Travel on a budget: Gunno’s adventures

Spanish teacher shares tips, advice for aspiring travellers


James Gunno

Gunno poses for a selfie in Cordoba, Spain July 7, 2019. Cordoba is a city in southern Spain which was previously part of Rome.

Spanish teacher James Gunno has traveled to 42 countries in his life. A self-proclaimed travel addict, he flies abroad at least twice a year during breaks throughout the school year. Gunno started traveling when he was five and said he has learned to appreciate the beauty of it.

“It’s fun to see how other people live and experience other cultures,” Gunno said. “You understand the world and yourself better while traveling.”

Gunno’s Adventures
Gunno has been all around the world, but the most memorable place for him is Spain. He said he enjoys the food, culture, history and the diverse scenery.

“It’s a lot of fun to travel through the northern part of the country that’s very green and cool and then you can go to Barcelona and to the coast and travel to see a different culture,” Gunno said. “I love to travel throughout the different regions of the country; it’s distinctively different from one side of the country to the other.”

During Gunno’s trip to Croatia, he visited the “Sea Organ” in Zadar. Although he read about the man-made invention beforehand, listening to the sheer enormity of the instrument was a whole new experience.

“You can sit down by the ocean and listen to the installed organs as the ships go by,” Gunno said. “It almost sounds like singing whales.”

The most thrilling travel experience for Gunno was Istanbul, Turkey. The cultural cross between the west and the east through food and architecture was beautiful according to Gunno.

“Our tour booked a group private tour, but only two people showed up.” Gunno said. “The food there was absolutely delicious. Chicken pudding stood out to me the most. They also make lots of raviolis, lamb and yogurt sauces.”

Since Turkey is an Islamic country, the call of prayer is announced five times a day from the speakers in the mosques.

Gunno poses for a selfie in Granda, Spain on July 27, 2017. Granada is known for its medieval architecture and royal places. (James Gunno)

“It was terrifying to be woken up at 4 a.m. for the call to prayer on the first day,” Gunno said. “Everyone stops to pray and you get strange looks if you don’t.”

Another unforgettable trip was when Gunno stayed at a souk in Marrakech, Morocco. A souk is a marketplace often inside a former palace.

“You enter through thick walls to this beautiful multi level courtyard with beautiful tiles and swimming pools,” Gunno said.

During his stay in Marrakech, Gunno wanted to buy a cushioned ottoman called a pouf from a vendor in the marketplace, but he didn’t have any cash on him. The vendor was adamant to sell the pouf to Gunno, so he lent a ride to Gunno to the ATM.

“I’m not a motorcycle rider, but he took me on the back of his motorcycle in the souk around the donkey carts and shops going fairly fast,” Gunno said. “I was gone for a fair amount of time, so my group probably thought I was dead.”

Guide to travel on a budget
Gunno said he believes that everyone should take advantage of travel, but recognizes that financial issues often get in the way. He advises using numerous resources and deals online that can help while traveling on a budget.

“Years ago I stayed in Paris for two weeks and I only spent two hundred dollars,” Gunno said. “And if you look online you can find those deals, including Airbnbs.”

Gunno recommends staying at an Airbnb or a hostel rather than a hotel. Hostels are more common outside of the United States and include benefits such as cheaper housing, continental breakfast and more.

“There was an organization called the International Youth Hostel Association and you can stay in these rooms for lower prices; breakfast is included,” Gunno said. “Staying at a hostel especially when you’re young is beneficial because you can meet a bunch of people and it saves money.”

Gunno says it’s easier to travel light for mobility especially if you’re not planning on staying in one place.

“I would recommend traveling light; I always travel with a carry-on bag so I don’t have to check luggage,” Gunno said.

Gunno uses the “Been” app to track the countries he’s been to. Gunno travels to Europe at least once a year during seasonal breaks. (James Gunno)

According to Gunno, investing in train tickets can be cheaper when traveling through multiple places. Gunno traveled with a year old pass when he was 24. Not only was it cheaper accommodation to ride trains unlimited times through cities, it allowed him to travel with people who share his interests.

“I met lots of diverse people with different backgrounds and shared experiences while traveling together,” Gunno said. “It was fun for me to travel for a month and half since I didn’t have much money at the time.”

Gunno said the most difficult part of travel is airline issues such as canceling or rebooking flights multiple times.

“It can be stressful when you’re far from home without knowing the language,” Gunno said. “Things don’t always work out like you planned, but it makes you a better person when you figure it out.”