How to Travel the World on a Budget
Note: The comments page is not working for this post. Sorry for the inconvenience.
A while ago, I first posted my tips for how to travel the world on a budget. Now, I’m back wanting to ditch the clothes talk and focus on adventure, my drug, for a minute. I am getting the travel bug again and need to occupy my brain by focusing on adventure right now.
I can’t really decide where I want to go, but I think around November of this year I want to do a 2 month or so trip. I will plan it on here so you guys can see my process. Nepal and India sound really good but I am not sure if November is a good time for trekking in Nepal (I think May is ideal, so maybe September/October would be good too. I need to do a bit of research). I also really want to go back to Thailand since I never went to the northern region of the country and would like to do Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam if I go around Southeast Asia again. They are relatively close to Nepal and India but I think that would be too much for me to try to tackle all at once. I really don’t want to be away from my life for more than about 3 months tops. I think I would need a month in both Nepal and India, so that is already two months. Maybe just add in something small Bhutan for a week or two and call it a day.
That is where my planning is now. So, I have 7 months to save money and make sure that I can go. I will probably aim for about $7,000 but I think that will be more than enough. I do already know that trekking to Base Camp of Mt. Everest is very high on my list if I go to Nepal and can be pricey, which is why the number $7,000 is pretty high. If I have $5,000 I think I will be fine, I just don’t like to watch my money and what I spend too much when I am traveling. I know that these countries are inexpensive compared to the US. Nepal hostels look like they range from about $4 USD to $8 USD per night according to HostelBookers. In India it looks like it will be about the same per night. Private rooms in India go up to $20, however.
With this pricing, if I am staying for 60 days and paying $8 USD per night, that is $480 for 60 days. In that case, $5,000 will be more than enough, but there are always the big excursions that really up the price, plus the touristy things that can be more expensive. Flights to the different cities will be another factor – India is huge and would take a very long time to explore all overland, so I will definitely want to fly to a few of the different cities instead of trying to bus it. I think my Base Camp trek and flight to and from the States will be the main expenses.
Seems like this will be very doable. My next step will be to get a travel book or two to read up on what exactly I want to do, how much time I really need in each place, and to get a more concrete idea of what these two countries are about culturally and logistically speaking.
As I discussed last time, exploring the world is easily doable on a budget. I haven’t been everywhere, so I can’t speak for the whole world, but of the places I have been there are some definite go tos, and some definite skips for cheap adventure.
For starters, if you are dreaming of a Chanel-clad Paris, with possible Karl Lagerfeld sightings at chic cafes, this post isn’t really for you. I dream of that too, however, for now I won’t be giving advice on how to get the best room at the George V. I’ll save that for another decade (one in which I actually know something about said experience). For now, I am content eating street food in Thailand, not showering for 4 days in Bolivia, and bungy jumping sans shirt in New Zealand for free jump – hey, tops are optional in France so really it’s so very euro-chic of me, right?
As I mentioned before, you can do all of this alone. I have been lucky that somehow I have usually been able to convince a friend to accompany me when I travel. However, there have definitely been weeks when I was just at it alone. When I was away for 3.5 months, I had a friend with me for 3 weeks in Thailand. Then she went home, and I had a week alone before another friend came to meet me in Singapore. For that week alone, I ended up tagging along with 2 guys we had met at our hostel and we all went to the island Koh Tao together, a short ferry ride away, to get PADI scuba certified. None of us knew each other prior to our stay in Thailand, but it was as natural to stay together as if we had planned it all along. That’s just how this type of traveling goes.
Even if you don’t meet people to travel with, which if you are gone a long time, there will definitely be spells where you are alone, I have found that I really learned the most about myself in these times.
After my friend Aaron, who met me in Singapore left me to go back home, I was alone again for another 2 weeks until my friend Melissa met me in Sydney. Aaron and I were in Bali when he flew home, and we hadn’t met any good friends (well he met a Filipino girlfriend, and I went out
on a couple dates with a Swedish model dude but that’s a story for another day) so I decided to hop on a ferry to the island Gilli Tragwana. On that particular ferry there was an Aussie guy about my age also backpacking alone. We decided to split a bunk bed room in a little homestay I had heard about to save a bit of money.
The next day, I ended up getting food poisoning and was feeling very lonely, sick, and depressed. It was also Christmas. Vishram, my new Aussie roommate, convinced me to get up and get Christmas dinner with him at a little beachside seafood restaurant. I reluctantly consented and quickly learned I had just signed up for a 2-hour USA bashing marathon where Vishram went on to tell me how he had once had a layover in LA and because of his 4-hour experience in our dear country, he will forever despise Americans (I got the feeling me included) and will never, at least willingly, return.
It was an interesting way to spend Christmas, to say the least. I tried to defend a country I am not always thrilled with but I do have a loyal patriotism for for the rest of the night. The experience will forever make me think twice before flagrantly judging a place I do not know intimately. Just because I have been somewhere does not make me an authority, just like Vishram’s negative experience does not make him an expert on America. I left dinner feeling more depressed than ever and the next morning caught another ferry. This time to the island of Lombok, Indonesia.
In Lombok, I got an actual hotel room, because the prices were so inexpensive, but my room felt much creepier than the hostels I had become used to. It was a budget hotel of course, and budget hotels always seem so much seedier than hostels. I decided to walk around town for bit, stopping to grab a fresh fruit smoothie at a little stand overlooking the ocean. A German guy in a yellow polo came up and we started speaking about life. He had a rented motorbike, the choice method of transportation in Lombok, and we rode all over the island. Up and down the hills and explored all the off roads, watching the locals go about life. Fascinated by their daily rituals, seeing them walking their cows along the roads with buckets of water balanced atop their heads. I don’t even remember his name now,
this German man, but riding through the hills we connected in a silent way. Both being alone in an unknown place, taking in life as it came. Feeling lonely in our unfamiliar togetherness but at the same time feeling alive in the newness of the foreign land we had found ourselves in. I will never forget that day.
I finally made my way back to Bali and then booked a last minute and rather expensive plane ticket to Sydney just in time for New Year’s Eve leading into 2010. As always, I had not booked a hostel, and since it was NYE I was in a bit of a bind. It was either pay $350 USD per night for a hostel (yes, you read that right) or find someone to stay with. I started facebooking everyone who might have a friend in Sydney to no avail. Finally, I found someone with an open couch willing to take me in on Couchsurfers. His name was Mark, and he was not only housing me but 5 other backpackers as well. 2 Germans, a Danish, a Canadian, and an Israeli. We all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve party at his house and then everyone left except me and the Canadian. I ended up spending 2 weeks at Mark’s house. He was the most generous host, housing me for free, showing me all over his city, introducing me to his friends over great dinners, BBQs and nights out. We had a blast. He is welcome at my apartment here anytime. And that is the magic of traveling alone. You aren’t bound to your familiar counterpart. You branch out and you forge friendships in some of the most unlikely ways. I will stop with the self indulgent trips down memory lane now. But in the end, after your trip is set and done, it is what you are left with. And I think it is one of the best things money can buy.
So once you are set, you have picked your spot, bought your plane ticket, you’ve got to pack. For me, I have
a couple necessities to get me through anywhere. First, a pair of black leggings. This is my traveling uniform. They are so easy to pack, take up virtually no room, comfortable when you are walking around or on long train or plane journeys and look cute. I actually don’t even take jeans unless I am going somewhere cold. Jeans shorts, yes. So get yourself a couple pairs of staple leggings – my favorite here. Then get a huge, knit scarf. You can use it as a blanket and then just put it around your neck when you get off the
train/bus/plane. Like this one. Besides that, Converse or Nikes (sorry no clue where to get these floral pairs of awesomeness) or New Balance (so happy this is a trend now!) are a must. Great fitting t-shirts, a must, too.
No blow-dryer or straightner unless you MUST.
Nothing nice that would make you upset if it got stained, torn, etc.
You might want a towel, or you could buy one as a souvenir once you are on the road and use that.
Happy exploring! xx