Palestine, Israel & Jordan
Sadly, my last spring break of my educational journey was around the corner with college coming to a close. I knew two things when it arrived. First off, I would never in Dante’s Inferno go back to school. Secondly, I was definitely going to spend my last free break, before real life kicked in, by traveling somewhere abroad. I had travel points available and the search for tickets began. From the 3 world wonders I had left to see, the cheapest ticket was to Amman, Jordan to visit Petra. Just like that, the destination was decided.
Now for the crew. “I’m down” my sister said before I even asked. Must be a twin thing. Mama bear found out and said: “Isn’t Jerusalem next door? I’m in.”
“Yes it is. We’ll squeeze it in.”
I quickly worked out a plan of where we would go, and how we would get there. I’ll skip the planning for this post so we can focus on the actual costs of the trip. I wrote down every single shekel, dinar and dollar spent on this adventure to show you that traveling to the other side of the world is definitely possible on a budget.
For less than $1,000 (including airfare) I explored Amman, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Masada, the Dead Sea, accidentally ended up in Jericho, and saw my 5th world wonder: Petra. Let’s dive right into the second of the two absolute truths in today’s society: numbers. Shall we?
Total travel costs for 3 people: $3,894
Total travel costs per traveler
Outside of my sister paying full price for airfare, our costs are pretty much the same. My mom did have a couple of unplanned expenses due to travel mistakes which is why you should always plan to have at least $500 in emergency money. Let’s break down my costs:
Airfare Round Trip (with points): $358
The 8 day round trip ticket to and from Amman, Jordan & New York City, U.S.A. respectively in April 2013 cost: $800. My points were worth $442 which knocked down the most expensive cost of any trip by 55%!
The 4 largest bus fare costs that were over $10 each, totaling to $62, were the following:
Jett Bus from Amman to Petra round trip: $28
Jerusalem to Masada bus: $12
Dead Sea to Jerusalem bus: $11
Combi to Jerusalem from the King Hussein Bridge border: $11
Some people spend easily over $50 per person when taking cabs to touristic destinations instead of taking a bus or other form of public transportation that is really easy and much cheaper. Cabs can be cheap when you are many but usually public transportation is the cheapest way to go.
Average Spent on Transportation per day (excl. airfare): $17
We spent the morning of the 23rd crossing the King Hussein bridge back to Jordan from Palestine and explored a little more of Amman. Keep in mind however, we had an overnight flight back to the U.S. so we didn’t spend any money on accommodations that night. Also, we ended up in Jericho because of a travel mistake and took the first reasonable place we found to spend the night which was a hotel. This turned out to be a good experience where we met wonderful people. I’ll write about travel mistakes in a future blog post.
Total spent for 7 nights on Hostels/Hotel: $143
Average Night at the Hostel/Hotel: $20
You should never trade quality for a lower price. Your health has no price. That being said, it doesn’t mean you need to eat at a 5 star restaurant every night (or any night). My recommendation is to go to the local market (farmer’s market) or to a shop keeper and ask them a simple question: “Where do you eat?” They will almost always point you to the place where you can get the most for your buck without sacrificing quality.
The hostel we stayed at in Israel had free breakfast which you better believe I made last almost all day. Apples & bananas to go with the combo of sharing meals with my sis and mom made our daily food expense quite small.
Total spent on 8 days of food: $71
Average amount spent on food per day: $9
Travel while you’re a student if you want to take advantage of student rates (e.g. museums tickets). I don’t think I had much of that opportunity for this trip though. Outside of visa fees which you should always be aware of, sometimes there are exit fees that we forget about. Not all countries have them and many times they are already embedded in the purchase price of your flight. When crossing borders however, if an exit fee exists, you’ll have to pay for it at the border. Below is the breakout of all of my Tourism Expenses:
If traveling isn’t your day job then all you end up doing is spend money when you’re abroad. You can’t increase revenue in this situation so focus on reducing those expenses the best you can.
I’m not telling you to be frugal to the extent you don’t go out or do anything you really want to do. I’m saying that you don’t need a nice hotel that remembers how you like your towels organized. The best food on the block doesn’t have to arrive on a table with 3 types of forks & spoons and a pair of knives. Public transportation is not hard to learn and is so much cheaper than cabs. Even if you do take cabs, find the ones that are essentially equivalent to Uber Pool to take you to your destination faster than a bus at almost the same cost! There are plenty of then in Amman!
You worked hard for your money. Why not make what 1 person would spend on a trip into 3? It’s up to you. As for me, nothing beats making it to my 5th world wonder for under $1,000.
Safe travels everyone!
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