- Prep before Splitting from Motherland to Mother Earth
- Packing for your Worldly Excursion
- Bang for your Bucks
- 11 Ways of Making Road Bucks
These are my guidelines -through trial and error (a lot of it)- to getting started on the road to relish in a lifestyle you’ve heard so much about.
Enjoy the little things. Pick your battles. Walk away from the crowd.
I remember being in a conversation with someone, somewhere -who knows where- and a young German gap year told me that she’d paid some ridiculous amount of cash to see some whale sharks off the Shark Bay coast of Western Australia. The whales never came. Instead of giving up, she paid a second time -only they gave her half price the kind folks- and went back out on the boat for a chance to dive around the whale sharks. It was something like 750 bucks after it was all said and done.
People talk about taking helicopters over beautiful landscapes and seeing it from another perspective. Sounds great, except that the fucking price of a helicopter is like buying a caravan for yourself -ok maybe not that much.
The thing is, I would love to have experienced everything under the sun and a few things I regret missing -jumping out of a plane over Lake Taupo- but life is not all about the Big Wows! It’s a cumulation of experience if you ask me and the view from here is :
You have so much time yet, with plenty out there to give you the thrills you seek. Consider that around the corner an opportunity might open up and offer you something absolutely unforgettable for no more than the cost of lunch -even in this day and age it is possible.
It’s about living your life on your terms and gathering knowledge through such endeavours; money doesn’t buy experience, or knowledge; it can give you a great time, but the memories, accumulated, last a lifetime.
Sure, you will learn what a whale shark looks like, or what Phi Phi Island looks like from overhead, but what has really been accomplished? Jolts of adrenaline, I totally get, and like I said : You never know whats around the corner, and that is the flat-out truth.
500 bucks gets you in a cage to go face to face with a Great White Shark. That same five hundred bucks will put me on the road for about 1 month. A whole month vs 45 minutes in a cage? But HOW can you make 500 bucks last A WHOLE MONTH!
Well, I can’t every month, but I can certainly try; and with the help of all these bureaucratic assholes jacking up visa fees through their grudges and bitternesses, things are certainly not getting easier!
I read a blog speaking about being able to live within a budget of 3000 USD or 2000 or even 1500 USD. This is ridiculous, seriously. 1500 (50 USD-a-day ?) should be your absolute maximum unless your diving three days a week in the Maldives (take a hammock and save a fortune) then taking a private yacht (instead of a waiting a while for a fishing boat) back to India, up to Goa middle of Xmas holidays with a bag full of mdma and cocaine (valium and k are terribly cheap in this neighbourhood) in a huge seaside bungalow (instead of shared with someone else a few hundred meters from the sea) and then jumping to New Zealand (check for stop-over flights and make an experience out of it) for a skydive and a bungee jump. Catch my drift?
When I first left Canada I blew all I had in a few weeks and was forced to get a job (I highly recommend against this approach). These days, that same amount would take me so much further, and maybe it’s not the lap of luxury, and maybe I’m not living it to the full extent, but ask anyone that knows me and they would disagree with that, no doubt. Fuck it man -you don’t need the lap of luxury! I’ll leave that to the rollie luggage, business class hot shots; never saw myself a Wolf of Wall Street anyhow. And to my shame, through these years, I have had a couple of small bail-outs from family (the love and support of your family is really essential for those tough breaks -and they will come I promise!).
- Do it Local. In places like Asia you can ride locally for a lot cheaper. Maybe you will be crammed into a little jeep made for midgets, but you’ll get to your destination eventually (you can always ride the roof). Local trains in general class; general class in India is so cheap. Ok, its not that ol’ lap of luxury, while in sleeper class its still not expensive and you get a bed, but how far do you want to stretch the duckets? And they will break down as well.. but again, the joys of a timeless journey.
- Hitch Hike. Time and again I will say it: you wanna save on your travel expenses it’s right there. ‘But I’m a girl!’ Well, I know a few ladies out there that took their chances from the Arctic and the east end of Turkey; baron and fucking rugged areas, alive and well, and appreciating humanity a whole lot more since. Bring a can of bear-mace. Find a travel buddy, they are everywhere -especially for a woman. I don’t advise women to run out and start hitch-hiking everywhere -at least without taking precautions and knowing what you are getting involved in- but you CAN, you really can and you’ll be fine. There is a saying in OZ, ‘you have as much a chance of being killed by a shark as you do a coconut falling on your head.’
- Ride Share Depending on where you are, the ride share environment will be different. In Commonwealth I already mentioned Gumtree. In Germany the program is very widely used and called Mitfahrgelegenheit. All over Europe (and outside of) you can find them using Bla Bla Car. The days of stopping into hostels to dig around for people heading in your direction have just gotten so much easier; problem is, petrol isn’t the same price as those days either.
- Ride a bicycle. This is huge in Europe. Everyone and their cousin is riding a bike across the continent (and further -Central Asia). Its cheap, its a moveable course with little necessary but roadways -even rough ones and you can carry on a lot more than walking.
- Walking-Trekking Man has been walking the earth since the dawn of existance. We’ve forgotten about our feet in the last hundred or so years, since Henry Ford came along. But they are there, and trust me, walking across a country is something so damn gratifying it beats the shit out of watching from a cruise-ship window; just look at the 50, 000 people walking the Camino de Santiago each year now.
- Fishing Boats This one is tricky, and can take a very long time and a lot of patience -more than hitch-hiking- for if you want to take a boat and pay little (or nothing at all), you’ll either need crew experience, or offer something else to the crew like cooking -or have breasts, which will likely turn pretty ugly after a short amount of time I’m sure. But small trips, you can find fishermen going your way and throw em a couple bucks. And there are, like cheap airlines selling off open seats, sites for cheap boat-fares. You can also consider getting a job on a boat; work, get some experience and take that with you on the road: Find a Boat Crew
I understand that each person has their own gauge of what is dangerous or not, and this is a sliding scale. There is risk in everything we do. I am simply trying to lay out, basically, the cheapest -yet enticing- ways to stretch that squrilla on the road around the globe.
Banks -getting you with their fees
Likely someone will track me down after reading this… and I’m not going to get into detail, but when I was trotting around a lot between OZ and Asia, I was pulling out money from machines. This ended up costing a shit load of dollars. Find an International Bank before you leave home! Or put the big stash somewhere, a monthly one somewhere, a weekly one somewhere else, and a few bucks in your pocket.
*Try to keep your pack close to you. Too many people have lost money from putting them on rooves and having someone jump aboard and help themselves. You will get in arguements to keep your pack near… but most importantly, on the bus, keep that cash near (and somewhere no one will be looking anytime soon i.e undies).
Face it, sometimes your place is going to stink, a few bedbugs are going to appear, or a snake might end up under your cot. Maybe the toilet will look like something out of a horror film. Maybe the bed itself will feel like a steel plate, or a concrete block. But sometimes you gotta make do, even if that means sleeping under a bridge.
There are squats to be found if you look close enough; you don’t have to be a rocket scientist for these affairs, but you do have to buckle down, risk a little, and let go of that ‘comfort zone’ some. That’s why you left, after all!
In Europe most of my sleeping has been with mates (thankfully for that guys, thank you) or in my tent in bushes, or in parks -even in major cities like Barcelona and Rome (botanical garden is incredible). There has been Couchsurfing for years now, even before this site, decades have seen people surfing couches -it’s nothing new. You don’t need a couchsurfing site to find a place to crash, just open up and chat to people, be kind; the rest will unfold.
I personally, rarely, use the couchsurfing site because its got a lot of prejudice between men and women, for obvious reasons, and since the late nineties I’ve been hopping on and off couches, so yea it’s easy enough, but sometimes easy comes with a price. While using the sleepover option of couchsurfing.com I don’t recommend, I do recommend finding a couchsurfing meeting in the cities you go to meet people along the way -and then a host through that.
I can tell you how much a beer costs in every country I’ve been, and based on this you can also make an assumption on how hard it’s going to be on your wallet. There have been hundreds of festivals I have missed, and likely shouldn’t have… but it’s all about what is important to you. If Festivals are important to you, consider getting a volunteer job. And if you don’t drink you are so far ahead of the game its unregisterable for some of us. But for those of us who do drink from time to time, we have to consider the battles we fight.
- Down under (OZ-NZ) – Goon. Bags of wine that will dummy you time and again down under -and leave you with a horrendous headache. This is the best and most horrible way to avoid spending bucket loads of cash on a night out.
- In Asia? For the most part you are looking at Rice Wine (or coconut wine) from the corner shop or an imitation bottle of whiskey maybe, or at the least avoid the bars and drink at the base of a waterfall.
These are two examples I am giving to show that everywhere you go there is always a cheaper option; it has its positives and negatives. You can sneak into bars with little bottles of spirits, and it works. But if you get caught, I’ve heard a couple times -especially in K.L- that you will end up with your face a bit ugly in the back streets; I’ve done it plenty -I advise this approach especially in Thessaloniki.
There are parts of the world where all you have to do is turn over one rock and get a long stick of chariss for little. Times are changing and your chances of getting decent opium are becoming more and more rare. Pharmacies are no longer selling everything under the sun over the counter in Cambodia for example. Everyone is catching up with those damn United States of ruinin’ a good time.
*Be very careful when transporting from place to place, and this is very serious. Don’t forget a stack of coco leaves in your pack when you leave Bolivia, for example. Be aware of what you are carrying before you get on a plane anywhere. And I recommend avoiding everything in Indonesia (except the Arak, beer and shakes), I say the same for a few of the other super right-wing governments. You don’t want to end up in jail for ten years (or life) for a stick of hash you ‘forgot about’.Cheap Flights
Keep an eye out (and an ear) for flights; from time to time stop into a cafe or onto your phone and look at one of the different sites, like Skyscanner. There is a new site I recently heard about going back and forth between U.K and Canada, Canadian Affair . There are cheap airlines everywhere. Lion Air (Philippines), Air Asia, JetStar (Oz-Nz), Tiger Airways (based in Singapore), Ryanair (Europe), Easyjet (Europe), and so on and so forth.
They will try to get you with fees, but you can take all the sharp things out of your pack and give them to someone else with check-in. You can wear all your clothes at once; you can squeeze your pack up and pull in the straps; you can carry on and swing by with your sleeping bag hanging off your shoulder. They have these fees to fuck us, and its our job as citizens of the world to step across these hurdles and beat them at their game. Its up to us!
When flying between continents consider stopovers using middle-eastern flights. They have very cheap deals when you stop in Dubai, Jeddah or Doha and switch planes. Keep it in mind!
Food – Everyone’s gotta eat
The simplest solution to this one is eat locally; sometimes it’s not gonna be a ceremony for the pallette; sheep’s milk, flat bread and semi-fried potatoes every day in Jordan, for example. Sheep’s everything and two-three vegetables in Mongolia.
Options for the average save-on? It’s time to shake off the pride and man up to the road-life-type:
- Lidl (Continental super-grocer from Germany) in Europe -horrible but cheap!
- Dumpster Diving You can also score huge at Lidl for this. Honestly, hit the dumpsters on the right day and you can cash in hard with free food.
- Soup-Kitchens You are not poor, and you don’t need to steal from those in need of these resources, but sometimes, you will also need this.
- Empty the share shelves of hostels You don’t even need to stay in a hostel to get to the shared shelves. That’s what it’s there for, for you! It’s to help those with less, who are on the road to everywhere!
Your pack is prepared like I mentioned in Packing for your Worldly Excursion, so you can cook anywhere you want with the help of a grocery shop. This is the best possible thing you can do to save on cash; eat in a park; get that cutting board out and knife and boil some pasta under a tree.
There are always cheap options around! Find them and use them a while til you get sick of them -and you will. And finally, I love to eat! Love it. And thankfully I worked as a career cook for nearly a decade so i can cook pretty well. But I would love to eat out and try the delicious things everywhere, and sometimes I do –but pick your battles yo. Like for example, mates of mine were blasting into huge mud crabs in Goa, and I thought, ‘Damn, I want one of those!’ But it was out of my reach -and unnecessary. So I will wait til that crab finds its way into my lap from a metal bucket. And the next day I found some beautiful shell fish from a little dhaba (local eatery in India) for hella cheap.
*Food Awareness : You will likely get dysentry once or twice (or eight times like me if you’re lucky). Times will feel very hard if you are alone, puking in a plastic bag beside your bed, but they will also pass by and you’ll be stronger for it -and so will your stomach. It’s a hard one, and can be very scary, but for the most part it will pass after a little bit of pissing out the ass. You can take some antibiotics -I did- and they will help temporarily, but if you are out here long-term, your body needs to build up a tolerance. And avoid drinking water whenever there is the smallest hint of doubt.
Tourist Fees -and there’s plenty of these
There are certain things that you will not be able to avoid, especially with guards around holstering semi-automatic weapons. There are other times where you can avoid paying. It’ll take some of that savvy cunning, but with a little bit of risk and grit you’ll beat these fuckers out of their extortion and save yourself a few bucks -and feeling great about it too! Stick it to the man damn it!
Petra. There is Little Petra, and its about 10 kilometers from the backend of Petra. It took me hours to find my way, and I had to do some down climbing too, plus a small run, away from a local on a donkey. It wasn’t easy but I saved a butt-load on that one.
Polonnaruwa. With our bike stashed in the bushes we managed to walk straight into this big park area and avoid the fee. Locals were walking around asking people if they had tickets -after they noticed our bike- but we squeezed out of it without a hitch. Well… I had to crawl through the bushes on my tummy, with the bike beside me on the ground, for about 500 meters, but it saved us 20 bucks each!
Prambanan/Borobodur. Under a gate four of us squeezed into the Borobodur temple without being noticed and saving a sum of moneyt hat is absolutely ridiculous for the size of this place. At Prambanan, with the help of my lover -and her ticket in- I managed to get in with ease and avoid the fee.
These are a few examples of the capacity that we can accomplish with a little bit of effort. At Ankor Wat I didn’t even think of dodging the fee, as they do use it -apparently- for the upkeep of the place. It’s huge and beautiful and worth it. Other places, costing the same, are just outright exploiting and I can’t stand that shit. So fuck it! Take a chance and walk away a winner -I hope for you anyhow.
That’s the lowdown, through and through Good luck with it all, and breaking down those walls you created over years of living in comfort and cushion. The sooner you get your clothes down to a couple of sleeveless T’s and a pair of fishermen pants, the quicker you’ll get to a 500-a-mth budget (15 dollars-a-day).