10 Ways You Know You're a Frugal Traveler

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 08/11/11 •  5 min read

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If you know me well, then you know that I have a tendency to lean towards champagne tastes. I’m fascinated with luxury and expensive things.

I could tell you where the best suites are in Vegas, all about luxurious island resorts the world over, and I can tell the difference between a Panerai and a Breitling.

That said, when it comes to traveling, I’m one of the biggest cheap asses you’ll ever meet.

Perhaps this is due to my finance background, spillover from being frugal after leaving my job, or perhaps I just like to annoy my travel companions.

Regardless, if there’s an opportunity to save a few bucks on a trip, I’m the first person to jump at it.

Here are just a few of the times when you know you’ve become a little bit too frugal…

You spend 19 hours driving to save a grand total of $100 on a flight.  Screw opportunity cost, vehicle maintenance, and the guaranteed backaches.  I took the longest road trip of my life to save a few bucks, and I’m currently somewhere between Rawlins and Laramie, Wyoming doing the exact same thing.

You choose a “1st Choice Inn” over a Holiday Inn Express on the road because it was $15 cheaper.  If any of you have ever stayed at the 1st Choice Inn in Rawlins, you know there’s no amount of money that you could have saved in order to make the stay worth it.

I’ll get a meal or beer that I wasn’t crazy about because it was $3 cheaper than what I really wanted. Have you ever been in super frugal mode and show up at a restaurant? Instead of the Blue Cheese Bacon Burger and the Total Domination IPA, I’ll go with the plain hamburger and the PBR to save money.  It’s a $3 difference. Seriously. Pathetic.

2 Layovers, Double the Time.  I know you’ve done this at some point. You hop on Expedia, find the cheapest flight and will do whatever you have to in order to grab that flight.  Doesn’t matter if there’s 2 layovers, it’s twice the travel time as the direct one, and this one leaves at 11:30pm. Once again, is the hassle really worth it? I’ll let you be the judge.

You make your girlfriend stay at a $5/night hotel when she flies out to Bali to see you. So ummm, yeah. Last year when I was still building my business, Tate came out to visit me in Bali.  This may be hands down the dirtiest place I’ve ever stayed.  Don’t worry I made up for it by putting her up at the Lebua for a night back in Bangkok – but only because it was 75% off… 🙂

You only travel places where you have a couch to crash on.  I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve actually paid for a hotel.  Almost all of my trips (up until lately apparently) revolve around crashing on a friend’s couch.  I’d be lying if I said this was something I was proud of – especially as someone who once planned on being a hotel manager.

You will make your bags burst before paying for a luggage fee.  You know the type, the travelers with a “carry on” bigger than most people’s checked bags.  “It’s totally a carry on!” You’re also totally the dude holding up the flight because the overhead bins won’t shut.

You will labor over every major purchase for weeks.  Remember that time I bought the new iPod? Or the DSLR camera? Yeah most people might think about that for a day or two as they want to make sure they get the right one. I probably spent a month debating each of those purchases, which now are essentials on every trip I take.

You’ll take the 3rd class train because you didn’t want to spend 20 bucks more for the first class sleeper train. Yeah that was a big one.  Ever ride 3rd class in a Thai train? Didn’t think so.

You go to a Bangkok public hospital, rather than the international expat hospital to deal with your burn wound. After my sister Courtney helped me burn my foot fire jump-roping down in Koh Phi Phi, I didn’t think it was that bad.  This was until 3 weeks later when I had a half inch deep gash and I could barely walk.  Good news? Seeing the doctor, dressing the wound and all the prescriptions cost a grand total of $18. Sometimes being cheap has its benefits!

So those are just a few of the ways that I’ve cheaped out on my travels, some to my advantage, while others might be a little much.

That said, what do you do to travel frugally?  Is there anything totally ridiculous you’ve done to save a buck?

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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