Cheapo Travel: Do these free things to improve your trip

You can stay at five-star hotels or you can camp in the dirt, spend like a millionaire or scrimp like a backpacker.

But there are certain things you can do to improve your travel experience, and they won’t cost you one dime.

Here’s my best advice, gleaned from decades of experience on both sides of the fence:

1. Stop rushing around.

If you have crammed your schedule too full, you might see the sights but miss the country.

I once traveled to England with some folks who insisted on “knocking out” tourist landmarks as if they were punch cards, to the point that I just refused to go anywhere with them anymore. They planned to visit the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace in the same day, even after I explained that they were geographically many miles apart. And that the Tower was so fascinating it could take hours to explore. They refused to listen to me, and actually had to leave in the middle of the Beefeater’s mesmerizing tour to make it to Hampton Court, where they were also rushed because it was so late.

Don’t do this. It’s not worth it.

2. Allow time for

serendipity.

I admit I tend to be a scheduler when I travel, but you need to build in enough time so that you can take advantage of butterflies when they land on your shoulder.

On the aforementioned trip with my annoying friends, I went by myself to Windsor Castle, where the queen lives for part of the year. While I was there, I saw a small notice that the public was welcome to attend the evensong performance at 5 p.m. in St. George’s Chapel, by entering a small gate outside the main palace grounds. I’d never been to an evensong before, but the medieval chapel we’re talking about belonged to Henry VIII, so I was interested, and had the time. I came back at 5 p.m. and found myself inside the chapel, where we were directed to sit in the stalls of the Knights of the Garter. Yes, I actually sat in one of the legendary carved stalls, while the chapel’s private boys’…

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