When young travelers visit exotic places, there is a misconception that they have to bum it just to survive. I’ve met many budget travelers who scrape by on a mere $10 a day, but while this frugality is certainly impressive, many are denying themselves the diverse offerings of a country. Do you really want to go to an island and not eat fresh seafood or miss out on historical sites because of the entry cost? It is important to find a balance between saving money and fully experiencing a destination.
The following is a small list of things you just have to spend money on while traveling:
To experience a culture immersively is to indulge in its cuisine.
By all means, cook for yourself in the hostel kitchen a couple nights a week to save a few bucks, but don’t deny yourself the delicacies of a country. Are you really going to miss out on French cheese, German beer, Italian pasta, Spanish paella or the rich curries and spices of Southeast Asia? Honestly, if you skip out on these culinary delights, you are only cheating yourself.
A three day pass to the temples of Angkor is $40. The cost of a diving certification in the Philippines is between $350 and $400.
Basically, everything worth doing costs money. Money can’t buy happiness, but experiences that money can buy bring stimulation and fulfillment. It’s all about allocating your money to the right things.
Experiences unique to each destination do sometimes need to be purchased. On the bright side, they oftentimes cost less than what you would pay in your home country. Factor these expenses into your budget and work around them accordingly- it’s just so,ehing you have to do.
In less developed countries, transportation comes in tiers. In China for example, you can pay around $25 for a two hour high speed train ride, or far less for a slow train without air conditioning and squatter toilets. Somewhere in between is generally what I go for.
For long journeys especially, splurge a bit for that sleeper bus or train. I’ve heard amusing stories of fragrant bathrooms, unsanitary seats and in one case, free flowing juice from live seafood being transported.
I promise you will not regret it.
I’ve stayed in incredible hostels and they still leave much to be desired. Most recently, at a hostel that cost $2 per night in Sihanoukville, there was an incident in the neighboring dorm room where someone pooped on the bathroom floor. Seriously.
Cheaper is not always better. To avoid situations like this, pay a few extra dollars for a decent hostel with good recommendations online. Good hostels generally include a common room, lockers, air conditioning and overall livable conditions.
For myself, I choose one souvenir that I collect in each country. I brought back gorgeous sarongs from my last trip to Bali and colorful bracelets woven on the beach by Cambodian girls in Sihanoukville. Other good lightweight options include rings, pendants, small figurines and beautiful foreign textiles!
You don’t need to buy a statue or spend millions of dollars, but you will want something to remember your trip by in the future.