Monday, November 21, 2011

Indie Travel: Budget

Monday, November 21, 2011

Every traveler has a budget; for some it just might be higher of lower than for others. What’s your style? What do you spend very little on and what are you always willing to pay more for? (Budget – Day 18 of the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project

If I had enough funds, I would travel around the world. Who wouldn’t? But just like everyone else, my funds are limited for all the traveling I yearn to do. It takes me a year to save up for a major trip, and there is always the need to keep my travel expenses within a tight budget. While on the road, I learned several things that not only save me money but also add flavor to the whole travel experience:

Traveling by land 

I believe in slow travel, and traveling by bus or train is the best way to see the countryside as well as those places that we miss when flying from one tourist destination to another. The routes are often so dramatic that I hardly ever notice the ride’s bumps and jolts or the fact that I could have arrived 10 hours earlier if I paid three times more for a plane ticket. 

It was during a 12-hour bus ride from Cuzco to Arequipa when I experienced the most terrifying yet thrilling moments of my life away from home. The grandeur of century-old ruins, the sumptuous taste of chupe de camarones and the splendor of colonial architecture would soon fade from memory but how I felt during that unforeseen evening will remain. 

Scrounging for online airfare sales 

It pays to keep track of airline sales. Most of the local airlines give as much as 50% discount on airfare. Taking advantage of these online sales and booking early save me a lot of money. Joining organized tours Organized tours can be really blah. You are herded like cattle and forced to listen to a tour guide who speaks in some form of English that you can hardly understand. Because of economies of scale, however, joining tours oftentimes entails less cost and trouble than the taking-a-cab-and-getting-lost way of exploring a city. A couple of years ago we decided to join a multiday tour from Saigon to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat and then back to Saigon. The tour price included all meals, transportation, entrance fees and accommodation. Some friends of mine followed exactly the same route but they did it on their own. They ended up spending four times the price we paid. 

Traveling independently 

Employing the services of a tour agency where every single item on the itinerary is subject to order and uniformity curtails spontaneity. The ease and luxury we pay for in organized tours substitute for the thrill and adventure we get from independent travel. We may save more by joining tours, but we lose the freedom and excitement that comes only with independent travel. 

Staying at boutique hotels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts and backpacker hostels 

I prefer to stay at boutique hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts. They possess that certain vitality lacking in the boring sameness of expensive chain hotels. We once stayed at a dingy backpacker hostel in Kuala Tahan: The toilet was horrifying; the sheets were unwashed, the air-conditioning unit works in spurts; the whole place stank of durian. Yet we had the best time there compared to all of the places we stayed at during our three weeks in Malaysia. 

Eating where locals eat 

I enjoy the breakfast buffets offered by most hotels, but aside from that we rarely eat at hotels or upscale restaurants. It’s more fun to eat where the locals eat - market places, side streets and corners, neighborhood stores, nondescript shops. It’s where we can sample authentic local cuisine without paying an exorbitant price.


Loree said...

I totally agree about eating with the locals and taking a train or a bus. I am not really into organised tours but, as you said, they are cheaper most of the time.

artemis said...

sounds to me you are becoming a full-pledged backpacker!

Angeli said...

@artemis: idol nga kita eh! you are the ultimate backpacker. but i'm still a tourist through and through. hahahah

Kayni said...

i plan my travel around local food. i'm not satisfied until i taste the local food of the area i'm visiting.

Angeli said...

oh yeah. the local food makes traveling extra fun. :)

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