Free guided tours

You know there quite many posts out there recommending where to go and what to do for free. For the budget traveller, this can be both boon and bane. Why you might ask? Well hear us out.

If one is tight with money while out on a journey, having free guided tours as now common in many cities is definitely a plus. What better way to get to know a place then having a knowledgeable local point you the way? Ask the right questions and that can help you plan the rest of your time in that city better. Obtain tips from the guide in a variety of queries. That, at least on paper is the selling point of getting on such tours.

But what about the opportunity cost of doing so? What do we mean?

You see, what one sees and is shown on these tours depends on the guide. It also means your frame of mind could have been influenced by the tour. Because the explanations may not be fully accurate and if one makes a decision base on that, one might go off tangent. Or is that paranoid thinking?

Have you been on a free guided tour before? Share your thoughts!

You budget for travel?

Yep. This is one of the most critical things in our opinion. You see, there are many folks out there who have traversed the world on a shoestring and lived to write about it, share about it etc… Great stuff. Some of them will tell you that they did all that without inasmuch with much money. You know, the best things in life are free?


And at the other hand of the ring, we introduce the luxury boxer traveler who seems to live it up very well, all the time running an online business and maintaining a blog to tempt teach you how to emulate their lives… easy right? Sell some stuff, get paid and live a privileged life…


Now if you are like us born with wooden spoons in our mouths (if there was even wood for it) plus not being awfully smart, then obviously we need to work and budget for almost anything we wish – if it includes a monetary exchange in order to obtain it. Otherwise, life sucks right? Heheh… no today it’s not a rant. And no we are not talking about getting into debt either…

It’s about pulling the wool away from your eyes and remind yourself what it really is. Someone told us that the amount we’ve spent on our travel handprints would have gotten us another piece of real estate… or that it would be a good chunk of retirement change available during our old age. Frittered away… oh imagine the dollars flying away…


So the question being posed today is this: do you budget to travel? Or do you travel because you budget? If you have already set aside something for say retirement, do you not ‘budget’ the rest to live you life? Just a thought.

Competition is a good thing?

Vacations. Trips. Journeys. Today we take them for granted. Be it sea, air or land, travel has never been easier or better worded – accessible. We recall as young kids going to the then Paya Lebar airport (yeah it’s an airbase now) to send off loved ones. It was such a big event that entire families turn up. Wow.

Over the years, flying and indeed cruising came to be common-place. It used to be folks who went on vacations often would buy lots of souvenirs and food as gifts for friends and family. Today, some folks can actually count the airport as their second home. Talk about owning a large piece of real estate (dream of many red dotters) heheh…

So this article intrigued us.

No. Not the fact that low cost airlines have brought fares down. That’s a given. Our perspective is drawn back to the issue of how sustainable this all can be. You might know of our rants (here, here and here) about how crowded it is getting to be. Many cities are simply reeling from too many visitors that their infrastructure were not geared up for.

Thus competition is great. Wonderful in fact. But it seems to have spawned ‘side effects’ no? Like the leader of our little red dot inferred last year, too much a good thing might be bad (referencing sugary drinks and the link to diabetes). Just like the cost of sugar-laden products have come down, so has the cost of air travel.  Too many folks circulating in sightseeing cities like the sugar level in blood might cause a host of problems.

What do you think?

Complicated booking classes

Oh no. Semantics. We recalled a year back we were looking for cheap flights from Newark to various destinations within the US. And it was so complicated. From booking classes (first, coach, basic) to seat location (main cabin, aircraft wing, pilot’s lap etc), to seat choices where you pay extra… so many options to have to choose from.

And then for us who are used to NOT paying for checked baggage, darn they charge US$25 per piece! In some cases, you might choose a seat where you pay more but don’t get any more service than the fella sitting next to you. Who could have paid what – like a hundred dollars less. And it borders on misleading the consumer.

This article some months ago illustrates this issue.

And today we what we want to focus upon is simplicty. Decluttering. You know in our daily lives we strive to live simple. Less complex is better. Get rid of unwanted stuff or those that do not really add value. Can airlines do the same in the way they offer their product? Afterall, it is first and foremost about getting people from point A to B. Safely. And comfortably where possible however you define that.

Getting ‘freebies’ is really nice, and let’s be honest who doesn’t want them? But we have to remember airlines are businesses too. So yes, they do want to profit from the endeavour of getting you (and us) to our desired destinations. We respect that. Surely they can get back to basics and KISS? You do know what that means right?

Don’t you think it is time for airline to declutter their complicated booking classes and options?

Booking via foreign websites

Does booking from an overseas website get you a better deal? This article suggests it may well be possible to get prices that one might not get from sites in your own home country. Ok the article actually referred to a ‘foreign agent’. No. Not the James Bond kind, but the travel agents in the countries you intend to travel to.

Because the article seems to suggest some online portal will be able to bring together the “best” agents in these destinations around the world and facilitate your engagement with them. Seems like we still can’t cut out the middleman! LOL.

Hah! We hear you. This is nothing new!

What we have found though from our own experience is that there are price “discrimination” in the way your bookings are handled, particularly airlines. No we are not referring to bias. It simply means the pricing is tailored to a particular market conditions such as the relative average price of tickets, consumer preference and willingness to pay, market share etc.

And as for local agents to book directly with, we do spend a little more effort in sussing out the ones to use. In the most recent example, we took to Tripadvisor (no bias here) to search out reviews of day trip tours from Bangkok Ayutthaya. With thousands of reviews, the ratings did helped us zoom in to Pary Happy Tour. It helped us fulfill the intent of using local guides rather than local corporates too! And we have to admit it was a great choice (patting ourselves on the back now).

Do you book through a local agent in your homebase? Or is it all DIY for you? What do you think about booking direct with agents in the destinations? Have you done so?

Boutique hotels? Try a boutique airline

La Compagnie is a boutique airline that most of us have not heard about. And the one thing about this outfit is that they only offer business class flights. Limited though are the flights to just a handful between the US and Europe, this can really be something to consider for those with the means. Taking in the luxury of business class travel and lounge access especially on your return journey can be a real treat. Latest news is that for you can buy a year’s unlimited pass for flights between New York to Paris or London for £25,000. With the pound really “pounded”…you fill in the blanks.

You know they say you need a holiday after taking one.

And it’s so true. You’ve enjoyed your days in the sunshine. You’ve done some wonderful shopping, ate and drank (perhaps drunk) good. Most importantly, you wish that you had some kind of job that facilitates you to live this kind of lifestyle. Forever.

Then the reality bites.

It’s time to go home, back to that 9-5 (very often times longer) job and the drudgery of paying the mortgage and assorted expenses. Here we call these uncle Bill, and he seems fond of calling up regularly.

la compagnie business class
Taken off La Campagnie

So that return flight in business class comfort is really the final solace before the rubber meets the road. Go on, try it. “If I wind up broke up well  I’ll always remember that I had a swingin’ time”. Know who sang this? Long live the King.

Uncle ‘Bill’ will come a visiting anyway!