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Self-inflicted travel regrets (being a cheapskate)

One thing I like doing is going back and reading reviews of places I’ve been so I can see opinions through other’s eyes. Yesterday I did that with the Pont du Gard in France and was surprised about reviews giving it 1-star even though they never bothered to see it. The theme of many complaints was they got there, saw the price so turned around and left, but then complained about their time being wasted. That seems like a self-inflicted way to ruin a trip and I wonder if that type of person ever sees anything.

I’ll assume nobody on this forum owns a yacht or a private plane and that we all have some kind of budget that limits us to varying degrees of just what our dream trip can be for us. But I’m curious if any cheapskate DNA you have in you has ever been enough to ruin your trip?

Posted by
3789 posts

The example provided sounds more to me of people just blindly following a 'must do' list without planning ahead and reviewing their personal investment. There is a new bridge in Vietnam....golden hands holding a pedestrian walkway over a precipice. It gets lots of Instagram and 'must see' moments. As I hoped to be there in 2022, I wanted to figure out how to get there. Turns out it is part of a theme park - a big theme park. It has a $50+US entry fee and a second fee to walk the bridge. I will give it a pass thanks. With transport it isn't worth US$100 for a cool walking experience. It won't ruin my trip. I am a cheapskate, and there are occasional losses of money I couldn't control, but they were small and didn't really ruin my time. I have other priorities today that I think are taking any brain recall, but I can't think of anything specific where I actually walked away or begrudged payment of something; and things don't ruin my vacation. However, I know that I pay more in effort and energy to make things happen in my budget as I don't yet agree to let someone else do the logistics and 'entertainment'. Maybe if it have a taste for cooking classes, private guides or business class flights; and I can't afford them - then that would put a different picture on things.

Posted by
6315 posts

I've skipped a lot of sights on my trips because of cost, but I never regretted doing it and it never ruined a trip. If I thought not seeing something would ruin my trip I would splurge for whatever it costs (within reason of course, I'm not a moneybags). I certainly wouldn't spend the time and money to go to Europe and then skimp on spending for a sight that was important to me. I will say that I have been disappointed a time or two to find out there was an admission charge to something I wanted to see that I wasn't aware had a charge, but I bit the bullet and paid because it was important to me.

And by the way, I didn't know there was an admission charge just to see the Pont du Gard. I know I paid fee to park in the lot. But I thought it was only the museum that had a charge. You used to be able to skip the museum if you wanted to and just walk to the bridge. Is that not the case anymore?

Posted by
3894 posts

There are some things I've skipped because of the cost - but it's usually been in a place I know I'll return to, and someday I won't be such a cheapskate...eg - St Pauls in London - we hit London every trip - so the next one may just be the one when we finally go in - it doesn't help that our Canadian dollar sucks so bad against the pound, and I've already seen so many churches for free.

But let me tell you - one thing I did pony up for and man - I had a hard time doing it - was to pay for a private driver for the day on the Amalfi coast - it was something like 300euro (maybe more, maybe a little less - it was 2014, so fuzzy memory). But when I thought about 8 hrs of time, divided by 3 people, it wasn't that expensive - and it turned out to be my mother's favourite day of her Italy trip with us, so it ended up being very worth it.

I know probably a few times we stayed more on the edges of a big city to save on accom costs, but regretted the time spent commuting back and forth - so I try to make sure we stay quite centrally now, generally.

Posted by
1213 posts

I just went to the Pont du Gard website and it says there is a 9.50 Euro "Site Admission Fee".

Edit: There was a note that parking in included in the admission fee.

Posted by
1750 posts

Right out of college in 1972 we took practically our entire lives’ savings and did nearly 3 months with Europe on $5 A Day tucked in our pockets. In Paris I looked at a $2.50 stainless steel bracelet for days but couldn’t justify the exorbitant price and eventually left without it. I regretted it immediately and never forgot that dumb bracelet. Two years later Mom and Dad planned a trip to Israel and I lobbied hard for how they couldn’t possibly go to Europe without seeing Paris, and when they agreed, just casually mentioned, “Oh, and if you happen to see…”. They brought it back for me. I felt guilty about that for a long time. On that same trip we opted to pass on the Jungfrau train because it cost maybe $24, but there were no regrets…that was just crazy! Today I think it’s close to $200. We are reminiscing right now, and he fondly remembers the first Cokes we eventually got in Greece because they were 8¢ apiece.

Posted by
70 posts

Never had a single regret, but I also never skip a site or attraction of interest because of an entrance fee. If I wanted to see or do something, I have always paid the price, which in the scheme of things (like the overall cost of the trip), an admission fee is insignificant. I budget liberally for those things, and also for food.

In the example given (someone not seeing Pont du Gard because of an admission / parking fee), to have made that decision, they had already rented a vehicle and burned the gasoline to tour the area, at a cost of upwards $100 a day. I mean, that is kind or nutty to drive to the site and leave in a huff like that - you already spent a significant amount of money to get to the front door, why would you not pay the fee at that point?

Posted by
5880 posts

My first few trips anywhere (alone) in my early 20s, I was very reluctant to spend money on food, transportation and entry to non-free sights. If it wasn't close enough to walk to, I wouldn't go. My reasoning was that the more money I saved, the sooner I could travel again. It didn't ruin trips, but I see now that I missed a lot.

Posted by
9592 posts

If it's something I want to do or see, I'll pay the price. I won't pay the price to see something I don't want to see just because "everyone says I must see it/do it."

Example......I have been to Iceland three times yet I have never been to the Blue Lagoon. I have absolutely no desire to go there. Others, love it. But that's not a reason to go nor spend the money. I'd rather spend it on something I would enjoy.

What I have learned is not to book the cheapest room in some of those little hotels. I've done that in the past and some have been horrible.

Posted by
2758 posts

I couldn't think of anything but there is one thing for which feel strongly about spending more : except in places like London that are spread out and have great public transportation, it's always worth the money to stay in the center of things you want to see. My husband and I had this fight about our hotel in Vienna-he wanted to stay at Hiltons because they're free with points but I insisted on staying at one of the places Rick recommends that's walking distance to everything. After we'd been there a day, my husband agreed my choice was better.

Posted by
2266 posts

My one "cheapskate" regret is also Vienna-related. We heard a magnificent production of Don Giovanni at the Vienna Opera House, and saw about half of it from our cheap seats. I wish we had spent a few more Euros for really good seats - that were actually available when I bought our tickets.

Posted by
2017 posts

We usually will pay to see something that interests us but have travelled with people who won’t. That is so annoying. Nothing worse then a couple you are traveling with who says, you go on in, or you take that walking tour, we’ll wait for you. Wait, I don’t think so. We’ll meet you later at the hotel or such and such a place.

Posted by
11259 posts

In Rio de Janeiro, I might have had a slightly less horrible time if I had splurged on a better hotel. It wouldn't have changed the city itself, but it would have given me a pleasant refuge. Instead, my Rio hotel was a cheapie, the kind that's suitable only for sleeping and changing clothes. That works fine in a place I like (say, Paris or Tokyo), but not in a place where I'm feeling beleaguered and need a respite.

I used to take pride in almost never taking taxis. Now I realize that this is a false economy. If I'm arriving in a new city, don't know where things are, carrying luggage, and/or jet lagged, I now "splurge" for a taxi on arrival (and sometimes on departure). It gets the city off to a much better start. Once I've gotten rid of the luggage, I can explore on foot or by mass transit much more easily and comfortably.

I'm sure there are things I didn't do because they seemed too expensive, that I would have felt were worth the money (the exact question you asked). The catch is, if I didn't experience them, I can't know that not doing them was a mistake.

Posted by
2017 posts

Cala, I agree with you and it is an argument we have often. Yes, my husband works for Hilton and gets a great discount, but sometime their properties are not in the best location. Especially if we are only staying one or two nights. When we were in Amsterdam the Hilton was 3 or 4 train stops out from the city center, but we were staying for 9 nights so the savings were substantial, I agreed then.

Posted by
1083 posts

I am the ultimate cheapskate and love a good deal BUT with that being said we never skimp on memorable experiences. But i also do my research and know how much entry fees are and when things are open/closed. I remember a friend told me she was so excited to go to Paris to see the Louvre or the Eiffel tower, can't remember which, and she was in tears because on the one day they had open the place was closed. That is sooo easy to research and such a shame.
My one travel regret was one night taking the Metro in Paris at Midnight instead of listening to my husband who wanted to take a Taxi, but since we already had our week pass for the Metro I thought why spend more money? The night did not go well at all...it was a scary night. It did not ruin our trip but was tense and caused unneeded anxiety and some "I told you" so's

Posted by
2758 posts

Totally agree with Harold about taxis when arriving in town with luggage-its definitely worth it to us to do that.

Posted by
1606 posts

Similar to Harold above, I usually consider taxis to be cheating if there is a transit system, but getting off a plane with jet lag and other disorientation is a moment where I now allow a little cheating, ha.

On a final night of a trip in Rome, I convinced myself that I just wanted to use up what Euros I had on me and not go to an ATM or add to my credit card since I was leaving very early the next morning, so I went into a budget/dive cafe north of the Flaminio metro station and ordered the formule, which was microwaved dreck by anyone's standard, and was crowded in with German tourists.

Learned my lesson - end your trip on a high note, not a whimper. Now I keep my eye out for a more special spot to wrap up the end of a visit. Might not be the actual last meal but the penultimate before heading to the airport, but it's now a better pick for sure.

Posted by
1902 posts

I have no regrets related to not being willing to spend money on an experience I’m interested in. I am on board with things like buying opera tickets to Rigoletto in the Vienna State Opera House or tickets for a pasta cooking class in Rome. The money was worth it! This is why I travel, to have the experiences I have dreamed of. I economize at home by driving an old car and turning off lights when I leave a room or keeping the thermostat higher in the very hot Atlanta summers.

I traveled with a dear friend who is very frugal and who waited in the museum lobby while I went through the special paid exhibition at the National Gallery in London. I could not believe she wouldn’t spend 18£ for a ticket! She likes art so it’s not that. It feels odd because we couldn’t share the experience.
One time upon arrival in Paris from CDG, I took the very inexpensive Roissy bus to the Opera Garnier where I was supposed to find a taxi stand. After an overnight flight, I was cottonheaded and couldn’t find the taxi stand and the sidewalks were so crowded, seeing the taxi stand was impossible anyway. A young man came by and helped me by flagging down a taxi driving by. He was so kind and I fell into that cab and vowed I would never try to do that again after an overnight flight! All to save a few Euros, it’s not worth it to me. I now include taxis in my trip planning.
My main travel regret is not starting when I was young, I had travel dreams even back in my youth. I so admire young people who become travelers. I always thought I couldn’t afford it but didn’t realize you have to make it happen. Now I do realize it I am making it happen.

Posted by
2484 posts

If there’s something I really want to see I will pay any admission fee, within reason. If it’s a “maybe” type of sight, then price matters more. So I have skipped some sights due to cost, but they were all ones I was ok giving up. I suppose it’s possible that if I had gone I’d love them and have some wonderful experience. If so, skipping them would be a regret - but there’s no way to know!

My bigger travel regrets are around time/effort. Skipping a day trip because it’s hard (get up early, long train, late return) , and instead having a 4th day in a city I don’t love. In retrospect should have taken the opportunity to see something new. Skipping a hike because it’s hot and I’m tired when really I would have liked the hike better than what I did instead. That kind of thing. I’m big on “leaving time for spontenaity”, “not rushing around”, and “taking care of yourself” and I stand by that - but sometimes it can go too far.

Posted by
4796 posts

A real cheapskate won’t travel, and won’t see sights. No regrets, no disappointments, but then no new experiences, either. They won’t know what they missed, so won’t have a reference to determine a loss or gain, except they’ve still got their money. Maybe cash is piece of mind, and worth every cent.

Posted by
5172 posts

I am not cheap, but I am frugal. I do not recall many regrets in many trips, except regarding things I may have missed due to lack of knowing, or logistics.

That said, yeah, there are lots of things I have passed on due to costs, guides at some sights, the London Eye, a few museums, most pricey climbs up a tower, the list goes on. It is also not just cost, if it is going to waste time standing in long lines, I'll skip it, I would rather find a nice cafe and have a wine or a beer.

However, if it is something high on my interest list, I have no problem forking over the cash.

In retrospect, now that I think of it, I do regret not splurging on more fantastic meals.

Posted by
181 posts

I also agree with Harold about taking a taxi for the convenience. Totally worth it.
Also good: Once I ordered a car to take me from Heathrow to central London instead of
taking a cab. Paid in advance with tip so I wouldn't have to deal with money under jet lag.

I have been stuck in London traffic several times in a cab so I know that stresses me out.

On one trip I took my 20-year-old Samsonite. I figured I didn't need to spend on new, better luggage since it was still in good shape. (Found out I wasn't!)
Not on cobblestones, broken sidewalks. Ruined my wrists. Medical and physical therapy bills...could have bought a brand new suitcase!

Posted by
432 posts

My travel budget expands to see and do the things we want to do. This occurs sometimes in advance and sometimes on the spot. Nothing has EVER ruined a trip, but sometimes the rudeness of some people seriously pushing and shoving to get on or off a ferry or train or to the front of a line gets to me.

Posted by
111 posts

@Bob, Re: Pont du Gard: Back in 2017 a group of us were on a bike tour through Provence and the first day took us from Avignon to Mazan via Pont du Gard. When we reached the parking lot at Pont du Gard the attendant shooed us out, directing us to the bike/pedestrian path. There was no admission gate or checkpoint on the path. There was no signage, no place to pay for entry. So we just rode in, stopped for some snapshots, and rode our bikes over the Pont du Gard (how cool was that!).

On the other side we stopped briefly at a plaza and there was an info center with facilities. I proceeded to the mens, and the ladies to their side. Everything was fine until the last lady was caught coming out, and shooed away by an attendant calling out "NO TOILETTE! NO TOILETTE!"

We got back on our bikes and proceeded out to the road and were on our way, shaking our heads and laughing a bit. We never did understand what the issue was. Apparently we were supposed to pay someplace(?).

(Our hotel that night and the following was was formerly a house owned by the Marquis de Sade. Benedict Cumberbatch was filming in the area and staying in the same hotel, but we never saw him.)

Posted by
3317 posts

I wonder if sometimes we don’t know what we have missed and are none the wiser that our choices have negatively impacted our experience.

Posted by
1264 posts

Years ago in savannah Georgia in june we did the 1pm River cruise because it was so much cheaper than the sunset one. Which meant we were trapped on a hot boat without a breath of breeze in the blazing sun and water available for 8 dollars a bottle ..... I think the sunset cruise was only $10 cheaper

Posted by
1817 posts

I have to thank my wife for breaking me of my tight fisted ways. There was a time when I was younger that I would have done a limbo underneath a pay toilet door just to save 10 cents. My wife is my polar opposite when it comes to spending and she gradually eased me into spending on things that meant a lot to me. Once it awhile that frugality still flares up and I have to bat it down. I've always wanted to see the Lascaux Caves, and I knew I'd finally get an opportunity on an RS tour a couple of years ago when we'd be staying in Sarlat. It wasn't on our itinerary, but our guide told me she'd arrange it for me and I jumped at it. But then I fretted for days about how much it might cost and I kept on going back and forth in my mind if I should go. My wife told me I was going no matter the cost. As usual she knew best and I'm grateful because that would have been a massive regret if I hadn't gone.

Posted by
1020 posts

Avi, I love the tip on a special wrap up spot. I am only now starting to think of that. :) And Cyn - a real cheapskate won’t travel - so true!

I have skipped and saved money in the past or made decisions I would make differently. But my decisions were always made for a reason at the time, so no regrets in hindsight.

Posted by
1817 posts

And Cyn - a real cheapskate won’t travel - so true!

I'm going to challenge that one.

My first European adventure in 2014, we were on a shuttle bus from our cruise ship to Rome where we were staying for a week. We started talking to an older couple who were on the same cruise and were spending some time in Rome afterwards as well. We were staying in Trastevere but they were heading to a hotel closer to the airport. I asked why and he said because hotels were cheaper there and they'd just take the train into Rome everyday. He then preceded to brag (in my opinion) on how much money he saves on these trips and told me the previous year that they stayed in a hotel near Heathrow for the same reason and trained in everyday. "cheaper breakfast buffets at airport hotels" he said.

Posted by
759 posts

Once and only once, in an indirect way. My wife and I were playing tour guide in London with a couple we have known for decades (he is a perfect Jack Benny- has money just won’t spend it). We were in Greenwich and there was the Cutty Sark. So hey, let’s go see it. He balks- not paying (maybe 10-12 Pounds each) to walk on a ship deck. I expected the answer and said I’m paying for everyone. My mistake as that made him look even cheaper in front of the group. He really digs in on No. My wife senses trouble and suggests we do something else and see the Cutty Sark later, after lunch (face saving for all). Well of course we don’t go back after lunch…off to other sites. The following year they had the ship fire. While much of the ship was saved/restored—it is still not the same. Some sense of walking through history (something I love) has been lost. My wife and I have since come to an understanding- if I want to see it, we see it; others in the group can stuff it.

Posted by
1572 posts

This brought a memory! We were celebrating our 30th anniversary with a trip to St. Andrews via train from London after a long overseas flight. The second-class fare seemed much more reasonable than the first class fare. After being stuffed in a seat on a packed train for what felt like 5 hours to Edinburgh, my husband (with a bad knee) was ready to call the marriage right there. I’ve never had trouble getting him to spend money on accommodations since.

Posted by
3521 posts

Letizia's story about taking the Paris Metro late at night rather than a taxi reminded me of an opposite choice we made late after a Seine dinner cruise. We chose to walk over to the taxi stand in the rain and take a taxi back to our hotel rather than take the Metro. I was concerned about the cost, but I shouldn't have been.

That taxi ride turned out to be one of the most visually interesting and atmospheric experiences I've ever had. The wet streets were reflecting the lights everywhere we looked. The wet weather made the lights themselves misty. It felt like we were gliding on the streets and I don't drink, so don't think alcohol affected my perception. To me it was so romantic and so very Parisian.

Posted by
1197 posts

I can't really recall an example, though probably in our early travels it would be over meals. Now I'll pay for the food I want to eat.

I tend to worry about the costs, but DH always says once we are there, if we want to see it, do it, or eat it, we will -- and figure out paying the bills when we get home. And we're not bankrupt yet!

Posted by
1817 posts

My wife and I have since come to an understanding- if I want to see
it, we see it; others in the group can stuff it.

We've got a couple of friends that have dropped hints about wanting to join us sometime, however when it comes to vacations I'm very selfish about what is important to me and my wife and I'm not sure how well I'd play with others. I'm sure I'd need to sit them down even before we agreed and come up with agreement on what we'll spend, want to see and agreements that if we can't agree it's OK to do separate things some days.

With my vacation pace I'm not sure if my friends would remain my friends if we vacationed together.

Posted by
3894 posts

Now I'm remembering back to the before times (before making reservations online was a big thing - when we'd still wing it) - back in the late 90s early 00's - when hubs and I would go camping. We stayed in a campground outside Toronto - on Canada Day weekend - not a brilliant idea. It came complete with drunken partiers, who finally decided to shut up - fifteen minutes before a huge thunder and lightning storm around 3am. Then a few nights later in upstate NY - for 4th of July. (facepalm)

I also shut the trunk on the air bed in Niagara Falls, putting a hole in it, and we killed the car battery at that campground in NY trying to set our tent up in the woods at dusk. We also had no American cash on us and thankfully the guy took our Canadian $20.

Let's just say, our camping days were behind us after that trip - especially when we were coming home thru Maine and the hotels/B&B's were cheaper than a couple of the campgrounds we stayed at, and taking Canadian cash at par. We were camping mostly because it was cheaper - about 80% it was cheaper, 20% we liked to tent. The tent and everything got sold.

Posted by
1817 posts

We were camping mostly because it was cheaper - about 80% it was
cheaper, 20% we liked to tent. The tent and everything got sold.

Back in our younger days we had a group of friends who loved "camping." They owned 20-30' trailers or RV's, quads and motorcycles, all this on top of their mortgages. But they could never figure out how we could afford wonderful vacations to new places but they couldn't.

Posted by
3894 posts

Allan - at times I'm tempted to rent an RV and go for a month, heading west - and maybe someday we will...

A lot of homes on our street have RV's and 5th wheels, snowmobiles or ATV's, mostly the younger families. To each their own...it is great they can make memories with their young children. I still rem when me, my younger sis, mom, aunt and grandpa went to Ontario in my gramps RV back in...prob 1980 or something like that.

But because we lived within our means, we are now retired at 55 (he retired at 54) and 47. Our relationship has been revitalized and we get along so much better now that he's not work cranky all the time. Now, let's get covid over so we can travel again! It was like...he finally retired...oh look - a month later - covid! Bwahahaha.

Posted by
1750 posts

After I posted above about that bracelet from Paris, I spent the next two days tearing through this house and I found it. What was once a souvenir of Paris is now a much sweeter remembrance of Mom and Dad. Being a cheapskate can have its advantages.

Posted by
1264 posts

Denny, good for you.

Nicole.... it will happen, Patience, Grasshopper