Bang for your buck

Cheap travels: They might suck. For some of us.

 

“You don’t need a lot of money to travel the world”

You’ve seen those articles about cheap travels all over the web. Just reading them will make you picture yourself as a modern bare feet hippie with dresses the colors of sunset and feathers in your long, golden, wavy hair (yup, even you guys) with a wallet empty of cash but full of inspirational quotes about meditation, positive energies and love. And you’ll travel the world for months just like that, happier than ever. (A bit like this)

‘’If I can travel with less than $10 a day, so can you!’’

Yes, it is possible! I have traveled for less than $100 a month in Brazil. No, not everyone can do it!
I’m sorry if I’ll ruin some of your dreams but – come on – we all know it’s not gonna be fun and games all the time. Let’s be honest, traveling on the cheap is not for everyone.

First of all, forget the shiny feathers in your hair. Unless you’ve just picked up some random chicken feathers on the streets. The wavy hair is probably turning into dreadlocks by the 2nd week you are on the road. As there is no space for fancy clothes in your bag you’ll be wearing the same shorts and t-shirt for weeks. – But we don’t care about that. Let’s focus on the essential here.

If you plan on giving it a try anyways, know that:

  • Some people swear they live by cheap travels, then brag about the diving course they took in Thailand. Wait. What? Either that diving course was paid by some extra savings, either they spent the rest of the week eating cockroaches.
  • I don’t care if you paid your NYC helicopter flight 250 bucks instead of 400. A good deal doesn’t make it a cheap deal.
  • Going to restaurants instead of street-food stands isn’t really part of the plan anymore, regardless of how scared you are of being stuck in the toilet for a week.

 

All right, still motivated to do it?

 

Awesome! Now, do you want to read about the reality of traveling on the cheap?
This is what I have experienced, am experiencing and will still experience in the future.
You should be able to budget.
As much as trying to find a place to pitch a tent every night, budgeting will become your top priority. You’ll think about it all the time. How much do I have left? Can I afford that? What if I buy this?
If you need any help with that, check out YNAB or a good ol’ Excel file will do.

Be prepared to make concessions.
You dream about seeing the Grand Canyon? Oh, but wait, have you heard about the clear blue waters of the Havasupai Falls? You’d like to see the Machu Picchu next month? Well, know that the most beautiful places all have a price tag and these well-known beauties of the world are rarely cheap. Add up all the entry passes and/or camping fees and you’ll be over 50 dollar before you know. That is, if you do it by yourself. Go through a travel agency and you can triple the price.

Your choices are not unlimited anymore, which can be frustrating at times.
Some of you will say “but it’s always possible to work your way around”. It probably is but again at some cost.

I have tried a couple of times to go on tours or go to places without paying the tourist price while I traveled in Brazil. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve once had to wait 3 days on a harbor, pleading fisherman and tour operators to take us with them at no cost before someone finally took pity of us.

Decide how you want to travel.
When you try to make it through the day with very little money, you’ll most likely have to hitchhike, sleep in a tent, do some Couchsurfing or find shared rides on Craigslist.
[Here’s a very good article about share economy websites while on the road!]

If you’re more the laid-back type who isn’t in a rush, your thumb and tent will be your best friends (I’m sorry if you lost your thumbs.) The only problem here is; planning becomes hard. Because you never know how fast, or how slowly, you will travel. Don’t even think about arriving at an over-crowded place, like the Grand Canyon, and hope to get a permit right away. Nope, months of planning necessary.

If you love planning your trips neatly, it will be a lot easier to find hosts on Couchsurfing. Same with shared rides. On the other hand, you might miss out on amazing experiences because your schedule didn’t allow you to stay that extra not planned night or week. Just like you’ll miss amazing experiences by not having planned and bought the necessary permits in advance.

Either way, you have to find the right balance and think about what you’re really looking for.

You’ll need the power of saying NO to your deepest desires.
You are just about the engage a long and difficult fight against your own brain and its endless armies of psychological cravings. And you are his number one target.
A comfy bed. A warm bath. A juicy hamburger. That new summer dress. You think you NEED them (come on guys…). Not tomorrow, nor the day after. Now.

Willpower. Easier said than done. It’s a constant struggle. Like when you see that big fat reddish and white pimple in the middle of your forehead. You want to give it a nice and firm squeeze, but you know you shouldn’t. Having just a little willpower is hard enough already, and you’ll need a lot of it.

Just imagine the situation:
You ate the worst, cheapest noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past two weeks because you listened to our tips pretty well.
You get into a town and the smell of that crusty four cheese pizza is just pulling you inside the restaurant and you want to get a large pie just for yourself.
NO. Same for that motel with that huge king-size bed after all these super comfy nights on that sleeping pad in your tent.

Keep it cool. Breathe in. (And out. We wouldn’t want you to suffocate)
Living an adventurous lifestyle is great. You meet tons of amazing people, mostly travelers who understand what you are doing and why. And then you meet other people. Some who’ll give you the finger from behind their windshield, or insult you for no apparent other reason than the fact that ‘they don’t like travelers’. You’ll meet weirdos asking you the strangest things, especially when you are a woman. People will think you are homeless and give you disdainful looks.
You’ll have to learn to ignore them and not letting them get to you.

You’ll also meet plenty of people with different opinions than yours. Some you can understand. Some will frustrate you. Some will want you to take their brains out and replace them with fresh ones.
Remember: deep breathing.

Know yourself and your limits. (We’re almost there, hurray!)
By always forcing yourself to say no, or to choose between this or that, you’ll get frustrated. And that’s the risk of traveling on the cheap. Don’t forget that you are on the road to enjoy, not to be unsatisfied and grumpy. So don’t be too hard on yourself.

And lastly, be open for a lot of self -reflection and introspection.
The joys and drawbacks of traveling will make you see the world differently. Realize that you might have had it wrong just a day before for instance. You have qualities but also flaws. Learn to identify them and once you’ve done that, start accepting them.
Traveling will make you grow in a lot of ways. Each day you’ll learn a little bit more. Whether it be about the city you’re in, about history, religion, a friend or yourself.

Speaking of which, start by asking yourself this question:
Am I really ready or made to travel on the cheap?
And if you’re not, there is nothing wrong with that. You’ll just have to save up a little more money.
 

Read now and find out if traveling on the cheap is made for you. It's not that easy! - http://takoyacki.com

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39 Comments

  • Reply
    GirlAstray
    March 25, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    This is a really good article. I am tired of all those “travel the world for 50 dollars a day” guides (Sorry, Nomadic Matt) – it´s only some of the westerners who have that much and the rest of us get by with a lot less. Obviously, a lot less fancy too – no pretty instagrammable dresses in my backpack definitely 😀 I´ve travelled for a month in California last year and spent around 400 dollars which I didn´t even think was possible before – but I enjoyed myself a lot more. To travel when you´re rich gets kind of boring. With your kind permission, I´d like to share this post on my twitter 🙂

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      March 26, 2016 at 12:28 am

      50 dollars a day is crazy high. I always estimate my budget to be the same as the average income of the country I’m in, which allows me to experience life like it is there.
      I’m sometimes even ashamed of the tourists throwing their money all around and showing off while on the next street there are people struggling to buy food for their families.

      It’s really motivating to see that you like the article, of course you can share it! 🙂

      And no fancy dresses for me either! Just recently a friend asked my boyfriend why I always wore the same t-shirt on every picture hahaha

      • Reply
        Aimee
        April 15, 2016 at 8:19 am

        Well if you stay in one place then you definitely can spend less. But I’ve read his book and he even admits that he can spend way less than that. But he did take into account the very expensive areas of the world too such as Australia/NZ. In SEA you can obviously spend a fraction of what you would in those places. He also balances it out. Okay a $250 dollar dive course spread out over months or even years of travel doesn’t really have a huge impact once you decide to average it out.

        You don’t have to travel like a typical tourist but you don’t have to be a hobo either. I managed to pack 12 different shirts/tops into a medium sized packing cube in my 38L bag and that works for me. No need for me to look/feel like a hobo. Not like I’m busting my budget on clothing items. Just don’t understand why you have to make it sound so hard to travel affordably and comfortably.

        You just have to travel slow, budget carefully, and plan for the big expenses. Easy

  • Reply
    Brenda
    March 26, 2016 at 12:39 am

    I must admit that I dont truly like these guide that sets a budget. Everyone spends different! What is “on budget” for me, is not for others. I like to analyze every year what Lonely Planet says its cheap based on the cost of life in the place but hey! not everyone like to travel with luxuries, and not everyone can travel everytime just eating microwave fold

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      March 26, 2016 at 1:04 am

      Exactly, to each their own.
      Can you link me to that Lonely Planet article? I’m quite curious to see what they have to say.

  • Reply
    Hanna
    March 26, 2016 at 10:54 am

    It is really good article! That’s true, not everyone can travel on a budget. I’m going to try this year for a long term 😉 However, there are things I’ll just have to find some money for. I always wanted to take a Trans-Siberian train in Russia and to make this dream come true I’ll have to organize some money.

    I think it’s all about setting our priorities – do we want just to be in another country and move from one place to another, or do we really want to visit some places there. I do so I don’t mind taking an extra work during the trip to fund myself what I really want (and it’s not a new dress or a warm bath). But I just want to feel after my trip that I saw some places in the world. 🙂

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      March 27, 2016 at 1:51 am

      Exactly, setting priorities is the most important thing to do. And if your priority is having fun and enjoying your time; definitely go for whatever makes you happy! As long as you can afford it. 😉

      Good luck on your year-long trip!! Where are you heading?

  • Reply
    Shobha George
    March 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Good points! Some people say they want to travel but don’t have the funds or the discipline to give up their comforts. If you want something badly enough, you will make it happen. Just maybe not as you pictured.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      March 27, 2016 at 1:53 am

      Indeed! Completely agree with you!

  • Reply
    miguel
    March 28, 2016 at 1:15 am

    You are a genius!!! Great web site and amazing and exciting trip. Once again i wish you the best and see you again in a short future.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      March 28, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      Thanks Miguel!! Glad you’re enjoying reading our blog we’ll definitely meet again my friend!

  • Reply
    Karlie @ Miss Wanderlust
    March 28, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Love your writing style! Very funny. I LOLd at “sorry if you lost your thumbs.”

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      March 28, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Hahaha glad you enjoy it! and thanks for the kind words

  • Reply
    Lennae Stubbs
    March 29, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Loved your post, so true too!

    Lennae xxx
    http://www.lennaesworld.com

  • Reply
    sellallyourstuff
    April 7, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    We don’t normal travel on the cheap, but we did just live in the US for $30 per day for a couple. We were in no way trying to do it that cheaply it just happened and we had one of the best months of our travels so far.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 15, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Awesome! Where did you go in the US? We try to average at about $10 a day for the both of us.

  • Reply
    majestazea
    April 16, 2016 at 10:28 am

    I love this post! I am not a huge fan of cheap travel, but I think the life of a Concierge and free experiences spoils you and creates this want for fancy experiences. It’s a tough line for me to walk when you want to travel, but don’t want to stay in hostels.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 17, 2016 at 3:12 am

      I understand. I guess it’s to each their own. But if you have the opportunity, you gotta try it sometime! It’s really a rewarding experience. 🙂

  • Reply
    Akid Zolkifli
    April 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    You’ve definitely hit the nail on the head. I feel (I may be wrong) cheap travel is more common when you are younger / studying / university and then when you can start to afford it (when you’re older you start splashing out a little for more comforts in your life. Everyone is completely different, however living on a budget can add more to the experience. I met a guy who was a millionaire travelling and he found that he lost all the desire to do it anymore as he could just buy everything he wanted. Sometimes limitations is part of the appeal! Great article.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 17, 2016 at 3:16 am

      I don’t believe that’s true for us to be honest. We do this type of travel by choice. For instance, when we’re hitchhiking and waiting two hours for a ride, we often go like “god we should get a car next time” but right at the moment we get picked up and meet yet ANOTHER amazing person, we wouldn’t go with a car for anything in the world. It’s an extremely rewarding experience and you make friends for life!

  • Reply
    Sher
    April 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    yeah everyone has a different idea of what budget means so it’s hard to judge!

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 17, 2016 at 3:17 am

      Yeah definitely, it’s to each their own! What type of travel do you enjoy?

  • Reply
    One More Backpacker
    April 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Travelling on the cheap is not for everyone indeed. When we were in Southeast Asia, we tried eating street food as much as we could in order to save some dollars, but after 2 months eating rice and noodles you get tempted to buy a bit more expensive western food. It depends on how adaptable you are.

    Great article!
    – Dani

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 17, 2016 at 3:19 am

      I understand. I (Kenzi) am tempted by food A LOT! Especially when we’re hiking for over 100 miles and eat shitty dried mix Knorr pasta for a week, it gets tough not to get tempted as soon as we’re back in town. Back when we were in Bali, we LOVED the street food! Nazi goreng for life ✌

  • Reply
    Nathan
    April 17, 2016 at 8:04 am

    I have hosted Couchsurfers that left home with a $0 budget for accommodation. If they couldn’t find a Couchsurfing host they camped. I think I may have been able to do travel like this when I was young but now that I’m in my mid-30’s I don’t think it’s for me! I’m addicted to bit of comfort. Not luxury, but comfortable!

    http://www.foodieflashpacker.com

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 18, 2016 at 3:37 am

      Yeah it’s crazy to be able to do that! We try as much as possible but from time to time you can’t resist the comfort of a king-size bed and a bathtub. (like the one in Patagonia )
      And it’s tough for us to Couchsurf because it requires planning, and we do not do that, AT ALL.

      It’s nice you have been hosting couchsurfers!

  • Reply
    Carol Colborn
    April 17, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Used to love cheap travel but now that we are on the last decade(s) of our life, we plan to live it up a little. But I still rejoice when I find a bargain!

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 18, 2016 at 3:40 am

      I completely understand that. Our way of traveling will probably change over the years too but now we really enjoy it 🙂

  • Reply
    Christine Maguire (@thetraveloguer)
    April 17, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Great post. Budget travel is how I normally do things, but it’s not without its downsides!

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 18, 2016 at 3:56 am

      I can’t do anything but agree on this! 🙂

  • Reply
    Connie Reed
    April 18, 2016 at 2:56 am

    Budget travel means different things to different people. At my age (over 60) I look for bargains on accommodations, meals and transportation when I travel, I don’t mind some inconveniences, but I don’t want to cut my budget to the point that I’m completely uncomfortable, either. Nor will I compromise on safety. I may not be able to travel as extensively as someone who travels on a shoestring budget, but that’s just my preference.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 18, 2016 at 3:44 am

      Definitely! This was just a wake up call to all those guides you find promising it is easy to travel for almost nothing. As we’ve been doing it we understand it is not for everyone. Even we get tired of it sometimes and Kenzi is even really bad at it haha.

      Everyone has different purposes when traveling too, which is completely normal!

  • Reply
    Jessica Ayun
    April 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    This might not be totally related but better share with you. In traveling, airfares cover a big part in budgeting.I found a god deal flight in skyscanner and it directed me to budget air. I booked the flight two weeks ago and until now, I haven’t received the confirmed tickets. I’ve been sending mails but only the auto-reply responded. I tried to call as well but no one was picking up. My flight will be in two days and it’s driving me crazy. So better to book directly to the airlines’ site and avoid stress from these third party services. That’s my first time to do it and will definitely not do it again. Cheap travels still vary. A practical travel is way better! 🙂

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 19, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      Yeah it’s better to always trust the company you’re going to travel with or look for reviews of people’s experience with them. I’m sorry for this mess. Can you let me know how it goes tomorrow?

  • Reply
    Tom
    April 18, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I agree with a lot of what you say, but it really does depend on the person I guess. I struggled eating just street food in Asia, I was craving western food after a few weeks. However, it helped me save a bit of cash, so it was worth it!

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Yeah it definitely depends on the person. Kenzi for one is bad at it but Lily is super good in that case.

  • Reply
    Tiger Shah
    May 6, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    My airfare Chicago to Berlin, then Sofia (Bulgaria) to Chicago is $341 (in september)

    I can get 4 star lodgings for $50 a night for three of us. When you plan the BIG discounts, that leaves money for daily enjoyment. Museum entry, etc.

    That’s my theory of budget travel…I’ve been to 23 countries, and visit europe once a year or so.

    • Reply
      Takoyacki
      May 6, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Wow, that’s crazy cheap indeed.
      Which company are you flying with?

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