Subject: Re: Travelling cheaply
Dear Ziners and Margo in particular,

With regard to questions on travelling cheaply. The first thing we did when we travelled for an extended period of time was rent our home. Even when we returned to Sydney for a short time we left our home rented, and stayed in something much cheaper.

We do a diary of each trip, and know how much we spent in each country, so can give you an accurate per day figure. We usually stay in places that may be lucky to get one star - in cheap places like SE ASia we have own bathroom, quite often pool, cable TV etc, but in more expensive countries we're sometimes don't have our own bathroom, and definitely none of the other extras.

Costs come down considerably if you stay in the one place for a while, rather than spend money on transport. We tend to keep moving, so our costs are higher than they could be. If we buy any trips, we try to buy them from the people running them, or only one step back, at the actual destination. We bought round-the-world tickets (Star Alliance - 15 stopovers and 38,000 miles which were fantastic value if you did a bit of study. Can do some legs by land, although they are still included in your miles. May not be a good idea at present with the way United is).

Also we find it is good to explore cheap, interesting but somewhat grotty countries (Asia, India etc) for a while, then go to Europe for a shorter time (as it's more expensive), then come home via a cheaper place again (e.g. Central America, South America etc). We always eat out at night (usually places recommended in Lonely Planet), with a drink (local beer or the cheapest local wine or spirit (takes some doing in China, I might add!); also eat out at lunch, and quite often breakfast in cheap countries like Asia, but in expensive countries would just have bread, fruit etc. for lunch, and cereal with powdered milk, bread, yoghurt, fruit etc for breakfast.

Per day rates for various countries were - Vietnam US$37, Cambodia US$57, Laos US$19 (!!! that's not an error - in the South, we stayed in lovely new room with good tiles, own bathroom, fan, flyscreens, good bed for US$2!!!), Thailand US$31, Malaysia US$31, Southern China (Yunnan etc) US$30, Korea US$50, Eastern & Southern China US$60, Tibet US$85 (this included hiring guide, 4WD (which we shared with two other people - you put notices up in Lhasa on noticeboards)etc for trip through Tibet and up to Everest Base Camp!! (fantastic!), Nepal US$33, Malta US$55, Italy US$110 (that was partly with our children, and included staying in an expensive villa, then a cheap farmhouse), France US$70, New York US$130 (and probably one of the worst rooms we've stayed in, although one of the most expensive), Belize US$45, Honduras US$43, Guatemala US$50 (included one week in language school), Costa Rica US$50, Nicaragua US$22, Panama US$75 (but included flight to San Blas Islands), Hawaii US$125.

These next costs are 4 years old, so have probably gone up a bit - India US$23, Tunisia US$43 France US$84, Czech Republic US$70 (but included some costs for two children), Hungary US$45, Ireland US$70 (included hire car, plus had some free accommodation), Iceland US$140 (even slept in a dormitory, or stayed in own room in hostels, and used kitchen - didn't eat out at all!), Brazil US$60 (and worth every cent - loved Brazil - stayed 10 weeks, but continually moved).

Hope that gives you some ideas about the countries you should be thinking about visiting to stay in the US$50 range.

Dianne in Sydney, but shortly going to Fiji