Travelling frugally and intelligently

I’ve learned a lot about travelling frugally and intelligently.

As you know I went on business for about a month doing the real travelling schtick by leaving Sunday nights and flying back home on Fridays.

It was a brutal awakening of someone who hasn’t really travelled like this since… forever. I was used to just going to a city and staying in the hotel room and not flying back. Not the case here since BF is still in Montreal, I want to go back every weekend to see him, and staying on the weekends is not an option.

Recording expenses

This seems to be the most hassle-free way (long-term and short-term).

First, make a short list of all the places you have to record your expenses in.

For me it was:

1. Quickbooks since I’m a corporation and I have to record all the entries (even if I am seeing a tax person later)

2. Personal Records – Excel sheet just so I knew whether I paid in Cash, Debit or Credit Card

3. Broker Records – Excel sheet they gave me to record everything

4. Daily Expense Envelope with the actual day and date written on the envelope with the list of expenses below it with the amount and store (just so I can glance quickly at it and see what is in that envelope)

Second, keep up on recording everything in that order. Once you write that expense on the envelope, log it in all 3 places. If you can’t access your computer right away, then log them later on when you have everything ready.

It’s a real pain in the ass but it gets the job done and helps me keep track of everything because I have so many effin’ forms to fill out just for expenses.

Trying to only pay with one form of payment

In the past when I worked for a company, I paid everything on my credit card so I wouldn’t forget.

Now that I work for myself, I debit everything out of my bank account and keep good clear records so that I can expense them later.

The best way, is just to get them to pay for everything in advance. No muss, no fuss.

Buy once, eat twice or thrice

If you have to eat out then follow this advice. If not, try and get a hotel room that lets you cook (not everyone’s cup of tea). I am thinking of a kitchenette or a microwave AT LEAST.

I bought a huge meal at the end of the night, and saved the half (or ordered extra) to eat as lunch for the next day.

I do this because I don’t like bad sandwiches, cheap chilli and fatty cafeteria food. I’m trying to eat healthy, not work myself into a fat little grave.

It’s also easier than recording expenses twice. You just do it once for a large amount, and they won’t kvetch about it because it’s the only amount for the entire day which works for them because it’s much cheaper.

Oh and don’t overeat just because you can expense it. It’ll make you fat at the end of the trip and make you feel heavy and sluggish. I’ve been there and done that.

And here are some pics of what I ate all week (not including Starbucks)

Travel lightly with rolling cases

I tried a little travelling bag and a backpack but that got to be too hard on my back because I had to lug the damn thing around instead of just easily rolling it.

So now I just bring my little carryon and try to keep it AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE.

I bring 3 tops, a sweater, 2 pairs of pants, PJs and underwear, and lots of necklaces. That’s it.

I tried to bring less than that, but then I got curry on my one shirt and ended up having to wear the same shirt everyday for the week.

Pack as little as possible.

You have to hoist that stupid thing up into the overhead bin because you DO NOT want to check anything in (it delays you by about an hour in most cases, or longer).

And even if you’re a small, little woman, the men around you will watch, stare, kind of give you a nasty look like they are bored and irritated and WILL NOT HELP.

I only had ONE guy in the entire list of trips help me hoist up my case and help me take it down. I think they were trying to be sensitive to my strong, feminist independent self, but god damn it I wanted them to help me bring it down.

The one guy that helped, I smiled profusely and thanked him.

Kindness works wonders, men!!!

Pack light on liquids, gels and aerosols

Think about whether you really need 2 moisturizers because trying to squeeze little tiny bottles with sharp edges into a little tiny plastic bag with a flimsy close on it is a pain in the ass.

Mini everything is the way to go.

It’s all I’m saying.

Pack properly

Put your liquids, gels and aerosols ALREADY stuffed into that tiny little plastic bag (you can reuse them, they don’t care how new they look), and put it in the FRONT sections of your carry-on so you can easily grab them out and throw them into the bin before going through.

I have this down to an art now.

I also put my laptop in a section where it’s easy to pull out and throw into the bin as well.

If you can, rent a car

Now that I have my driving license, it’s a godsend.

I not only have to spend less (and feel less guilty), but I don’t have to call a cab, stare out the window and wait for it to show up without being outside and freezing my butt off.

And it’s much, much cheaper. And you can use it to get around to the bank and do little errands without hemming and hawing about having to get a cab for $5 to get to the bank and another $5 to get back and having to explain that expense.


But make sure you get a GPS. Some of the roads are really screwy.

If I was travelling with BF on a pleasure trip, we’d be taking public transportation to get around to save money instead of cabbing since we wouldn’t be going to client sites way in the middle of nowhere.

Bring a power cord

I forgot to do this the whole time. But a power cord will be essential if you have more than one electronic device (including a laptop).

I had a cellphone, laptop, iPod, PDA and digital camera. I needed a power cord badly. And hotel rooms don’t have them.

Use iGo as much as possible

iGo basically is one single travel charger with many different tips so you can charge 2 devices at once, and/or bring one charger and change the tip instead of bringing 15 chargers.

It saved a pile of space in my suitcase, and I didn’t have cords tangling all over the place.

In my ideal universe, I’d have everything charge itself wirelessly. Yes. Even with all of those deadly frequencies.

Bring a coat if it’s on the cusp of winter

I just experienced this. I forgot/left my coat thinking that I wouldn’t need it this last week.

Big mistake.

Bring the essentials even if you may not use them (thick gloves, cap, boots).

Good thing I brought woolly socks to wear with my ballet flats, if not, my feet would be freezing right now.

Try not to wear anything suspicious while getting to your flight

Try to avoid the following:

– Baggy clothing (makes them nervous)
– Boots with high heels or wedges
– Metal accessories of any kind

This doesn’t work all the time. I did all of this and I still beeped as I went through the detector.

Total BS. I think they had it up on super high or something and the slightest bit of metal would set it off like the button on my pants.

I almost caved in and wore sweatpants the next time ( no metal ) but I couldn’t bear to wear sweats in public and I was heading to client site right away.

But I usually wear NO jewellery, NO watches, NOTHING metal (not even a belt). It’s partly because I don’t want to take off all that stuff as I go through the metal detector AND I don’t want it to get ‘lost’ on its way through the conveyor belt.

I travel in a very comfortable, loose kind of fitted jersey top with pants that have pockets to put your travel ticket in that feel comfortable when you are sitting.

I also wear shoes that slip on and off because if they have heels on them or a stacked heel, they’ll make you take them off because you may be hiding razor blades in there.

It’s also nice because you can slip off your shoes on the plane (if they don’t smell) and get more relaxed.

Bring strong plastic cutlery

I just washed and reused it from a diner I had stopped in. They’re strong, black plastic forks and spoons, and trust me – you will LOVE that you saved them and put them in your bag (they’re plastic so they can’t be detected as metal in the luggage) and they are so handy when you want to eat something without using your finger like a spoon.

This is especially true when you have leftovers from a restaurant and you try to eat them the next day only to realize you have no cutlery whatsoever and end up eating like a pig in front of the TV with your fingers because you have no way of getting cutlery otherwise, unless you drive back to the restaurant.

Chopsticks are another option.

Bring light carry-on compatible entertainment

With your hands all tied up with carrying things you are not really going to have time to pull out your laptop and watch shows on it. That’s for the hotel room.

Either throw videos on your iPod to watch or bring a book so it’s easy to bring out and easy to put away.

I am suggesting a book AND an iPod because it’s also easy to pull out when you’re squished into the seat, whereas a laptop is not as easy.

And you aren’t allowed electronics while they’re taxi-ing, taking off or landing, so an book (obviously not a Kindle) to read would come in handy so that you don’t stare at your seat partner in boredom, or at the sky full of clouds.

And those are all of my tips for now that I could think of that helped. I’m going to make a list right now of what I wrote and review it before I travel like that again.

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.