Friday, September 26, 2014

When to Splurge

We all like to save money on travel, but there are times when it may be worthwhile to splurge a little. That is the theme of a column in the Seattle Times by well-known budget travel expert Rick Steves. If you live in North America you have probably seen Steves on public television, or you may have read one of his guidebooks.

Steves is the kind of travel writer most of the rest of us envy. He has a pleasant personality (or at least seems to on TV,) good ideas and has become a one-man corporation with books, tours, radio and television shows among his other endeavours. He also seems to have unlimited energy.

However, like the rest of us he is getting older and realising that just as money is a limited resource, so it time. Therefore, it is possible to justify the occasional indulgence such as a gondola ride in Venice or a private walking tour with an experienced guide in any city.

 I agree, and I have splurged from time to time myself when on the road. Once in Cairo I hired a taxi to take me to the step pyramids at Sakkhara, where I was able to walk around on my own early one morning. There didn't seem to be any organised tours, and I really wanted to see these monuments.

Another time, also in Cairo, I dined with some fellow travellers at a wonderful Indian restaurant at the Mena House Hotel. I can still remember the taste of the sea bass. When I was in Prague I joined a Norwegian woman I met on a tour for dinner in an elegant hotel dining room.  Even in that grey Communist city the room looked as if it had changed little since 1910.

More recently, when I was returning from Moscow on United Airlines ( I paid extra for an economy seat with more leg room and ended up meeting an interesting young woman whose father lives in Moscow and who attended my graduate school. That was a wonderful flight, with a great view of the almost endless mountains of Greenland.

Of course, the best kind of splurge is the one that doesn't cost much. An offer on transAtlantic sailings of the Queen Mary 2 from Cunard ( falls into that category. If you book by Oct. 10 for sailings in November, the per person rate for the best available cabin is as low as $599.

I tried to add the link for the story by Rick Steves, but it doesn't seem to work. On another topic, if you are interested in the future of blogging (and who isn't?) check out a story in the New York Times and my comment on it at


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