How to Travel on a Budget
*Small note: I’m not one of those travelers that quit my “normal” life and sold everything to travel around the world. I never lived a “normal” life to begin with, or had much to sell. This page provides a personal example of how someone can save money and use it on long-term travel (or whatever else you may enjoy doing ;)).
In order to travel around the world with little money you need to not only be cautious about what (and how much) you consume, but you also need to have a bit of an alternative mentality towards having a job.
To put it simply: the more you work, the less time you have to travel. Having less time to travel means spending more money because of restrictions and because of your own mentality.
If you’re in a rush because you only have 1 or 2 weeks of vacation time at your destination, you will probably plan ahead to make sure that you can see everything that you came there to see. Anytime you book a tour (or anything else) overseas you will most likely pay 2-3, maybe 10 times the local price. You will also need certain dates- these dates may be more expensive than other ones (especially if you go on vacation during high season, like summer or Christmas time).
If your time is not limited, you know that once you get to know the place and the people there, you will figure out how the locals do things (by locals, I mean other people that have little money :)). You can find a way to do what you came there to do for the local price (or at least a much better one), because if you stay in one place long enough, you will become a “kinda” local yourself. That’s what traveling is all about for me. It’s not about ticking off a checklist of places I want to see, it’s about gaining a new local perspective of our world
Here’s an example: If your time is limited but you would like to do an “adventure tour” of hiking and ice diving in Siberia, you would probably have to pay thousands of dollars. But I managed to do this a little bit differently :) Since I was living on my savings and had no job or time restrictions, I decided to come to Siberia on a one-way ticket. I ended up moving into a cheap apartment close to Lake Baikal, got hired as a hiking guide and even figured out a way to ice dive for free :D.
The cost of living in Siberia for 1.5 years was probably around the same amount of money (if not less) than someone else’s two-week “adventure” tour (which is probably not even a real adventure… since it’s a tour ?)
I think this is much more important than time restrictions.
What I mean by mentality is the difference in mindset between being on vacation (taking a break from your lifestyle) and traveling (-a lifestyle-).
If you are going away for a set amount of time and have to come back home to your job on a certain date then your “traveling” is most likely just vacation. I don’t actually consider most forms of vacation as traveling but many people do so I will try to make the distinction here:
People go on vacation to relax from all the hard work that they’ve been doing. They call this traveling because they relax (and maybe see some sites) somewhere other than where they live.
Their time is limited because they have to go back home, usually to go back to work or school. As a result, their mentality is that they have to get the most out of this short vacation time (relax, have fun, etc.). To get the most out of vacation, they splurge on all kinds of stuff- fancy food, cocktails, nice accommodation, souvenirs, whatever. This way they can have fun, relax, not worry much and then go back to work.
Clearly, this is not my idea of traveling.
In fact, I’m sure that all of my fellow moneyless nomads can agree that this is quite the opposite of traveling :)
5-star resorts are not traveling. Fancy restaurants are not important.
Just because you’re somewhere other than where you live, does not mean that you are traveling.
Some people even consider mass tourism as a form of traveling.
In my opinion, it’s quite the opposite.
Traveling (by my definition) means taking your time to get to know the local people and place that you visit. It means trying to put yourself in the shoes of a local and taking time to see what is on the piece of Earth that you stand on.
Of course, there are some grey areas between traveling and vacation, like say backpacking through Europe for a month or two between semesters. If a person is making an effort to get to know the local place and its people, then I would consider this traveling. However, in my opinion, the purest form of traveling is when you quit everything and take off without a deadline or much of a plan. This is also the cheapest form of traveling because you free yourself from restrictions.
But more importantly, you free yourself from the mentality of being on vacation. Your mentality is not that you are relaxing, having fun and taking a break from your normal lifestyle (so you can splurge on things), your mentality is that this is your life.
That’s just it. This is life! Traveling is life! There are some challenges to life on Earth but you just have to learn to deal with those challenges while living life. Most of these challenges have to do with money because in the world we live in today, we need money to survive. So basically, in order to take on the traveling lifestyle, you have to learn how to deal with living with little money (i.e. having the opposite mentality of being on vacation :)). Every dollar counts- the better you learn to play this game, the longer you can travel, the less you have to work. The less you work, the more time you have to travel. The more time you have to travel, the easier it is for you to find cheap deals on anything you want to do.
Seems like a win win situation to me :)
And the opposite seems like a lose lose situation…
The more you work, the less time you have to travel. The less time you have, the more you have to spend while traveling (because of time restrictions and your mentality). The more you spend, the more you have to work again… the more you work, the more tired you get from working, the more you end up spending on vacation… the more you have to work again.
What are you working for anyway?
The funny thing is, because I travel all the time and never go on vacation, I never need to go on vacation. Life itself is even better than vacation.
But I do understand that not everybody wants to climb volcanoes, swim under waterfalls and pick mangoes from other people’s backyards while living out of a hammock :)
It’s not important for you to travel. What’s important for you is to do what you want. It’s also important for you to realize that all of this- this game we play (the job game/ money game/ trade game) is really just a game. Really. “The real world” is just a game.
Think about what you actually need to survive with: air, water, food and sometimes shelter and clothing. You can go into the jungle and live off of the land to survive, or you can follow by the rules of the trade game to get what you need to survive.
Trade game meaning: trade your time & skills for money- trade your money for food, shelter, goods, etc. (There are many many more trades in our world, but let’s just keep it simple for now).
The only reason you need a job is to get the stuff you need to survive with on Earth.
It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Get a job, get some money, buy some food. Or get two jobs, save some money, quit, use this money to buy food for an extended amount of time. You don’t have to make your job your lifestyle if you just learn to manage your money well. I probably haven’t even worked for a quarter of my adult life and all of the jobs that I’ve had were ones that almost anybody can do (waitressing, bartending, babysitting, housekeeping, things like that).
Think about what this job really means to your existence as a living being on Planet Earth.
Surely a few of us make some amazing discoveries and scientific advancements for humankind, but the majority of us just work some mediocre (or shitty) jobs that basically only serve to keep the system going. And for what purpose? The system is destroying the environment that we depend on for survival. -Climate change, pollution, deforestation and countless of other problems are all a result of the structure of our society.
Our entire system is based on profiting from an infinite supply of resources, yet we live on a planet of finite resources.
So why spend most of your life working to keep it going? What’s the point?
The truth is that we already live in a world of abundance. We have more food than people can eat, more homes than homeless people, more clothes than people can wear, more gadgets than people can use, we have an abundance of knowledge and stuff. But despite all of this, the entire human species has to trade- to work meaningless jobs- to obtain all these things.
Most of these meaningless jobs can already be replaced by automation, and will be replaced as soon as it is profitable enough to do so.
When automation takes away enough jobs, people will no longer have the purchasing power to buy the goods created.
And there goes the game and the great collapse.
That’s one scenario anyway, there are millions of others. The point is, there is no point of spending the majority of your life working simply because everybody else tells you that that’s the right thing to do. If you love your job, that’s fantastic! Keep at it! But if you’re not happy, and you’re stuck in this job because you’ve been conditioned to believe that that’s the only way to live on Planet Earth… and you’re one of those people who tell me they wish they could travel but can’t because of the money… then you might want to read this section and perhaps reanalyze your reality.
Remember that one day you will die. And what did you live for? Did you live just to play the game? Did you win?
Don’t kid yourself, nobody wins this game. One day we will all die out, the Earth will keep rotating, and we will all be big losers. We’ll be even bigger losers, however, if we bring our own selves to extinction through our own shitty game.
Read more about the trade game here: