I’ll say it – budget travel is intimidating. Not because you’re restricted in the choices you make. As it is, you can hardly expect to follow an itinerary to the last detail, when you travel solo or otherwise. It’s nerve-racking because you’re forced to believe in your ability (or the lack thereof) to navigate a distant land with only a few available resources.
Most depend on your thinking and perspective.
Whether it’s sleeping in the living room of a stranger, taking overnight/longer journeys, exploring a city on foot, or attempting to speak the native tone to save a few bucks, traveling on a budget is an event that happens along a parallel line, light years from the glitzy ‘touristic’ world.
Now, let’s get back to the meat of this post. Spanning three parts, this series covers how to nail budget traveling and the first post talks about my firsthand experience as a budget traveler (obviously to prove my naivety). I hope you join me to find comfort in similarity or humor in chaos.
Without further ado, here are the good and bad parts I experienced as a budget traveler:
- Opting for economical intercity transports comes at a price… of your time, patience and sanity (on more than one occasion, my name vanished from the list of passengers).
- Overestimating mental strength comes to bite back. Mine did when I was traveling 60km/hr to catch my flight back to India only to realize I’d left my digital camera back in Osaka. (The one with the black strap below. If only I knew… )
- Economic accommodations – including Couchsurfing – are 100x worth it. But, don’t be an ass and expect them to be anything like staying in a hotel.
- You’ve to be okay with asking and getting help from strangers.
- You’ll meet new people, and that’s exciting. But, you won’t (or have to) like every one of them.
- Technology is the means to get things done. Nothing more! And sometimes, such means just hang up on you.
- The work of a budget traveler is never over. You must be on the lookout for that next hostel or couch, research regularly to find cheaper/free attractions, holes-in-the-wall to eat at, activities or things to do.
- A nonchalant cloud of anxiety and frustration hovers over your head, almost ready to burst out.
- You discover cheaper but tastier foods locals love to devour.
- You get waaaaay better at interpreting facial expressions because let’s face it, learning a new language is difficult as hell.
- You suddenly become hyper-aware of your wellbeing and lifestyle, in general.
- Your surroundings start getting cleaner. Don’t ever doubt the pressure of living in close quarters with strangers.
- Gratitude and humility dawn upon you.
- You get to explore the local history and traditions by simply hanging out with the locals.
- Whatever level of compatibility you had with maths in high school, there’s no escaping from numbers game AKA financial planning. (In hindsight, this was the best thing that ever happened to me. #MillennialWoes)
- The limitations of your physical and mental abilities become clearer. PS: They’re lower than you think.
- Yet the best part is knowing how to find happiness within and without by savoring the simple, random things.
- And although you may not be good at it or enjoy it, cooking for strangers is blissful.
- Traveling on a tight budget is a great wake-up call for your brain. Your instincts go haywire, and you become more alert and alive… to protect your belongings.
- You live and travel like a local.
- You can conquer anything after surviving the perilous events of budget traveling.
But more importantly,
- You become more human!
For me, the best way to travel will always include a scrappy, shoestring budget. Or else, I would never get the opportunity to find the roots of a community dating back hundreds (or even thousands) of years and why it holds a special place in the hearts of masses.
. . . .
Budget travel is like going on a treasure hunt. You find a lot of things along the way to the destination. Some you love, some you don’t and some that light a fire in you. It’s an experience that’ll change you for good when you know how to make the most of even the smallest things.
And how do you get the most out of every encounter?
Travel to fill your heart and mind with horizons that make you feel grateful.
Travel so you can have a shit ton of stories to tell and reminisce.
Travel to learn who you are and where you want to be.
Travel so you can feel bigger than your physical existence.
Have you been on a budget travel? What was your experience?
Pssst… The next part covers the simple hacks to go on a budget travel like a boss.