August 1, 2014
As I have touched on a few of my other blog’s I have been travelling the world in one guise or another for a very long time and the most common question I get asked is how much does it cost? There is never an easy answer to this question, experience has taught me to look at this question from another angle….how much money do I have to play with? Most of us will know just how much money we will have, once the return flight has been booked, it is then that you must work out a budget and to do so you must understand what makes you ‘Tick’.
For my part I do not travel for the sake of getting another stamp in my passport, or another T-shirt featuring yet another beach name. When I arrive in a country I want to immerse myself in its culture, its food, its uniqueness, I have no interest in rushing from place to place, (I have done all that in the past) You see I know what makes me happy and I admit I like both my booze and food and would rather spend money on these, rather than take a tour surrounded by ‘twittering holiday makers’.
I have found that while you can save a money on accommodation, transport, food and booze by scrimping on every baht, you can very quickly lose sight of why you started your adventure in the first place, I would rather sit with people over a beer and a good meal, filling my senses, with what’s going on around me, than to sit alone sipping a bottle of water.
I am not talking about drinking an expensive bottle of wine or eating a juicy steak dinner every day but nor am I talking about a stick of grilled chicken intestines and a sip of the worst locally brewed Mekhong (Thai Whiskey), there is a balance and you have to know in advance what you can stomach before you work on what your budget can stretch too.
I prefer to arrive at my next destination with a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye rather, than trying to save a few pennies by travelling long distances in the oldest, most rickety, smelly, cattle truck, you would not put condemned animals on. I know I can hear people shouting “that’s what backpacking is all about” not in my book it ain’t, I do travel on local transport for short journeys and I do get it, but on long journeys I never now go the cheapest route. What is the point, of eventually getting to your next destination (normally hours later than the time table suggested), to find the journey has left you feeling drained and ready to find fault with the whole world and worse still to find the next hostel is closed or the bed you had reserved was re-sold hours prior to you getting there. In my opinion it is of course worth having the pictures and a memory of seeing the type of transport I mention here, but spending hours in miserable silence riding in one, to me is simply something that I can no longer suffer, hey that’s me.
I would rather stay in accommodation that offers the amenities I want, why stay in a place where there is no air con just to save yourself 100 Baht, why try sleeping on a stained floor mat sharing the room with the insect life, never getting more than a few hours’ sleep because of the heat or the traffic noise coming from the open window that provides the only form of ventilation, just so you can spend yet another day trying to eke out an existence.
Don’t forget you will be spending around 20-30% of your adventure in some form of accommodation, be that asleep or awake, would you seriously book a trip knowing that 30% of your time you would be peed off?
If you add up all of the savings you can make by ‘roughing it’ all the time it does not amount to much in light of the miserable conditions you may find yourself. There is a balance and it takes time to find it, so knowing what makes you ‘Tick’ before you start your adventure is essential.
In my view it is better to plan a shorter trip than to just survive, that’s when a basic budget is invaluable.
Do your research on transport, accommodation, food and dare I say on what booze costs and budget accordingly. We are all different and your plans will be your own, but the budget will be the budget whatever you set out to do and see. Use a free budget planner on your phone and or tablet and try to stick to it, things will change that’s inevitable and you can always rebalance the books by changing your future plans, but without a budget you will be like so many others and will be returning home long before you planned to do so. Do see my article on a basic out-line of a Travel Plan and my Wish List in travelling around Thailand
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
See my other blog Over Planning = Stress