Save Money. Walk!

By Aussie on the Road on  7 Comments
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As featured in Brooke vs the World’s Thrifty Travel eBook and Holes in my Soles Magnificent Monday: Transport.

I’m a day late on this one, but this was to be my submission for Brooke vs. the World‘s thrifty blogging tips eBook. Curse my busy weekend of sunbathing, family get togethers, and delicious food at the Aroma Festival!

When it comes to travel, it’s all about the Benjamins (or Sejeong’s in this case)

Those who know me are probably well aware that ‘budget’ and ‘Chris’ are not words that go hand in hand. In fact, for as long as I’ve had money I’ve had a real issue with keeping it in my pockets. Whether it was Magic the Gathering cards at 12, Dungeons & Dragons books at 16, alcohol at 18, DVDs at 21, or travel in the past few years – my money has rarely had a chance to settle in my account before it goes flying back out of it.

So where my fellow contributors will be able to tell you how to pack cheaply or how to save money on flights, I’m really only qualified to give you one simple tip: walk.

It seems an obvious cost cutting tip, but too often the temptation is there to grab the local public transport or flag down a cab – especially in countries where getting a taxi doesn’t involve taking out a second mortgage on your house…

FYI: Taxis in Australia are criminally overpriced.

While a bus ticket might only set you back a bit of the loose change in your pocket, it’s that kind of ‘easy spending’ that quickly amounts to a decent chunk out of your budget. Catching the bus or train in Sydney, for example, runs at somewhere between $3-$6 depending on how far you’re traveling. That’s two beers the Stratton Hotel or one beer at most other pubs. That’s half the price of your pub meal.

Total a week’s worth of bussing or training around the city and you’re looking at upwards of $50. That’s $8 more than a Rocks Ghost Tour. Just over a quarter of the price of a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Two meals at Hart’s Pub or 4 Pines Brewery.

Craig and Caz over at yTravel Blog recently did a fantastic piece about the importance of cutting corners sometimes to make a memorable experience happen. The temptation might be there to splurge on a cab home after a night out or grab a bus those five or six blocks to your next destination – but before reaching into your pocket, it’s worth stopping and thinking what is more important to you: a lazy ride or an unforgettable experience?

Just one of the colorful characters I’ve met on foot. A street performer in Christchurch, NZ

Saving money isn’t the only upside to using your legs to get around. While it’s possible to snap a shaky photo from the backseat of a taxi – nothing gives you the freedom to capture that perfect photograph like being on foot. You’re not only better equipped to stop and frame the shot, but also better equipped to actually spot it in the first place.

I once wrote an entry about how life’s little detours can lead to unexpected adventure. I won’t say that a drunk passenger or a particularly interesting cab driver don’t make for a good anecdote, but from the back of a moving vehicle you’re not likely to spot that little hole in the wall restaurant or that quirky piece of street art that reminds you of a friend back home.

A bus or train gives you a set route through a city. It’s rarely going to be the most interesting or the most characterful. Being on foot gives you the ability to explore that dimly lit alley or spend a few minutes lying around in that temptingly green park. It opens up opportunities for conversations when you need to ask directions or delicious meals when a tantalizing scent catches your attention.

Amazed by the variety of beers at Widmer Brewery in Portland, OR

Some of my most entertaining travel experiences have involved taking on the world on foot. Whether it was a walking tour of Portland, a day long brewery tour, a day spent exploring beautiful Christchurch, or the simple pleasure of soaking in the sun in oft forgotten Newcastle – being on foot is what travel is all about. Sure, we need the planes to get us there and the occasional bus to close the distance – but if you’re afraid to walk, you’re not really doing the place you’re in justice.

Plus, y’know, those beers and burgers are going to leave you with a mammoth task at the gym when you eventually get home.

So, the next time you’re out and the temptation is there to flag down a bus or duck onto a train – stop and think about a few things:

  • What am I giving up by not walking?
  • Where could my money be better spent?
  • Do I want to have to spend every waking moment in the gym?

And, if you’re anything like me, being rubbed up against by the assembled masses of humanity doesn’t exactly ring with appeal either.

So there’s my contribution. It’s not rocket science and it’s probably not even news to most of you, but hopefully it’s a good reminder that the world’s there to be explored – and you won’t see a whole hell of a lot from the back seat of a car.

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