Tag Archives: budget travel

Sumo Tickets in Tokyo for the Budget Traveler

I’m taking on the Indie Travel Challenge sponsored by BootsnAll!

Week 5: Travels in Asia

Don’t miss the opportunity to see a Sumo match while you’re in Tokyo! With a little effort, it can be quite an affordable and memorable experience.

First off, check out the Tournament Schedule. You’ll want to look at the dates for Ryogoku Kokugikan. Tournaments usually run for about two weeks, three months a year. The earlier you go in those two weeks, the easier it will be to get a ticket. Pick a date and plan on being there around 7:30AM. Bring some sort of personal item to mark your seat with.

Once you arrive, there may already be 50-100 people in line. Don’t be discouraged.

You’ll notice that the line will be organized. There is no pushing, or shoving. Join the line and wait patiently. One ticket per person. You cannot send one person from your group to purchase your tickets.

Tickets will cost 2300JPY for the cheapest, non-reserved seating. You will receive a Sumo guide and schedule in English.  Find a seat in the non-reserved seating area, leave your personal item, and wander down to the main stage. Most reserved seating guests won’t arrive until later in the day to see the higher ranking bouts so feel free to hang out there for awhile. To get more out of your experience, learn more about Sumo here.

Do not miss out on trying chanko nabe. Follow the crowd, join the line and get a taste of a sumo staple for 350JPY. It’s not the best tasting food in Japan but its a fun experience.

You may also want to return another day to visit the Sumo Museum. During tournaments, admission is limited to reserved seat holders but outside of those dates, it’s free!

If there are no tournaments going while you’re in Tokyo, check out the other tournament locations in Japan.

Photos Courtesy of E:

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The Thrifty Traveler’s Guide to Attending the Vienna Opera

I’m taking on the Indie Travel Challenge sponsored by BootsnAll!

Week 10: Planning a Europe Trip

The highlight of my visit to Austria was attending the Vienna Opera. E&I did not even consider it an option within our budget until our Couchsurfing host informed us it would only cost 3 EUR. Yes, 3 EUR or 4 USD. We navigated the system to attend Arabella and can now attest that this experience is a must for any traveler.

Here is the run down:

1. Check any Vienna Opera ticket website to find the Vienna Opera schedule. Look at the price and feel good that you will not be paying that price.

2. Bring a scarf (this is important) and some form of entertainment (deck of cards, magazine, ipod…).

3. Go to the back entrance of the Vienna Opera House 90 minutes prior to the scheduled performance.

4. Wait. Buy ticket (Note: 1 ticket per person. You cannot buy for a friend. You cannot send your friend to wait for you). Wait. Hand ticket to ticket collector.

5. Run! – This is where chaos ensues. Forget everything you know about etiquette. Find a spot you want and beat the person behind you, next to you, and in front of you to get there first. Wrap your scarf (remember when I said this would be important) around as much railing as you can to mark your spot. Do not touch another guest’s scarf.

6. Relax. You have 45 minutes. Explore the historic Vienna Opera House and buy a drink with all that money you saved.





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A Lesson On Trust

I was raised to be weary of strangers. I was taught to be cautious in receiving help from others  and trained to be overly paranoid that this somehow placed me at a disadvantage in a relationship. All this became irrelevant when I chose to enter into a couchsurfing relationship.

CouchSurfing International‘s mission is to “Create Inspiring Experiences” by – you guessed it – facilitating your stay on a stranger’s couch (or other sleeping arrangement).

My first couchsurfing experience occurred in Vienna, Austria. E&I knew this trip would be on the expensive end of our budget so we  sought to find ways to cut costs. I set up a couchsurfing account and messaged a few hosts but because my profile was new, I was turned down more than once. Running out of time, I posted a blurb on CS Group: Last Minute Couch Search – Vienna. Our host responded with a request for us to check out his profile and ‘policy’ for hosting. After some short introductions, we set and confirmed a time and place to meet.

This is where the little voices from my childhood jumped in – You don’t know this person. He could be dangerous. He could rob you. Haven’t you heard of travelers getting murdered? Etc…

And, I imagine our host may have had some small voices as well – You don’t know them. They could be dangerous. They could rob you. Haven’t you heard of travelers coming to stay with their hosts and murdering them? Etc…

Thank goodness we all ignored those voices. We stayed at our host’s home for several days. We cooked together, explored the city, attended the Opera and had an overall amazing time. So much so that when we came back through Vienna after our two weeks traveling, we stayed with him again.

That is what is so amazing about CouchSurfing and other travel hosting organizations. They facilitate the meaningful interactions that we all look for in our travels and reaffirm the truth that “strangers are just people who are not yet friends”.

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Border Crossings

Crossing borders can be intimidating. This is especially true when – you have been traveling for twelve hours; you are crossing into a country where you do not speak the language; the sun is due to set in the next hour; and, you have not yet determined where you are headed for the night.

E&I had a plan for when we landed in Belize. We would share a taxi cab to save $ on the ride into town. We would book it to catch the last express bus to take us straight to Flores where we would head to bed early in order to wake up for the early morning tour of Tikal.

It did not go as planned.

We found a nice couple to share the taxi ride into town but when the taxi driver discovered we were not friends, we received a stern lecture on how this took advantage of taxi drivers who needed to make money. What we had expected to be a pleasant drive became awkward as our new taxi companions tried to convince the driver that we would be generous tippers. He looked at our grimy backpacks and ignored them. I didn’t blame him.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at our bus terminal anxious to leave Belize City only to discover the last express bus for the day had left. Our options were – stay in Belize City; head to Caye Caulker for sun and sand; or, take the local bus to the border. The last option was greatly discouraged by the bus station employees as they warned us the local bus would take NINE hours! We decided to try our luck.

A few quick exchanges for directions and we were on the bus to Benque Viejo. The bus ride took 4 hours and cost us $4 (total!). We had no idea where we were when we arrived in Benque Viejo. We had not planned to travel in Belize so had neglected to bring a guide book for the country. We (naturally) decided it would be wise to walk in the direction everyone else was headed and that the border must not be too far away. A taxi driver took pity on us and drove us the 2+ miles to the border (for $2!) We paid the exit fees, passed through customs, walked across the border, stopped at immigration and arrived in Guatemala just as the sun was setting.

The Lonely Planet – Guatemala guided us to Rio Mopan Lodge, steps from the border, where we settled in for the night satisfied that the day went just as planned.

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