I always had my budget in mind. I kept meticulous daily records so that I didn’t go over my spending limit, which was $30 per day on average. That meant that every bar of soap, visa fee, and pair of flip flops I bought went into the calculations.
If there was a way to share a taxi, I’d get social and ask around, or if I could possibly avoid the tourist mode of transport, I would find the local way, and was often the only foreign person taking that overnight ferry or 50-cent train ride. It resulted in some amazing stories, and some 36-hour journeys. I was rich in time but not in cash, so I took the longer, but often more interesting, road everywhere.
In my second year of traveling, I kept to my strict budget and stuck to Asia. I finished up my Southeast Asia travels in Vietnam and ventured into China, still opting for shared dorms and eating cheaply whenever possible.
Once I got to China, my money started dwindling so I started hitchhiking.
Sometimes it was dirty, it was almost always sweaty, and each and every time it was simply amazing. I loved it. I cherish those memories so much. I’m so glad that I had that experience, even if it did mean that for almost two years, I didn’t have a room to myself, almost never took the more expensive plane flight, and roughed it every time.
These days, with so many fancy resorts and apparent perfection all over Instagram, I think it often looks like travel is out of reach, but what I did in the early days was anything but glamorous, and in reach for those who are willing to save up and make it happen.