Frugal Travel Tips For Cairo, Egypt

When travelers think of Cairo, they think of the Pyramids Of Giza, the only remaining wonder of the ancient world but much of the joy of being in Cairo, comes from the unique culture. Observing this culture, including eating well, can be frugal for the savvy traveler.

Pyramids Of Giza

If you have time to explore the Pyramids of Giza complete with the Sphinx at the entrance, then the entrance fee is worth it. To touch the same stones laid by the ancients is an experience. However, for time crunched or extremely budget conscious travelers, the view from the outside is fine, especially to watch the laser light show at night.

Note: Any pictures of locals or camels usually come with a price tag so be prepared.

Khan el-Khalili

Traders have been bargaining in the Khan for centuries. One of the largest markets in the world, this is the place to people watch, to pick up souvenirs and to perfect haggling skills.

Haggling is expected, even welcomed. How to tell if the shopkeeper has reached the rock bottom price? If you walk away and the shopkeeper lets you go.

Note: The Middle Eastern’s definition of personal space is much different (as in much less space) than the average North American’s. Expect some close encounters.

Falafel In A Pita

One of the most popular Sandwiches in the Middle East is the falafel in a pita (so popular even McDonalds has a version). Deep fried chick peas formed into a ball, put in a flat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy tahini sauce, the mix is not only delicious but inexpensive. We bought falafel in a pita for the equivalent of 25 cents U.S.

How to find the most inexpensive falafel stand?

Follow the local teenage boys. Teenage boys (the world over) have a nose for finding inexpensive meals of half decent quality. Then just point at what one of them order.

Juice Bars

To wash down the falafel, consider visiting one of the numerous juice bars. The juice is freshly squeezed but the glasses are reused, often without rinsing, so walk with your own plastic cup if you’re squeamish.

Cairo is one of the oldest cities in the world, a place of pyramids and mummies, but it does not have to be one of the most expensive. The frugal traveler can eat, drink, shop, and sight see without blowing the budget.

Frugal Travel Tips For Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in the world. A mix of new and old, history and shopping, Europe and Asia, Istanbul provides something for everyone, especially the frugal traveler.

The Blue Mosque

When I think of Istanbul artwork, I think of the beautiful blue and white tiles and no where will a traveler find more beautiful examples of 17th century Blue Iznik tiles than in the Blue Mosque. The entrance fee is free but as it is a religious site, women should bring a head scarf (I always walk with one) and dress modestly.

The Grand Bazaar

This, one of the largest covered markets in the world, is where the frugal traveler finds souvenirs. Favorites include tiles, carpets, and apple tea sets. Haggling is a must and shopkeepers are quite persistent (though cheerful). The concept of personal space is different than in North America so expect to get up close and personal. That is part of the fun.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was first a basilica, then a mosque, and today a museum. Often when travelers see photos of Istanbul, this building is featured. There is an entrance fee (about $10 U.S.) but the view of the 9th to 10th century mosaics are worth it. This site is rather crowded so time accordingly.

Carpet Shopping

Carpet shopping in Turkey is an experience. Shoppers are served the delicious apple tea in beautiful tea sets while carpets are unrolled before them. In the good carpet shops, travelers may see one of a kind silk carpets from places such as Hereke, each signed by the artist.

Fish Sandwiches

Along the Bosphorus, under the Galata Bridge, are tiny little restaurants specializing in the must eat local food in Istanbul, the fish sandwich. It is exactly as it sounds, fish in bread, and eaten by both locals and travelers. And they are very inexpensive.

Istanbul, one of my favorite cities in the world, has something to interest everyone. There are great cultural sights, unique shopping experiences and inexpensive eating options.

Frugal Travel Tips For Cruises

Cruises are one of my favorite ways to see the world. I love falling asleep in one country and waking up in another, not having to pack and unpack. Cruise lines run the range of prices from value to super expensive. For frugal travelers, here are some tips to cut expenses.

Consider All Itineraries

When most people think of cruises, they think of the Caribbean, the Mediterrian, and perhaps Alaska. However, name an ocean port and there is likely a cruise sailing into it. And some of these itineraries can not be only bargains but a pleasant surprise. We once booked a 12 day Baltic cruise from London to St. Petersburg and return for less than the airfare from New York to London. It remains one of our favorite cruises.

Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Food is normally included in the price of a cruise (except for dining at the exclusive restaurants). However, beverage other than water, coffee, tea, and if lucky iced tea come with an additional cost. So what we do is buy non-alcoholic beverages in ports (allowable – for alcoholic drinks, there is often a corking charge) and then pour them into glasses.

Make Your Own Tour

We’ve been on over a dozen cruises all over the world and have only done one ship organized tour (on our first cruise). They are expensive, move forward at the pace of the slowest traveler, and restrictive. For a well organized traveler, making their own arrangements is preferable.

One trick that we use is to look at the sights the ship tours cover and include those in our “tour.”

Note: Tour Directors will often tell of horror stories about passengers not getting back to the ship on time. The solution? Leave some extra time and do the far away venues first.

Big Breakfast, Late Dinner

For the frugal traveler, maximizing the time in port is a must. That means if possible choosing the late seating at dinner. Also we tend not to eat large lunches (if at all). Instead we eat a large breakfast on the ship (where the breakfast is free), snack on bits and bites of local food while on shore, and then top the day off with a leisurely late dinner.

Cruising is one of the favorite ways for this frugal traveler to see the world. And by using these tips, it is one luxury that can fit into a traveler’s budget.