Budget Travel Quiz
There is a fun travel quiz in a recent Frugal Traveler column in the New York Times. The reference is www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/travel/test-your-budget-travel-instincts.html?ref=frugaltraveler.
Even if you don't get many answers right, and I didn't either, you can learn a lot about current realities of budget travel. One question is about the cheapest and most expensive centrally-located hostels in the following locations: Tokyo, Cancun, New York, Oslo and Phuket. It turns out that Phuket is the least expensive, Oslo the most costly.
Another question is about the cheapest Big Mac in the world, which turns out to be in New Delhi. The author remarks that you shouldn't be eating at McDonalds abroad. but that's just his opinion. I never eat at McDonalds in North America except sometimes while travelling by car at an interstate rest stop, but I find the chain curiously comforting when I am in places like Russias and Ukraine. You can be assured at least of decent rest rooms.
A question about Asian currencies informs you that four out the five mentioned have gained value against the U.S. dollar recently, while the one that did not, Vietnamese currency, conceals a high inflation rate in that country. So virtually everywhere in Southeast Asia is more costly than it used to be for Americans.
Another topic is the entrance fees charged to Americans in some South American countries. They run as high as $160, and point up the fact that South America is a very interesting but not necessarily cheap destination. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are among the countries where costs can approximate those in North America. For real budget travel, you are better off heading to Central America.
Similarly, Scandinavia is a high cost area. Finland may be a little cheaper than the other countries, and Norway is usually the most expensive. You will get more for your money in southern Europe. And big cities such as New York, London, Paris and Tokyo tend to be much more costly than small towns in their coutries.
You will want to spend some time in places like these, but getting out into the country will make your dollars stretch a lot further. And if you enjoy meeting the locals and speaking foreign languages, it is a lot easier to do (and sometimes required) in places that are not the usual tourist haunts.