Over and over I get asked the same questions and comments.
How much is it costing you? How do you afford it? I cant backpack as I dont have the money too. You must be spending loads.
Traveling costs money. Of course it does. Almost everything we do costs something.
To travel and experience. We pay…
but that’s not the point as much.
It’s turns more towards the value.
I spend nothing compared to what I would in England. Despite being an a huge budget, we live well.
Im hanging out on beaches, drinking way too much coffee in boutique coffee shops. Not too mention climbing up in the jungle finding waterfalls, diving, sipping smoothies on beach bars, wondering hectic cities, sunbathing in fancy resorts, finding fun hostels, living on remote islands, eating out every day and of course tons of other things.
I’m learning new things, seeing the word, making memories and meeting so many fascinating people.
My days are filled with experiences and stories, I wake up not knowing what I’m doing or who I’m meeting. Everyday is an adventure.
So surely this has to cost right?
It does, but probably no where near as much as you think.
Let’s be blunt.
I saved. Nowhere near as much as I wanted, could have or should have.
I worked long hours, did extra jobs, prioritized my money and turned 21 where I received a little financial help towards my trip.
I’ve met people with double as much money for a trip half as long however it’s what you prioritise and want while traveling.
We have to make choices.
We splash our cash a little more when we have income. We own belongings that are giving us nothing. We over shop, over indulge. Why? Because we can.
Backpacking gives you all this for cheaper but we still take it the lowest level. Im rich with experiances and stories. Rich with the friendships and memories I make.
As a backpacker, you get used to how much things can really cost. You realise the value, and trust me, I get a lot more over here in Asia then things back in England and other countries but that still doesn’t mean I should blow my money.
What do things cost?
A taxi 20 minutes across the city in Cambodia can cost me £3. My dinner in Thailand can cost me £1. My accomadation normally costs inbetween £2-£5 a night. I rent mopeds costing £3 for 24 hours.
Prices aren’t cheap. Not as cheap as they used to be. They are lower. A lot lower then back at home.
Even when my mum came to visit and we splashed out a little we were paying £30 ($42 US) for a top quality spa day with use of mud baths, hot springs, facials, foot massages, fresh fruit, tea, coffee, pools, sunbeds and hot coconut milk baths. It was top luxery and if I was in London, I would be paying 5 times that amount. We got picked up from our hotel, dropped back off in our own car and the whole day was fabulous.
It’s not all easy peasy
Sometimes I’ll haggle with a taxi driver for the sake of 30p. Walk another 20 minutes to save $2 on public transport. Carry my rucksack further to save money on tuk tuks and miss out on fun experiences as they are ‘too expensive’.
I won’t over indulge when I eat, I won’t go shopping for things I already have. I wont pay for unnecesary things like sunbeds and pool entrance fees. There are always other options or sometimes I just sneak in.
Back at home, if someone told me I could pay £30 a night to stay in my own stunning bungalow on a idylic beach, with my own balcony, bathroom, hammock, and of course my own space. Id be silly not too!
For this… I’m saving myself over £20.
Even 20p adds up. Over 3 months that’s £180!
I walk down the road to a restaurant looking over the sunset, jungle behind me, listening to the ocean. I could pay £6 for a magnificent piece of fresh fish, a cheeky cocktail and a big bottle of water. At home, this would be sweet!
Not out here, that’s not for me.
I’ll save myself £5, had a huge yummy portion of street food made fresh in front of me, still eat on the beach with warmth and the ocean. The jungle is still behind me and I’m meeting people and having good food. For that one meal, that could get me 2 nights sleep in a hostel.
Fresh corn, cooked and served fresh on the beach with a smile… pricess.
I’m writing this after sleeping in a 2$ room last night in the middle of Sihounkville. I arrive off to boat from Koh Rong Samlaon, where I’ve had no hot running water and no wifi for 3 nights. I’ve not seen a supermarket, shop, resort, spa, fancy restaurant in a week. Let alone roads, cars, bikes and much sense of reality.
My dorm last night was a top bunk with two beds together, so I technically shared with a guy I had never met next to me. Funnily enough he never came home so had a little more space.
I was in a room with 7 guys I had never met, one dirty shared bathroom, one random locker and very little space which wasn’t the cleanest.
£1.40 ( $2) I payed.
I slept, was in the centre close by to atm machines, bars, shops, wifi. I met awesome people in my hostel who showed me an amazing veggie Indian cafe where I ate and drank for $5.
I didn’t need to waste my money on over priced things when I can still do the same thing for cheaper.
Ok, we all have to splash out a little.
I’ve booked two nights in my own room in Bangkok, I’ve had that meal and cocktail on the beach once or twice.
I have payed for cab’s when I could have walked and saved money, I have indulged on plenty of coffee and love going out for breakfast.
I could save money here, however I’ll not spend as much on beer, or find a cheaper hostel or find a cheaper alternative route another day.
It’s getting the balance, knowing when to splash out.
My favourite thing is, a lot of things traveling are free! Yes, free!!
A lot of photos I take with the best memories are things I was doing for free!!
So what I’m really spending my money is accommodation, food, water and transport.
I prioritied my diving course, my elephant trek. I prioritise breakfast over beer, better hostels over fancy meals.
The waterfalls are normally free, beaches are free and where I am now, there’s good weather all the time.
All these things can be affordable, we can find mega cheap options for them all. All the other things we choose to spend money on.
So what am I really spending?
I do a lot. I’m constantly on adventures, eating out, drinking fresh smoothies, riding around on mopeds, sleeping in hostels, venturing around, splashing out on breakfast, doing my laundry and occasionally buying toiletries or basic possessions.
Going for a swim in the ocean.Free
Exploring the local streets
Watching the sunset
Mopeds are cheap and my favourite thing to do is ride around just looking and exploring.
Ko Tao tests my driving skills
Ive voluntered which is so rewarding, you’re busy experiancing and they may feed you and offer drinks. Sometimes theyll give you accomadation is you work with them for a while.
I have a camera and a passion for photography. It doesn’t cost me to wonder around with my camera, I take my time, explore. Sometimes I just walk around with my headphones and watch the world go by.
Okay so I may stop at some point and get lunch or a drink. Find a little cafe with wifi but I’m not spending more then £2.
A game of cards is free, beer is cheap and there’s always somewhere cool to chill and good company around.
Around South East Asia laundry costs me £2 to get a huge load.
80p for a large fresh smoothie
Traveling on such low budget entitles us to appreciate things more. A nice hot shower, our own space, a nice hot good meal or even just staying somewhere with wifi and air con.
As mentioned in other blogs, budgeting is something we have to learn when traveling. It’s part of backpacking. As much I would love a lot more money to travel, like most people, it can still be done.
You don’t need tons of cash.
If you really struggled you could spend very very little.
Cheap isn’t always convinent.
It’s long bus journeys, unreliable public transport, hot dorms, shared accomadation, hard bunk beds.
I would love a big double bed on the ocean front, my own bathroom and the best and quickest transport but we make sacrifices.
We crack on with these things so we can travel. We overcome shitty situations and understand we won’t be living luxury. But our luxury lies in the destinations we visit and the opportunities we have. With the experiences we get while traveling only keep us pushing for ways to keep going.
What happenes when I run out?
Well, I hop on the flight I have already saved up and paid for over into Australia. I will be looking to find work almost straight away and know a few people who can help me with accomadation.
All over the world have different values in regards to money.
We have to pay more in England but we get higher wages. The dollar in Cambodia will get you more then anywhere in America however the wage is different.
Anyone can afford to travel. It’s just what you want to spend your money on.