So it’s unfortunate that the fuel for this post comes from what I guess could be considered “hate mail”. Since heading out on my expedition to travel the world on a dollar, I’ve received a few private messages about the envy that is being felt from watching me “swan” around the world. I’d like to disclose some of the behind the scenes to show that frugal travel isn’t so much the “swan” of travel, but the ugly duckling.. Either way, both can swim to their destination.. Its a matter of how?
In order to travel on a frugal budget, you have to be prepared to do things that are quite uncomfortable. For example.. I am currently on a train heading to the city center of Rome.. So far I have walked a half mile to a bus stop in below freezing weather .. Waited for 25 minutes, in said weather, to board a bus that I’m the last one to fit.. With my backpack loaded down. Packed like sardines and in a position that my arm fell asleep, I stood in a slight knee bent position so that I could “surf” my unbalanced self the hour bus ride to the train station. I’ve been awake since 5am to take this commute to the airport, and I still have a bus ride from the city centre to the airport so that I can hopefully make it on time for my flight to Barcelona before the gate closes. Now the airport is actually only a 45 minute drive away from where I am staying.. If that.. But working with public transport, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. My weeks transit pass makes the buses and trains free.. And the airport transfer bus from the city is only 4€.. And already paid for. This ugly swan will make it there to board my 20€ flight to Barcelona having spent only 4€ whereas a swan would probably call a taxi and pay the 50-70€ and ride in comfort with plenty of time to sit in the airport lounge and enjoy a 15€ breakfast. This ugly duckling has packed an orange, given to me by my host.. A bottle of water, and a 50c pain Au chocolat.
This is actually a fortunate flight. The cheapest flights are the 6am flights.. But in order to get to the airport at that time you have to travel the night before.. Arrive around midnight and sleep in the terminal .. Which many people do. I’ve spent up to 20 hours in an airport in order to save money traveling. Without these practices I couldn’t afford to travel. Simple as that.
If you’re wanting to travel, but don’t think you can afford it.. You can.. As long as you are prepared to do the following:
✔️ walk a few miles, sometimes carrying your luggage in a backpack (trust me, with all the broken escalators in and out of subways, and cobblestone streets.. You don’t want that fancy rolling suitcase)
✔️ spend ample time researching public transportation timetables using a translator app
✔️ get lost in a foreign country.. It happens, but you’ll always survive
✔️ meet complete strangers and allow them to welcome you into their homes
✔️ TRUST YOUR INTUITION EVERY TIME (I could write an entire blog about how much I have learned to trust myself and my higher power while traveling)
✔️ minimize all of your materialistic possessions in exchange for life experiences … Of course you’re more than welcome to continue to come home, sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix on that 42″ flatscreen
✔️ study .. Study study study.. Read as many travel blogs as you can.. Join nomad FB groups.. Girls Love Travel.. Nomads.. Frugal travel .. This is where I started.. Reading others experiences and figuring out how I could do it too.
✔️ allow strangers to come to your home.. If you’re going to keep a house somewhere, it needs to pay for itself, and maybe even create some profit to pay your way around the world
✔️ have sleepless nights.. Spend 20+ hours on $5 buses researched and booked two months in advance
✔️ be prepared to have a couchsurfing or Airbnb reservation cancelled the night before, and face landing in a country with no clue where you are going to sleep!! (I usually research several places just in case)
✔️ stay sober, drink water, eat bread.. And refrain from shopping .. Yes, even those fine Italian leather shoes for $20 or stylish sweaters for $15. I mail postcards, but that isn’t a necessity.. The $1 knick knack souvenirs may be cheap, and “from Malta” .. You may never get the chance again .. But they add up and they take space in your pack.. And end up costing $50 to mail back home.
✔️ walk.. Don’t take public transport unless you have a specific destination for a specific event. Walking helps you find things you didn’t know were there..
✔️ hold your bladder.. Trust me.. Finding a bathroom seems to be quite the challenge!
✔️ forgo the typical tourist sales, attractions, restaurants.. See what the locals are dong .. Where are they eating?
✔️ post in groups where you’re going.. Maybe other travelers are there and can meet up.. Or share expenses ..
✔️ hitchhiking – scary stuff right? Not so much.. Turn the tv off! It’s full of lies lol
✔️ sleep in hostels!! Another scary one .. Again .. It’s just a movie..
✔️ lose things.. Donate things .. Weather climates change in different countries and over time, depending how long you’re traveling.. Be prepared to hand over that second and third sweater if you’re heading south.. And buy a new one when you head back north. (Now we are wasting money!? Lol)
✔️ Pack light .. You really only want to bring 2-3 changes of clothes.. You may have to wear them more than once.. Most countries hang their laundry to dry and in the cold winter months, this could take a while. You want to meet carry on luggage requirements on the planes to avoid the checked baggage fees. I have less stuff now than when I left… All I really need is toiletries, (which you can actually buy country to country relatively cheap rather than go thru the hassle of meeting the security requirements in the airports, and leave it at your hosts house for the next couchsurfer) a couple of changes of clothes, my laptop, compact camera, and charger wires and adapters.. And I have my compact art supplies.. For me that is a necessity 😉
So far I have been traveling since November 11th 2015 (today is January 22nd 2016) on this euro tour, and I have spent $1370. That is everything from flying from New York, visiting several cities in England, half of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Malta, Gozo, southern Italy, Rome, and landing in and sleeping on a sailboat tonight in Barcelona, Spain.