Matt Gross in transit.
Like many people these days, I’d love to travel more often, but can’t afford to. Instead, I sometimes live vicariously through the exploits of Matt Gross, known as the Frugal Traveler at The New York Times. For the past few summers, Gross has hit the road, blogging and writing feature articles about his treks across the United States and Europe. This summer, we got to watch Gross’s exploits in video features—for example, working on an organic farm in Southwestern France. It’s tough not to envy this guy. He’s young, and he’s making a living out on the road, meeting new people and absorbing foreign culture.
Last week, at Idlewild Books near Union Square in New York City, Gross gave a talk about his Grand Tour of Europe, revealing a few frugal traveling tips he’s picked up, and discussing the pressures of being a travel writer, particularly having to come up with a “lesson-learned” to impart to readers at the conclusion of each jaunt.
Luckily for most of us, when we travel, we’re free to draw our own conclusions and learn our own lessons without worrying how they’ll be accepted by anyone else. As for saving money, we can all learn a few things from Matt Gross.
Lesson #1: Get a Capital One credit card before going abroad. The bank does not charge extra fees for overseas ATM withdrawals or credit card purchases.
Lesson #2: In Italy, try convent accommodations to save money. There may be a curfew, but you’ll have enough extra cash for a nice dinner before you hit the hay.
Lesson #3: Plan ahead. This sounds obvious, but in the rush to get away, vacationers sometimes neglect pre-trip research. Gross advises even travelers on weekend getaways to find out about activities, such as free museums or outdoor sports, in the cities or towns they plan to visit.