Am I a Backpacker?

The Frugal Traveler in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has never been high on my list of countries to visit.  To be honest, it wasn’t even on my list. 

But when our son Seth, aka The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, agreed to let us travel frugally with him in Nicaragua as part of his three-month Brazil to NYC assignment, the country immediately became our most-desired destination and the country where we spent a week I shall never forget.

Since Seth rarely knows where he is staying before he arrives, our only instructions were to meet him at the Managua airport’s Budget Car rental parking lot sometime after 1:00 p.m. on July 28th.   He was flying in that morning from Bogota, Colombia.  We had flown from home the day before, and had spent the morning in Granada, a colonial town about an hour from the Managua airport, fairly incompetently getting around that attractive colonial city.


Because we had no way of contacting Seth, I imagined all kinds of things that could go wrong.  But as we tried to ask the lady at the Budget counter where their cars were parked, I spied the Frugal Traveler squatting on the floor about ten yards away, computer open on his lap, planning the first day of our journey.  In the short time since his plane landed, he had bought a Nicaragua phone chip, and was calling places in the northwest corner of the country where we might stay. He then called his credit card company to see what insurance they covered for the rental car, got some Nicaraguan cordobas, and was ready to roll before I could get over the fact that we had actually found him. 

For six glorious days we watched Seth negotiate prices, directions, and keeping gluten out of his mother’s meals.  We watched him charm tour guides and taxi drivers. We came in way under our budget of $70 per person/per day including the price of the car. Although one place we stayed didn’t have a bathroom ensuite, it made up for that by having great people and stunning sunsets over the Pacific.

Seth’s Spanish is flawless, and that helped, but his commitment to mixing with the locals (and dogs) of all ages had us seeing the country in a way we could never have done on our own.

Most important, it was pure joy to have six days with an adult son who took such good care of us, while at the same time proving to us that we have not outgrown adventure.

Even at 70-something.

P.S.  You can read his views on traveling with us at The Frugal Traveler..


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Granny in Dallas

My pride and joy uses a Mac, too. Have you ever noticed all that the World's Greatest Kidlets do?


I'm leaving tomorrow to visit MY son in Lima Peru, and it will be wonderful to see him. He's already put a lot of thought into his father and I visiting. So glad you had a good time. I did read your son's article. I have followed the Frugal Traveler for awhile and when i began following your blog was interested to see the new FT is your son!

Pamela Miles

This post gives me encouragement as I contemplate visiting my daughter, who's spending a year in Buenos Aires, and touring Argentina. Her Spanish is rudimentary, but we're both on Macs, so we've got it half-right!

Mari Campos

Lovely post - what an absolutely unforgettable parents-son trip!

"Jack" Peyton Pugh

Dear Judy,
I hope it is okay to call you that. I almost feel like I know you. I very much enjoy your blog. I got the web address from your son, Seth, with whom I just spent several days at a hostel in Zacatecas, Mexico. Sean would not tell me that he was the NY Times' Frugal Traveler until the day he left for San Antonio. He was very astute to keep that identity to himself, since it would have altered our brief friendship.
I just wanted to say what you already know: you have raised a fine, talented son. And now I can see where his talent (and his good looks) come from. Although I feel more like Seth's age than I do an almost 70-something, I am pleased that Seth introduced me to your blog. Keep up the good work, and invite me to the party when Seth wins his Pulitzer Prize. Bound to happen.

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