Budget Travel the Jamie Z Way

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Jamie Z, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. SourcetoSea

    SourcetoSea Adventurer

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    Great article Jamie - I'm completlely down with this style of travelling. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000, and my wife and I paddled the Mississippi River in 2005, and both trips had to be done on the austerity budget. Off the top of my head, I spent about $3000 over six month on the trail, and about the some for both of us over 75 days on the Mississippi.

    I wrote an article awhile back you might want to check out on budget travel, called Thru-hiking on the Cheap. The URL (right now) for that is http://sourcetosea.net/wordpress/thru-hiking-on-the-cheap

    I'm converting the site over to wordpress, and still need to get rid of "wordpress" in that URL, but the article will always be somewhere on www.sourcetosea.net
    #61
  2. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    I hadn't looked at it that way. I've often thrown the idea of hitchhiking across the country, and my plan would be to look like I'm not down and out. Though I wouldn't want to present myself as a potential theft target, I'd like to appear that I could offer a few dollars for gas.

    Nice write up. I like your wording regarding cigs, beer, and sodas. I tried to say the same thing, but used a lot more words.

    I keep tossing around the idea of hiking the AT... A guy I might a few years back has done a number of long-term travels and he said his AT hike (actually the entire eastern coast from Cape Gaspe to Key West was the best thing he'd ever done. Like him, I think I'd go north to south.

    Jamie
    #62
  3. Tory1942

    Tory1942 The Retired Reprobate

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    I've asked this question on other threads, so here goes. I carry a lightweight hammock on my tours. Usually I motel it, being older and a diabetic, but it would be useful to sleep out now and then.

    A hammock needs a couple of sturdy upright things (trees, posts, etc.) 12' -- 15' apart. But, what do you do when there aren't any trees. I saw a picture onece of of guy who had his hammock attached to one handlebar of huis bike and the other end to a metal fence, with his butt only a couple inches off the ground, but sleeping comfortably.

    Anyone out there see or thought of ways to use your bike to serve as one end of the hammock's hanger -- keeping in mind that the pull on the hammock's lines are VERY strong. :1drink
    #63
  4. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

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    Water is a big expense. I've found the best solution world wide is a good water filter like:
    http://www.rei.com/product/767831

    Whether you're near a stream, at a campsite, or in a hotel you can get water, run it through the filter, & have potable water for the day. In a hotel/hostel I fill the sink & pump the water from there.
    #64
  5. Southernmost_Paul

    Southernmost_Paul Been here awhile

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    This guy hasn't shown up here in the Keys yet. I'll keep a look out for him and report how's he's fared.

    :thumb
    #65
  6. BlaSTr

    BlaSTr Adventurer

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    Interesting topic, JamieZ.

    I divide up those dried meals (mac & cheese, hamburger helper, tuna helper) in half as most of the time that's about all I need. The packages keep well for several days provided you seal the contents from moisture.

    I carry a few zip lock bags into every place I eat. If it's fast food, then I can replenish my salt, pepper, mayo, hot sauce, catsup, relish.... and if it's an all you can eat blue hair special I fill up the bags with goodies that'll last a day or so. Hey, it's all you can eat, but there's no mention of having to eat it there! And it helps if the jacket has big pockets. :evil

    For me, ramen style foods have lots of carbs, salt, and almost no nutritional value. Some days however, I find the need for salt as these taste particularly good.

    I also cruise the food isles looking for the best buys as well as checking out the Managers Special section for meats. I carry a small folding ice cooler and with it packed with ice things'll stay cold for a day or so. At the soup bar I grab a dozen or so packets of crackers (regular or oyster), napkins, and utensils if they're available.

    I carry a stove because I've found that I can cook a meal cheaper and faster than buying one. Some times I'm not in a location where finding food at a reasonable price is easy so I have a few things stashed away (tuna, sardines in mustard sauce, etc) that can tide me over.

    Like many here, I like oatmeal for breakfast and throw in some homemade gorp to add a few more nutrients. The 12 pack assortment costs me about $3.00.

    Don't be afraid to look in the discount cart at the supermarket. Some of these items are nearing expiration but if the can looks good (no bulging, dents, or obvious problems) chances are it'll cook just fine.

    Don't forget signs in the window. I once got two huge pieces of peppereroni pizza for $.49 each by seeing an add in a storefront and found a small diner that served a 2-2-2 (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 pieces of sausage/bacon, toast, and coffee) breakfast for $2.22, tax included. I also look at the local free paper to see if there are any ads for really special deals. You never know and if you don't look, you won't find them.

    One of the things I like is 3-4 bean salad that's sold in the can. I'll grab a can, stash it in the freezer section, walk around a bit, and then retrieve it and pay at the counter. It gives me a cold meal that tastes better than store temperature and a respite from the heat. I've also done that with canned fruit, juices, etc. I also pass by the self-serve soda fountain and fill a zip lock baggie with ice for cool drinks later or to put in the Camelbak for later that day.

    I've thought about the water quality but in the US it's pretty well regulated. It may taste like chlorine or worse but it is safe to drink. If you're really concerned then boiling, adding a small amount of bleach to the water, or adding one of those water purification pills usually does the trick. I've not gotten sick on water, but I have gotten sick on bad food or dirty cooking gear. And don't forget to wash your hands! :D

    The NPS has a pass that for $80/year gives you free access to all the national lands. I've used it enough to more than justify renewing it. A look at freecampgrounds.com at any library will tell you what's free in your area.

    I've heard mixed things about Wal-Mart camping. Evidently it's OK for RVs but not for tents. Camping nearby but not on the property probably won't cause a problem provided you're discrete.
    #66
  7. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    I have to update my tuna comments (that sounds kinda dirty... :lol3). With tuna being over-fished (so I'm told) it's getting really expensive, even in the can. I found the foil packets of tuna on sale yesterday and they were acutally cheaper per ounce than in the can! Crazy...

    MB some other form of canned meat will have to step in, but they all sound so unappealing: Spam, vienna sausages, and the "chicken" that's ground to a mush and reassambled in the can... yikes. Well, this summer will be on the cheap, so I'll experiment and get back to yas.

    I like that 3-bean salad can in the freezer idea, but I couldn't find anything like that on my test run. Damn I'm hungry...

    Chick-Filet has a nice assorment of packets, lots of neat flavors and sauces individually wrapped, try stopping in there next trip.
    #67
  8. rboett

    rboett posser noob 205

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    #68
  9. Elyptic

    Elyptic n00b

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    One thing I found from backpacking is that hikers know how to pack cheap and light.

    A few things:
    • Check out that tuna carefully. Often, the label on the can tells you the weight of the contents (including the water) which we throw away. The foil packets have less water and are therefore, sometimes cheaper for the same amount of meat.
    • Idahoian mashed potatos and stove top stuffing are great bulk to an otherwise boring meal. Add some canned chicken or pre-cooked bacon (can be found in many stores) and you've got a pretty tasty meal.
    • Bulk granola pre-mixed with powdered milk and some dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, etc...) is tasty with just a little water over it to moisten it. Full of calories too. Hot water works well in the colder months.
    • I found an insulated mug / coffee press at a local coffee shop. Pricy, but makes great coffee and I can't stand instant! Once you own it, it's cheap -- no filters and you can get pretty much any coffee ground for a french press these days.
    • I like finding a health food store and stocking up on dehydrated items such as fruits and veggies. A small handful of dried fruit in oatmeal makes it much less boring for day after day consumption. A handful of dehydrated veggies in some raman can be a good treat.
    • While raman doesn't have much in it, it has fat and salt -- two things which are very important if you're exerting yourself or in for a long cold night. Eat it with some protein and you're not doing too bad.
    • Powdered milk adds calories to just about anything. Sauces, mashed potatos and the like you won't even taste it. Stretches the budget by allowing you to eat less.
    I'm a big fan of a multi-fuel stove. Weight aside, waking up to hot coffee on a cold morning or having a hot dinner is really important to mental health for some (myself included). I don't mind eating granola bars or peanut butter tortillas (try nutella on tortillas for a great treat!) for lunches or throughout the day on rest stops. But I really like a hot dinner!
    #69
  10. BeanBoy

    BeanBoy Raconteur

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    Although more expensive than tuna, I'm partial to sardines in mustard sauce. Whenever I make a mid-day stop at a grocery store, I'll buy a tin of those (four or five fish per can) plus a bit of deli-sliced cheese and a roll or two; combined they make for a nutritional meal that tastes more expensive than it really is.

    That's just how I am, though. I can seem to sleep almost anywhere, so I'd rather spend my money on quality, tasty food than on lodging or accomodations. Of course, I've also dumpster dived....
    #70
  11. KinkyWinks

    KinkyWinks El Gringo Perdido

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    I buy Nature Valley Granola bars at Sam's, I can't remember what I pay for the big box of 70 oats and honey bars but it is cheap. Also the Austin brand peanutbutter and cheese crackers in a box of 45 packs is about 10 cents a pack. I can live for days on these things. They pack easy, don't spoil, and are water proof.
    #71
  12. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Nice! Some good ideas in here.
    #72
  13. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Dude! Did you see all the new flavors of Nature Valley??? I got one that had a bunch of peanuts, can't remember, but it was a light blue box, very good, and same price. MB four new flavors, oh yeah! I've lived on those for a long time...

    I tried getting a can of Kidney beans that had chili seasoning in it off the shelf. Pryed it open, poured it on tortillias and really enjoyed it, 59 cents plus the tortillias... no mess either, I HATE cleaning up dishes when camping. I think I'm gonna start going with corn tortillias because they are a little smaller (for packing). Anyone know if they are slightly better for you than flour? Seems like I remember hearing that, but it could be total BS...
    #73
  14. tomatocity

    tomatocity Retired and lovin' it

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    Sweet & Salty Nut, Peanut

    Chewy Trail Mix, Fruit & Nut (almond, Raisin, Peanut & Cranberry)
    #74
  15. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    In my experience, the Nature Valley bars and the crackers turn into crumbs long before I eat them all. That's why I prefer the chewy style.

    That's a great idea. I've done the same with a few slices of bread and some pork and beans. As for corn tortillas, the reason I don't like to travel with them is because they're brittle. Before long you have a bag of chips rather than tortillas. Flour tortillas are bendable.

    :scratch

    Jamie
    #75
  16. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Hmmm, I usually don't have a problem with that, but I sure can understand!


    [/quote] That's a great idea. I've done the same with a few slices of bread and some pork and beans. As for corn tortillas, the reason I don't like to travel with them is because they're brittle. Before long you have a bag of chips rather than tortillas. Flour tortillas are bendable.[/quote]


    Yeah, I'd had that thought too, I may look into some round-ish tupperware containers since tortillas are a staple. I sometimes pack a frisbee which has a myriad of uses, including protecting tortillias from harm in the luggage.
    #76
  17. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    oh, another thing I inadvertantly tried while filling up my camelback at a gas station: After pouring in ice and looking for the water dispenser on the fountain drink machine I accidentally bumped the lemonade tab which was the same spout as the water, only for a split second, then found the water button. Those few tablespoons of lemonade in the 3 liter camelback sure made the water taste good! I'm not advising stealing, but if you happen to be clumsy... :evil
    #77
  18. tomatocity

    tomatocity Retired and lovin' it

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    Nature Valley
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  19. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    nice post, jamie. i have found that if you include the word please in your requests to strangers it disarms some initial reluctance to help. then a thank you goes a long way, too. and most folks still enjoy being called sir and maam.

    that said, jamie, sir. please tell me the brand of the completely freestanding dark colored tent you use. most have the initial structure freestanding but the cover usually has the flap or vestibule staked out. and most have emergency rescue colors...

    in the film industry, after all is packed the last walk around is called the idiot check......don't all raise your hands at the same time..

    thanks, rockydog
    #79
  20. viola-tor

    viola-tor Needs to ride!

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    Casinos!

    For cheap, hot, large meals and low cost (or free) drinks (gotta give in once in a while). Just stay away from the gambling tables... I don't have a problem with that, but I guess some ppl do. I just did this in NV and had a great time, and met all kinds of cool ppl too.
    #80