Saturday, December 2, 2017

Preparations For My Super Cheap Trip to Belgium

I'm writing this post from my phone so apologies if the formatting is messed up, there's only so much I can do on my phone.

I am currently on the bus on the way to the airport leaving to Brussels, Belgium. I didn't mention in my last post on the topic that I got insanely cheap tickets to Belgium specifically because I was flying from the boonies. Insane boonies. As in I have to leave now on the bus to be able to get to a far away city so that I can double back and take a bus to the airport from there. This, of course, adds an extra cost to my journey, and I've included those costs in the total tally for my trip. 
My bus to this far away city cost me $20 and the next bus should cost $5.70. I could have purchased a round trip ticket to this city for $35 but most likely on the way home from the airport I won't need to go to this far away city but can take a bus more directly home so I didn't want to book a round trip tickets. 

I wanted to share the things I've done thus far to prepare for my trip and keep down the costs. 

As I mentioned in my previous post on my trip, I didn't pay for checked luggage because that adds a tremendous cost to the airfare. Better spend more money there than pay more to bring more things. Only tonight, though, as I was finishing up my last minute packing did I take a closer look at the luggage allowance and saw that it was smaller luggage than allowed as carry on on my cheap flight with Lot airlines to Poland. Most curiously though they allow a suitcase within certain dimensions and a personal bag /laptop case with such small dimensions that my laptop itself wouldn't fit those dimensions. So I had to go run around measuring bags to see what I had that actually fit those scant dimensions and I found one of my husband's tool bags. So that's what I took and transfered the laptop into my carry on small suitcase which I weighed many times to make sure it fit the allotted 10 kg weight limit. 

Inside my bags I packed a few things to keep the costs of my trip down. Most important for me, more than anything else, was the ability to eat cheaply there. Since I knew proteins would be an issue for me, I prepared a few types of chicken and fish jerky using what I had in the house already and will share the recipes for them either within the next few days or when I get back. I also made some banana pumpkin leather, again using groceries I anyhow had in the house. I brought some lightweight quick cooking rice noodles, a pot, chestnuts, and gluten free crackers. The noodles and crackers I did buy for this trip itself but I'm not counting them as trip expenses as they were part of my regular grocery budget which I actually kept super low this month, only $470. By bringing these things along, it means that my food on this trip shouldn't cost me too much... In the past I've gotten criticism from people that I'm such a cheapskate for not going out to eat on vacation but honestly with such strict dietary restrictions it's not worth it for me to go out to eat. And anyhow I'd rather eat like a cheapskate and travel like a cheapskate and be able to go on trips more often than travel a little more richly and travel less frequently. 
Because my bag is filled with food, that doesn't leave too much weight for clothes. And in Belgium it is supposed to be quite cold while I'm there and most of the things I have scheduled are free walking tours so I'll be outdoors a lot and warm clothing is extra important. For that reason I decided to layer up in my bulkiest heaviest winter clothes to wear on the flight there (two pairs of leggings and sweat pants, a wool skirt, three sweaters, and a winter coat and winter boots) instead of sticking them in my bag. I know, super cheapskate but whatever. 

Other preparations I made before I went was getting health insurance. I didn't go with the cheapest ones which require you laying out money if there are medical expenses and then they pay you back, because that happened when I was in the US and needed to go to the ER and I had to front money I didn't have to get paid back by insurance. I decided it was smarter financially to pay more and go with the company that gives me a debit card for health insurance that they fill up as needed and you never have to pay cash. I think that cost me 17 dollars for the trip but will verify that. 

Last trip I flubbed up a few ways and learned my lesson so I wouldn't have any more costly mistakes. I hadn't thought about the fact that I'd have to get to the airport in the middle of the night for my early morning flight and ended up paying for extra nights at my airbnb and in the end I spent the last night in the airport. This time I checked in advance and decided to spend the last night in the airport for the same reason so that is keeping my costs down. 

I have friends and blog readers in Rotterdam,  Holland and Lille, France who offered me free lodging if I went there but the cost of transportation there would cost more then my lodging in Brussels so I passed up their generous offers (though am a bit sad that I won't get to see /meet them like I met a blog reader in Lublin, Poland when I was there. 

Since my flight to Brussels is actually to Charleroi
Airport and not Brussels itself I have to find a way to get to the city itself and trains were 30 euro round trip, more than my flight to Brussels... I found and booked a ride with Blablacar, a ride sharing program like Uber for 5 Euros instead. I'll let you know how that goes.

I also paid for a cell phone plan that includes 5 gigsbytes of data because while in Poland I ran out of data and was stuck. 5 gigabytes should be more than enough and will allow me to speak to anyone and call them via the internet and apps like whatsapp so I don't need to make and receive calls which cost a lot of money even with an international Sim. I considered buying a Sim there but was warned that due to terror foreigners can't buy Sim cards and I didn't want to take a chance and be stuck.

For my family to eat while I'm away I cooked and prepared enough meals for my family for every day that I'm gone, no need to cook just warm. No need for take out for them, I made it all already.

Lastly I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to the various relatives of mine that are taking care of my kids while I'm gone while my husband is at work crazy hours so ensure that I'll be able to do this. Even more gratitude that they wouldn't let me pay them for this.

Anyhow, on the bus now I met someone who also is taking advantage of Ryanairs cheap flights and is on the same flight to Brussels with me and she mentioned couch surfing, where you can stay at people's houses free while traveling and I think I'll look into it more especially as it can make traveling that much more affordable.

It's getting late and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow so I'll try to get some shut eye now on the bus. Wish me luck that the next part of my journey goes smoothly, with no delays.


  1. Have a wonderful, safe and healthy experience!

  2. Enjoy, safe and sound. Take lots of pictures and post them of course.

  3. I hope your trip is wonderful! Can't wait to hear about it.


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