Flip Flops and Shoestrings: Travelling on a Budget

Flip Flops on Grass

Flip Flops on Grass © 2012 Mufidah Kassalias

It’s all about feet today, and how we get from here to there. Travelling on a shoestring, even with flip flops, has been a mix of easy-going, long summer days combined with a growing awareness that our travel budget coffers need refilling.

Last week disaster struck in the car park of Cora, a huge supermarket on the outskirts of Vichy. I got out of the car and dropped my camera. Lens first. The shattering clonk still resounds in my ears. I tried taking a photograph and was relieved to hear a familiar sound, but the relief was short-lived as the image was way overexposed. I took a few more shots, which were likewise overexposed and blurry. I sat on a concrete bollard and cried. For at least ten minutes I cried sitting outside the store, and then again inside as we sat on a bench drinking water from the in-store cooler.

Insurance. That would have been the answer, except we don’t have any. I cancelled our home insurance before leaving since it wouldn’t cover us for extended trips in Europe, and I searched extensively for a travel insurance policy that would cover our possessions on such a long trip but found none that would. Only after dropping my camera did I remember that it’s possible to buy item specific insurance for exactly those things we’ve brought and are precious to us (as well as being integral to our long-term vision): our cameras and computers.

We got here, to Vichy, France, by way of enthusiasm, faith and our ’98 Fiat Punto — a thus far trusty (if somewhat rusty underneath) mobile, complete with roof box. How we’ll get from here to the next ‘there’ I don’t yet know, especially now that my camera is toast and the repair bill may be as high as a replacement camera and lens.

Although Sean and I are continuing to work remotely with clients, it’s all much trickier than we had anticipated as we’ve been beset by intermittent internet connections from the start — something I’ve found particularly disruptive when it comes to writing blog posts and keeping up my social media connections.

Today, however, has been a breakthrough. I’m working offline. Instead of opening up a WordPress post window, I’ve opened an iWork Pages document and am writing under the shade of a tree without concern for a working WiFi connection. And when the internet does come back online I’ll simply log in to WordPress and paste this into a post. All of which is to say that I intend to post regularly again, despite the WiFi issues and my broken camera.

In the meantime, I’d like to introduce my most recently added Widget: the Donate button on the right! If you enjoy reading my travel posts and would like to support us both in our slow travel venture — and help towards a camera repair/replacement — please do click on the button. All donations will be gratefully received, however large or small, and put to immediate and very good use.

Alternatively, if you happen to have a working Nikon compatible lens that you no longer use, I’d be very happy to give it a new home and pay for its journey from there to here.

Or, if you’re a Mac user and could do with some help, just get in touch. I work one-to-one with people via Skype and currently have a ‘summer savings’ offer that will save you 30% off my regular hourly fee. And since we’ve found a couple of public WiFi solutions we can use for those mission critical moments, I’m not solely dependent on the intermittent campsite connection.

And now, as the temperature is in the low 30s (or 90s if you’re a Fahrenheit person), I think it’s time to slip my feet into my flip flops and head for the pool. And, who knows, perhaps in the intervening period the frayed shoestring will start to repair itself.

18 responses

  1. Oh what a terrible story. I dropped my camera a while back – it felt like I lost a piece of myself. I ended up paying to get it fixed, and it wasn’t cheap.

    Good luck, hope you find a new lens.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. So sorry to hear about your camera. I’d cry as well!
    I hope you find a replacement lens. Don’t know about Nikon, but the digital Canons are compatible with old EOS lenses … buying an older film camera like the Canon EOS 850 with zoom lens to replace a broken kit lens would cost only about 50 € I think. Maybe there is a similar option for Nikon.

  3. So sorry to read about your camera. I am hoping that something unexpected and very positive will spin out of this sad event. I’m pulling for you.

  4. I’m sorry about your camera. I dropped my camera once and will never forget the spot where it happened. Perhaps it is less expensive to buy a used camera online than repair??

    • Another person who knows the feeling. I don’t think I’ll forget the spot either. Yes, perhaps a used lens rather than a repair. I need to look into the various options.

  5. Mufidah, most largish European cities have a photography shop that rent lenses-it just means you have to do a recce beforehand of what you want to shoot, you,ve only got to rent for a day. Here in Spain wildlife shooters especially, rent a lens for a weekend. Just think how knowledgeable about lenses you´ll be after a few months of doing that! Something good always comes out of bad! hope the suggestion helps :)

    • That’s another good idea, as long as I know what I want to shoot ahead of time. And it would be good to become more knowledgeable about lenses in the process. Thank for the idea, Adrian.