhibition View (Left: Diana Al-Hadid, Moving Target, 2014, Right: Diana Al-Hadid, Sleep Walker, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Still Life with Gold, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Still Life with Gold, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Detail of Untitled, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Detail of Untitled, 2014

Diana Al-Hadid, Blind Bust II, 2012

Diana Al-Hadid, Blind Bust II, 2012

 

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Please note that the featured image is a detail from Diana Al-Hadid’s Phantom Limb, 2014.

Prague: A Few Photos

Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague

Skulls at Bone Chapel, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

Skulls at Bone Chapel, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

Cherub and Skull, Bone Chapel, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

Cherub and Skull, Bone Chapel, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

 

View from Astronomical Clock Tower, Prague

View from Astronomical Clock Tower, Prague

Like these photos of Prague and Kutna Hora? Check out my Flickr photostream!