Monday, February 23, 2009

Frugal Trip

I am writing this as i'm flying high somewhere between Houston and Phoenix. I'm sleepy, tired, and a bit cold but happy to be able to travel and get paid for it!
Now even when the company i'm working for as a contractor is going to pay my airline ticket, hotel and probably my meals, there's still some expenses, hidden ones, that come up to bite you when you are not looking.
Not totally related but a bit so is the fact that my youngest daughter's birthday was on the 22nd, so my whole schedule was set up so I would travel on the 23rd to be with her on her birthday. Her birthday was a good attempt at saving money. She wanted a shirt, shoes, cake, a trip to the movies with her sister and two friends and a table game called Mall Madness.
I got her the shirt and shoes with points on the credit card I had cut up and had replaced again just for this trip (emergency and hotel checking in use only). I had just enough points to get her the clothes basically for free. The cake was 200 lps at Pricesmart, not much savings there except I got the smallest one since it wasn't going to be an actually party anyway. The movie trip cost was cut in 50% because I had a couple of two for one coupons from some gas station hot dog purchases done earlier. I only had to buy three tickets to get us five into the movies (my two daughers, two friends of hers, and myself). Unfortunately snacks were full price and I didn't fall for the popcorn refill trick that required purchase of a more expensive combo than what we finally got.
The interesting thing about the board game is that when we came out of the movies, the store was closed so I couldn't buy it for her. She was sad and upset for a couple of minutes but eventually she forgot about it. For the day that is. She has the memory of an elephant so i'm sure she will ask for it some time later when I get back.
Ok, on to my travel. I had to pay for my airport taxes which is $32. I had lunch before going to the airport so I didn't have to buy anything there. Besides I got a nice hot sandwich on the flight to Houston. During my wait in Houston I have to confess that I was tempted to buy at this or that store but I stood my ground and bought nothing. I had my free priotity pass club card that was given to me with my platinum card (the one of two that I still don't have on a arranged payment schedule.
With that card I was able to get into Continental's President's Club near my next flight's gate. I got there and used their free internet to call home and work using my magicjack and a local honduran IP phone I have. The other options would've been to use a payphone while calling everyone or buying time from the airport's internet service at $15 per day , when I used it only for one hour or so. Another treat at the Club was the free drinks and snacks which I happily enjoyed after walking miles from one terminal, waiting in line with hundreds of people at immigration and customs and then another couple of miles to the other terminal. Ok so I only took ice water and some potato chips but that was enough for me.
After that I got onboard this flight and i'm heading to Phoenix. My friend from MO is flying there to and he will pick me up at the airport in his rental car, so I won't have to pay a cab fare to the hotel. Right now I still have intact the $500 and my credit card, both of which I had to bring with me to pass immigration without problems. I just had a nice cold turkey sandwich, a chocolate and some Ginger Ale which im sure could hold me up until morning. However i'm sure my friend has other plans.
This is it for now. I'm trying to may these post short but they come up long anyway. Will have to improve on this.
At least this blog, and the beautiful night sky i'm looking at thru the window, is free.


Cindy in California said...

Welcome to the US! I hope you have a great, inexpensive trip. It sounds like you are resisting most temptations. Could you try to get your daughter the game in the US? I do not know, it may cost less if it is imported to Honduras. If you do it right, it could be a gift from your trip and cancel out the birthday obligation, too. (Although it may require an equally costly gift for your other daughter, so maybe it's not such a great deal.)

Your US contract employer should cover your costs including food (within reason, of course) and ground transportation (your friend was picking you up but if he won't be taking you back to the airport) so save your receipts. Go home with your $500!

Work hard and have some (no cost) fun!

La Gringa said...

I hope you have a great trip!

As Cindy said, your employer should be willing to pay for miscellaneous expenses, too. That is customary. They should also pay for the Honduran exit fee. If you didn't happen to get a receipt, perhaps you can just print out a page from somewhere on the internet showing what the fee costs.

How does this trip fit with your regular job? Did you have to take vacation time?

Have a Starbucks Frappuccino for me!