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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Planning an Exciting and Frugal Vacation Abroad

Destination: Lublin. Photo credit Lukaszprzy
I recently learned about a site called SkyScanner.com, which allows you to find cheap flights around the world. Unlike many price comparison websites where you need to put in a specific location and specific dates, SkyScanner lets you put in your departure location, and then from there on, it's flexible. You can pick a specific location or choose "Everywhere". You can choose specific dates, or you can ask it to show you the cheapest dates.
So of course I plugged in my location, and since I didn't have a specific location in mind, or a specific date, I just left those open... and found something that astounded me. Flights from my closest airport to Lublin, Poland, for 23 dollars each way. Yes. That is including taxes and fees and all that. Its a no frills airline, and it is only on specific dates, but I said that that is too amazing of a deal to pass up.
So I booked it.

From July 5-July 10 I will be on vacation in and around the general Lublin, Poland area.

Dom mansjonarski w Lublinie (2009-06-12)


I'm really excited about this! I have never done anything like it before.

I would travel with my husband but I had to pull teeth to get my husband to agree to come on a trip for our tenth wedding anniversary within our country, accessible by public transport. He's not interested in traveling abroad, and I have a travel bug, a desire to see the world, explore, and visit new places that I've never been to before. The only thing that has been holding me back has been money. (And the fact that my kids were little and needed me. But my littlest, Rose, is now 3 years and 3 months, hasn't nursed in nearly a year, so it's easier to find someone to watch her.) Instead of pushing my husband to do something outside his comfort zone, I'm just going to do this on my own. I did try to see if I could find some friends to join me on this trip, but I didn't find anyone, so it'll be a solo trip.

The ticket is cheap in part because it only includes hand luggage. I could pay more to have checked luggage, but it's not worth it for me, since the price of checked luggage would be twice what I paid for airfare. So I'll just take a carry on and bring the bare minimum- anything else I need, I'll get there.

Droga przez Lasy Kozłowieckie

I looked on Airbnb.com for accommodations in the area, and boy are they cheap! I found a beautiful looking place in a rural town called Jastkow, 11 kilometers from Lublin city center, for under 20 dollars a night.
I arranged transportation from the airport to the Airbnb for 11 dollars.

Now that I figured out where I'm going to be staying, I've started to plan an itinerary and the rest of the details.

Stawy w Dąbrówce

The Airbnb host provides a bicycle, and there is a beautiful park about a mile away and another one that is even bigger and more beautiful, with a castle in it, about 7.5 miles away.

0 Kozlowka 05

I'll play it by ear, see how the biking goes, and either bike to the closer park or the further park, or maybe just explore the general area. Its a gorgeous countryside- just looking at Google maps street view, I know I'd enjoy just biking through the countryside.
I'll probably spend a day or two just exploring the country side around Jastkow.

Stare Miasto w Lublinie - donżon na zamku

Then I'll go to Lublin (via bus, quite near where I'm staying) and explore the city, doing a walking tour, going to some museums and maybe the castle, again playing it by ear. Depending on how long I explore the country side, I'll spend either one or two days in Lublin.

Lublin Fontanna

I also plan on taking public transportation to one of the many historical towns/villages in the area, somewhere within an hours drive, and explore that area as well.

Kazimierz Dolny 097

I want to have fun but also relax, so I'm not doing a very detailed itinerary- my goal is go to there with a knowledge of things that are doable in the area, and then ask locals for their suggestions as well (sometimes the best places to visit as a tourist are places and events only locals know about, nothing you can find out from guidebooks or online), and then play it by ear.

Stawy w Dąbrówce

In terms of food, because of my various dietary restrictions, I won't be able to eat out much at restaurants- I found one place where I can eat and will probably eat there for some meals, but for the rest, I'm going to buy fresh produce from the grocery store as well as fish, and cook it at the Airbnb with a pot I'm bringing along from home. And who knows? I might end up doing a bit of foraging while I'm there.
The host of the Airbnb where I'm staying gave me this website with some average prices in Poland for groceries, so I can get the general idea of how much my groceries will cost me- fish is cheaper than it is locally, produce a little more but not so much more. Making food from scratch will be pretty frugal, and I'll make some quick meals and some travel friendly ones.

I still have time to plan the trip, but trying to take care of the main details now. I already ordered travel health insurance (very cheap fortunately; hopefully I won't need to use it, but better be safe than sorry)- it cost me 28 dollars and it also includes insurance on my computer and phone that I'll be bringing along.

I'll be honest- Poland had never been on my wish list of places to travel. My wish list includes South Africa, Korea, India, Thailand, Switzerland, and Italy... However, I love beauty, I love green, I love rivers and lakes and grass, and I never knew that that's what Poland is like, but it is. Beautiful. Just gorgeous.
If you want an enjoyable time, you need an open mind and maybe explore places that you hadn't planned, and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised, and have a great time without spending a lot. I'm sure this will be a great trip. And the weather there? Couldn't ask for better- its about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit on average in July. That's my ideal type of weather.

As for cost?

So far, for airfare, lodging, and travelers insurance I paid $165, and the rest that I spend is flexible. My goal is keep the total cost of my trip, including food, at under 300 dollars.

I'm really looking forward to this, especially since it is so affordable... As a homeschool mom, running a household and working part time, its honestly easy to get a little burnt out, as much as you love what you do. I'm hoping to come back from this trip refreshed and invigorated and with a lot more energy to take care of my family.

And as for the kids? They may not be coming on this trip with me, but this vacation is only one of two I'm taking this summer- we're planning on taking a 1.5-2 week camping trip with the whole family in our country in August as well.

P.S. All the pictures are from Wikimedia Commons, not my own. But they get me so excited to go, because it looks so picturesque!
P.P.S. No, this post wasn't sponsored by Skyscanner or anyone else, just shared something that I'm really excited about. Would be nice to get a kickback from Skyscanner or Airbnb for it, but alas, no....

Have you ever been on a solo trip abroad before? Any tips to give to a first timer? Ever been to Poland? Specifically Lublin? Any tips or must sees there?
Do you have any frugal trips planned this summer or in the near future? Where to? What are you doing to keep down the costs, if anything? What are your favorite frugal travel tips?


17 comments:

  1. Make sure you pick up a few Polish phrases before you go! Life is so much easier when they see you trying. There's a myth that everybody in Europe speaks English; even though I live in one of the countries where that is more likely to be the case I still find it easier to converse in the local language.

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  2. Looks gorgeous! And wow, the weather sounds incredible!! Good for you for giving yourself a break. Have fun!

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    1. I know, I think the weather is what appeals to me most of all!!!

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  3. Yay, that's such a bargain! Have a fun and relaxing holiday Penny.

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  4. How are you not scared to go by yourself?

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    1. In general I'm not a fearful person. I've also been in touch with some people in a female only travel group with discussions on how to keep safe while solo traveling. Not a big deal.

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  5. I highly recommend visiting Chełm (where I live ;)), it's close to Lublin http://www.itchelm.pl/2lang/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1&lang=en

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion- I was looking into it, but the only touristy information I could find was the chalk mine. Can you email me at pennilessparenting@yahoo.com? I'd love to pick your brain about what to do.

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  6. We were in an amazing salt mine outside of Krakow but don't remember the name of it or the town.don't know how far it is from Leblin.

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    1. Probably Wieliczka, about 300 kilometers from Lublin

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  7. Planning to visit Majdanek? It's right outside of Lublin.

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    1. I was considering it, but decided against it. I don't have enough time there, and if I did that, it would end up being a depressing trip, and I'm looking for uplifting, not depressing.

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    2. I do plan on going to some other holocaust related museums and such, but I think a concentration camp is a bit too much for me at this time.

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    3. I haven't completely nixed it though. It is on the list of possible places to go.

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  8. pretty pictures, my dad was from there, one aunt had a gorgeous rose maze, we picked petals to make jam, a kitten with sharp claws climbed up me

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  9. Who will watch your kids?

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  10. More power to you Penny for deciding to go on your own. We usually stay at AirBnBs when we travel - for convenience of food prep with a restricted diet. We enjoy experiencing local markets. Take a small pot and frypan. Sugat has small bags of mixed grains or rice which cook up in 10 minutes (you don't want to spend your precious time in the kitchen) We take crackers and asst. nuts with us, or a "trail mix". I also grill chicken breast or dark chicken, freeze it in serving portions and take it in an insulated bag in my luggage, it will stay frozen - then I just add it to the rice or grains.
    One more word of advice - get to your rental during daylight hours - it is no fun looking for an address in an unfamiliar village in the dark (from experience)

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