I’m not just a traveller at heart; I am a budget traveller at heart – i mean, if there is such a thing. I started travelling when I was twenty-one, with a backpack on my back and a thrifty budget. Money has always been a huge concern of mine. No money, no travel – it’s as simple as that. When I do have money, I think of ways to stretch my wallet further. The longer I can travel, the better. The further I can travel, the better.

Fjord lake sea ocean coast
Fjord, Norway
Photo Courtesy: http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/johnnyberg-50785

I see this as a rather healthy obsession with money.As time went by, I slowly began to move beyond seeing budget travel as a mere necessity. It is a way of travel, or even a way of life, that has made me who I am today. I believe that to experience the world more richly and more deeply, we have to constrain ourselves monetarily.

As cliché as it sounds, less is more and cheap is the way to go! So why travel on a budget? Here is my case:

Budget travel is the easiest way to meet people

No better circumstance puts you in a position to meet people than travelling on a budget. Budget travellers stay in hostels and campsites. They surf couches, they join free walking tours, they hitchhike and they find means to get free accommodation – from wwoofing and housesitting to volunteering. All these means to save money and cut costs will inadvertently lead to interactions with other travellers and locals, beyond those who work in the travel industry.

Budget travel lets you experience life as a local

There is no better way to bust your wallet while travelling than by sticking to the tourist trails. Every traveller that goes off and try their best to “live like a local” will find that hey, life as a local, most unsurprisingly, is pretty affordable. The basic rule of thumb is to eat at where the locals eat, go where the locals go and to use the public transportation whenever possible.

A very simple thing like taking the public bus instead of a cab from the airport to the city will allow travellers to immerse themselves in the daily lives of locals, instead of just being an observer who gazes out the window.

Budget travel builds resilience and adaptability

Everybody knows that travelling helps to build a person’s resilience and adaptability. Travelling on a budget does exactly that, but it is wholly more effective. Let’s face it – in many unfortunate situations, money is the one thing that can easily save our asses. Got lost in Venice? Just hail a gondola and let it take you back to your guesthouse. Stuck with a horrible accommodation? Just get online, make a booking and run off to another one nearby.

When every cent counts as it does to a budget traveller, they grit their teeth and deal with every mess that comes their way. They don’t just spend because they’re “on a vacation, anyway”. They get frustrated, they get scared, they dangle at their wits’ end but they pull through, and the experience shapes them to be a better, stronger person.

Budget travel kills materialism

Delineating between wants and needs may sound like a simple thing to do. When a budget traveller is on the road, they don’t just need to know it – they need to live it. There are only three major needs to be spent on while being on the road, that is accommodation, food and transport. Most of everything else is a want.

Life is stripped to its bare necessities, and you can’t pursue happiness by indulging in material possessions. Travel teaches people to be less materialistic, to contend on what little they have and to focus on the things that matter.

For many, budget travel is the only way to travel

The sad truth is that most travellers, well, they weren’t born into a rich family nor were they blessed with high-flying careers. They are students, they are workers, and they went through struggles to save enough to travel. To travel is a privilege, and ordinary people who are explorers at heart can only battle their wanderlust as they toil and grind to afford that plane ticket. For some, budget travel is the only way they cantravel. And if you ask me, if there is only one way to do something great, then by default that is the best way to do it, and that sure as hell beats not doing it at all.

By Dina. This piece was originally appeared on Hey Explorer.


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