Am I kidding myself? (costs)
Let me be clear, I am NOT a museum/attraction person. I am completely content just hanging around, exploring different parts of the city/hanging in nature. Going into shops, markets, etc. all day is exciting to me. Mingling with the people and such is something I can make a day out of...most days of the week. A museum/attraction once a week is almost too much for me. I don't know what it is, I just get bored. Obviously, there are certain things I'm dying to see..Ankor Wat, Great Wall, Pyramids, etc. But the day-to-day entrance fees don't seem like they will apply to me for the most.
I'm okay moving around slowly and taking the least expensive transportation option; time is not an enemy on this trip.
The one thing that I do love, and will not be able to cut back on though, is food. I love eating. I love eating good food. I don't need to eat in expensive places at all...just need good food, wherever I am.
So really, what I'm asking is this...am I kidding myself when I think my expenses outside of accomodation and food will be relatively limited? I understand transport costs..but I'm mainly talking about the times I'm in a new city with plans to stay there for a week or more...For instance...I've heard you can eat well for about $10 a day in Chiang Mai. For another $6 bucks I could find accomodation. Is it insane to think $20 a day will cover it? You get the idea...
1 - How much is it you're expecting to save over what most people consider a "standard" budget?
- I don't know what a "standard" backpacking budget for Chiang Mai might be, so I don't have an anchor to figure out whether $20 is reasonable. If you expect to cut back 15% by not doing much touristy stuff, that might be realistic. If you expect to cut back by 50%, you're probably kidding yourself. Much of the expense of traveling is the accomodation, transportation, and food costs.
2 - When you talk about museums/attractions, do you mean all touristy activities, or just specifically the "pay admission to see this" type of attraction?
In fact, most long term travelers cut back on paying admission to see stuff. After a while, it doesn't matter if it's Hindu, Shinto, Roman, Mayan or Egyptian...a temple's a temple. But that's not all the "touristy" spending that goes on. Personally, being a fan of active holidays, I'll pay for kayaking trips, bike trips, walking tours, whitewater rafting...that kind of thing. Sure it ups my budget, but it's what I enjoy. Your mileage may vary.
However, I noticed in your post that you've marked down a list of famous sites that you do want to see. I'll point out that, for the most part, famous = expensive. It can take a dozen "minor" site admissions to add up to a visit to Angkor Wat...it's those big ones that make a dent in the budget, not the $1-$5 here and there. It's also generally been my experience that I get as much or more out of the cheaper attractions that no one's heard of than the expensive attractions crammed with tourists and the associated commercialism.
3 - How realistic is it to go long term traveling and only pay for the basic necessities of life. Do you really just wander for days and months on end?
In my experience, I usually need some goal for the day. Otherwise, I just kick back and read. (Which often, actually, is the goal for the day, but wouldn't want it to be every day). Often that goal involves spending money, whether for shopping, for admissions, or for something else.
And finally: the backpacker budget is an average. $20/day might be all you spend for 6 days. But on day seven, your wallet gets stolen and you're out $100 cash. Happily your ATM card and passport wasn't in your wallet, but now your daily spend is $35. If cards or passport go missing, add at least a couple hundred more.
You're not going to get ripped off every week, but stuff comes up. You're worn out by your current locale, so you hop a long distance bus to get somewhere really different: $80. You see the most amazing chess set in a store, something that would easily go for $1000+ at home, so you buy it: $60 for the game set, $40 to ship it home. You wind up at Angkor Wat, which you really do want to see: $60. Your hat blows off and gets lost. $20.
It's always best to cushion your expected budget. I don't think I've ever regretted doing something and not enjoying it; that's quickly forgotten. I do regret not doing some things because they didn't fit into my budget. Now that I'm home again and working, saving $80 doesn't seem so important.
Mind that was solo with no paid admissions or extra travel, wouldn't make for a very exciting long term trip though.
In my mind right now, I could see myself being COMPLETELY content, renting a bike, cruising around town, eating great food, and just hanging out, most days of the week. I guess I should have been more clear about another point...doing active things, i.e. cage diving, deep sea fishing, trekking, bungee jumping, etc. has its own fund. I'm going to put together about 1-2k in a seperate fund for excursions such as the ones above. I'm mainly talking about the day-to-day living on the road..Thanks!
yanks26dmb wrote:So really, what I'm asking is this...am I kidding myself when I think my expenses outside of accomodation and food will be relatively limited?
Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and don't forget about transport costs.
You sound like you have a similar style to me and my partner. I should write up our trip finances from last year and send it to you, might be helpful. But I think your instincts are correct... I've heard stories of couples spending $20-30k EACH on a RTW trip and it sort of blows my mind. The sky's the limit, but it's not too hard to stay pretty far below that.
How exactly would you describe your style btw? What was a typical day for you guys?
yanks26dmb wrote:What was a typical day for you guys?
One of three, in general order of least expensive to most expensive:
1) The Being In One Place Day: Wake up. Talk to guesthouse manager or person making my breakfast. Go wander around the city/ village. Take photographs. Barter to purchase something small, then chat with person selling paper/ pen/ soap/ whatever. Walk walk walk. Look listen think. Stop to buy lunch, talk to person making my lunch. Find somewhere to sit and observe. Go visit a local attraction. Photos. Back to guest room to rest my feet for a while, check email. Wander out again, talk to person making my dinner. After dinner I'd usually go back to my room to journal and reflect on what I saw and experienced that day.
2) The Travel Day: Juice up iPod, pack dramamine, put personal belongings in their proper place, and sit around going from here to there. Also look, listen, think, and sometimes photograph.
3) The Experience Day: so we had some idea of what we wanted to do in each place. For example, a typical day in New Zealand might be waking up in a backcountry hut, hiking to the next hut, and spending the night there. Or in Cambodia, going to Angkor Wat and biking around. Thailand, meditation retreat (cheap) and scuba diving for a day (expensive). Nepal, trekking. Turkey, eating (and gaining back all the weight plus some that I'd lost trekking in Nepal). Etc.
No big safaris. Entire days dedicated to sitting on a bus, watching the world outside the window. Dorms and shared spaces. Sleeping on airport floors. Bought basically no souvenirs for myself, just small & symbolic gifts for others. Always carried our own packs while trekking/ tramping/ hiking. No fancy gadgets, didn't really buy anything in preparation for the trip (new hiking boots, I guess). Often washed my own clothes to keep myself honest (I will never be above scrubbing your own dirty socks). I'm more introverted than average, so I didn't go out of my way to drink with other travelers. I also know that I'm significantly more DIY and self-reliant than the average American. Neither way is better, I just know how I am so I travel like I live. I'd probably be Amish if I'd been born into it.
One final thought. I also require good food (real food, not food out of boxes or factories). This is surprisingly hard to come by on certain circuits. Villagers eat from their own fields, but restaurants catering to foreigners serve an entirely different type of food, a type of food that often didn't appeal to me. Good food can be found most places, but it WILL BE MORE EXPENSIVE. Often by 4, 5, 10 times as much as the cheap stuff. Plan for that.
When I get a chance I'll type up those numbers; I've been meaning to do it for a while. Best of luck with your planning.
EDIT: In retrospect, this sounds really cheap. I want to say that I tried not to pass up chances to be generous. Leaving little unexpected tips for folks who could use the pocket change, not requesting change from vendors, bargaining hard enough but not too hard, leaving small gifts (e.g. local fruit) for people we'd interact with on a regular basis, etc. I'm cheap as heck when it comes to buying crap I don't need, though, and I don't mind being patient with discomfort.
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