In my opinion, budget travel means knowing what you’re spending your money on. It means knowing the difference between buying a service, and being sold something.
A good deal of the travel industry isn’t geared toward the enrichment of the traveller’s experience; it focused on the enrichment of the industry’s bottom line. There is a prevailing attitude of, “Go first class, all the way. If you can’t, save up and go when you can afford first class all the way.”
I believe what people expect in their travels is to learn about other places and cultures, see and experience something they have never seen or done before, taste delicious food and have the most amazing time. From sun-kissed beaches and exciting cities, to snow-capped mountains and untamed savannahs, we all want to discover the World of Adventure!
But what if our expectations are not met? Do we strive for more or settle with less? When you’re at home, do you,
- require a fresh bath towel, every day?
- expect other to dance for your amusement and entertainment?
- live in a five-star hotel?
- expect your toilet to be sanitized every day, and provided with a paper sash proving so?
Why, then do people expect this when travelling? Because we want to maximise what we can get for the money we paid.
It’s easy, far too easy, to unknowingly use your money to buy a wall that separates you from what you claim you came to see.
Therein, lies the essence of budget travel.
- Knowing what your needs truly are, and not buying above them.
- Becoming a temporary local.
- Satisfying you curiosity, not your ego.
- Seeking out a more meaningful experience in you travels.
- Joining in the experiences of everyday life.
- Getting the “natives” to dance with you, rather than for you.
Mind you, it can still be expensive as hell, but it will be money well spent. As time goes on, you’ll know you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
Often this requires you to set a budget, make compromises, and economise in ways you may be unaccustomed to. These things too, add to the enrichment of you travel experience.
And at last, few travel hacks from me:
- Always roll your clothes; don’t fold them. You’ll find a world of space.
- Don’t carry more clothes than you need. Keep it to a bare minimum.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Credit/Debit cards are safer. In case you get mugged, you can always contact your card service provider.
- People forget how important a pen is. Always carry 2 ball point pens with you. It can even serve as a defensive weapon.
- Keep scanned copies of your identity cards and passport in your email and on your phone in case of emergency.
- Always carry painkillers in your bag/rucksack.
In the words of John Lydon, “Don’t let them tell you what you want. Don’t let them tell you what you need.” If you do there truly is, “no future for you.”
If you are looking for recommendations to travel abroad on a budget, I’m happy to tell you that there are a number of places around the world where you can go. But here are the top 5 places in Europe that I believe are worth visiting if you’re on a budget.