Back in 2003, I went on the trip of a lifetime. One year of backpacking over 5 continents, something crazy like 30+ countries, and seeing places I had never seen.
I was back then just fresh out of business school, and as you may recall, my company paid for my degree and I also had a scholarship, so I was able to graduate with around $25,000.
Except I decided that instead of blowing the $25,000 on the best trip I could possibly have, I would do the reasonable thing, and invest the money.
I bought the smallest, cheapest, worst shape apartment I could find on the market, in a pretty bad neighborhood, and went traveling with the rent money.
It was only $400 or so, so I was basically on a $10 a day budget.
How do you prioritize destinations, etc. when you are on such a tight budget? For example, you can travel around a huge country like India and take the bus for three days until you get to your next destination, or you can just use a budget airline like Indigo Airlines and get there in an hour for a few dozen dollars. Which happened to be my daily budget!
So I set clear expectations and priorities from the start. First, I didn’t mind where I was sleeping, or what kind of transportation I was going to use to get to my destination. It was back in 2003, so cheap flights booking was not really a thing where you would just go on the internet, especially in countries like Indonesia, I remember having to use a travel agent and receiving a paper ticket for my flight!
But also, it was a time where you didn’t have so many backpackers and people doing gap years, so I was having a pretty easy time getting a ride and sometimes even getting invited into people’s house for a meal or to spend the night. Of course, I did my best to contribute, one of my hits was cooking French crepes for my hosts. Cheap, easy and made everyone happy.
With that in mind, I was able to keep a pretty low budget, and use the majority of my money for what was really important to me: exploring the destination. I even managed to dive in the Caribbean, more exactly in Honduras, which is famous for being one of the cheapest places in the world to get your diving certification.
It wasn’t worth sacrificing the experiences to me. Like, you’re in that beautiful place and you can’t go to a museum? No thanks. I’d rather camp on the outskirts of town and have enough in my pocket to visit Macchu Picchu than have beers and party and miss out on the real stuff.
Adding up the small daily sacrifice of eating bread and avocado for breakfast (which ironically now is like a $12 avocado toast in hipster restaurants), hitch hiking and taking night buses to save on a hotel night, there was plenty of money to spend on the highlights of the trip.
As with anything money related, travel is a personal thing. So make sure you do whatever works for you!
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