Monday, December 28, 2009

How to travel cheap, but still enjoy yourself--Addis

First photo with Y and her Babba at Sidist Kilo MT home

If you are attempting to do adoption travel on the cheap, I will include several points of interest in this post. Here are my tips:
1. Fly Turkish Airlines----I had flown Turkish before and totally recommend it for cheap travel. Even at the last minute, our flight was only $1200 per person. (Because Y is over 2, she had to pay a full fare coming back which was also $1200, but for one way!). We flew directly from Chicago to Istanbul and had a quick layover of three hours. During that time we utilized the free Internet in the airport, but compensated with outrageously expensive and mediocre food and coffee! The flight was smooth, all luggage arrived as planned and the plane was new and well kept. Booking was easy. We did it through Cheap and then phoned the airlines to book Y's ticket which was linked to ours. Turkish has consistently had the cheapest tickets to Addis for over a year now. Although the ticket is nonrefundable, you can pay an extra $200 once you are in Addis if you need to change your ticket, and this is very easily accomplished. CONS: It was a slight nuisance to book over the phone as the connection was obviously through a distant call center, but totally worth the money saved. Also, flying back through Istanbul security was very tight. We had our passports checked six times. With a three year old in tow, this was a hassle and almost made us all go crazy, but one week later we are just glad to have saved so much $$$. No regrets on choosing Turkish. I would note that a stroller would have made this part of the trip 100% better!
2. Mr Martin's Cozy Place Guest House (or "German Guest House"): Some would call this "no frills." It is fairly basic, but still allows you to feel comfortable and safe and has the modern amenities one needs (hot water, electricity, and a shared refrigerator). We stayed in the single room one night before we picked up Y ($10 USD) and then switched to the family room ($19.50 per night). The family room included a sitting room with a desk, wardrobe and chairs and an attached bedroom with a double and single bed. The bathroom is down the hall, but felt like a private bath because only one other suite shared it with our room and the suite was empty most of the time. The staff are super friendly, they were understanding and accommodating to our screaming three year old, and all of the guests are fairly social, which is good given the amount of time spent in the guest house. They have a cafe with reasonably priced "Western" food ($3USD breakfasts). They have a decent Internet connection and the staff can help you get anything you need including changing money and running errands for you (the latter does not come for free, but is cheap!). Most of the other guests are tourists or low paid researchers or interns, which is nice because the place clears out during the day making the staff extra attentive and eager to chat with you! CONS: The walls are pretty thin in this place, so the noise really depends on your neighbors and what sort of...ummm, shall we say "activities," that they wish to participate in. (None on this trip, thankfully). If you are a Gladney family, this guest house would be far from the Care Center...about 30 mins, but totally accessible with your driver (this is in the "Atlas Hotel" neighborhood). Again, it is pretty basic, but they clean everyday and it is bud free etc.
3. Eat Local---This will save you a TON of money. Right outside of the guesthouse is an Injera house. We ate the local "Shiro Wat" daily which cost around $1.20 total. With drinks included we would spend about $2.50 on lunch and sometimes eat breakfast and dinner there as well. However, I am a saladaholic and need my salad fix, so we also ate at the neighborhood Lebanese restaurant that caters to foreigners...great, but much more expensive (still cheap at around $13 total). CONS: none! Injera and Shiro Wat at those prices can't be beat.

Hmmm those were our big price cutters! We also didn't have a driver at all, which worked well for us because we know Addis public transport, but most likely would not be a good bet if this is your first time to Addis. We aren't really super thrifty people and these things were all fairly easy to do. We certainly were not suffering.

To make up for all of our savings, I did feel the need to spend around $100USD at this store. I consider it an Ethiopia MUST!


one + one said...

Love the travel tips. And, hoping to use Turkish again myself...such a steal!

Very thankful for your dollars spent at Sabahar. :)

Mark and Heidi said...

Thanks for the tips!

Jen said...

I so wish I had read this post before we traveled...I would have loved the tips especially the store.

emily said...

So great to read this! It was your sweet baby girl that we went to see that day- she is beautiful. So glad she is home!