Make Your Travel Dollars worth a Fortune: the Contrarian Traveler’s Guide to Getting More for Less by Tim Leffel is a good beginner’s guide to finding deals to fit your own lifestyle and budget. Tim Leffel uses two imaginary families to make most of his points – a typical couple arranging a vacation – the Smith’s, and contrarian travelers extraordinaire – the Johnson’s.
The Smiths decide where they want to go and then find out when everyone else goes. Next, they arrange a trip using a flight and hotel-booking site. Since they go in high season when everything is at a premium, they end up in a characterless hotel far from the city center and spend a small fortune. They’re not in an area where they can easily walk to entertainment, restaurants and café’s, so they spend a lot of money on taxis, or eat meals in their hotel. They never manage to acquire a deep feeling of the place.
The Johnson’s take a different approach – instead of deciding exactly where they want to go, they keep their options open, scanning for deals on flights, etc. They almost always travel in shoulder season when flights and hotels cost much less and the area is much less crowded, but still beautiful. They stay in locally run inn’s and guest houses or rent an apartment, and use public transportation.
Their journey costs a fraction of what the Smith’s cost and they have a much more authentic experience: meeting local people and developing a real love for traveling. They can also afford to take more than one trip a year, because they spend far less. I liked the author’s way of using these families as examples to present his information instead of continually saying ‘I’d do it like this…’
I’d recommend this book to people who haven’t traveled much outside of package tours, aren’t natural bargain hunters, and haven’t planned trips on their own. But for those of you who’ve ever donned a backpack and set out on your own, there’s probably not alot this book can offer you. I didn’t feel like I really learned much that was new, but at the same time I had a list of people in my head that I thought the book would be perfect for. So if you’re just starting out on your independent traveling life, perhaps this book is for you.
Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: the Contrarian Traveler’s Guide to Getting More for Less by Tim Leffel, Travelers’ Tales, 2006, $12.95.
©Christina Kay Bolton