Why travel with a small budget?
This is the text of an email we sent back in April 2009 to our English-language travel mailing list. It deals, among other things, with the question why we actually prefer travelling on what some people would consider to be a pretty tight budget.
Dear all, we have now put all the English and French emails from the 2008/09 Nepal/India trip on Thomas' website: http://thomaslauer.com/travel/NINDIA_2008_Mails_English and http://thomaslauer.com/travel/NINDIA_2008_Mails_French There is also (rather belatedly...) a page with the (few) emails we sent re our stay in Berlin in early 2008: http://thomaslauer.com/travel/Berlin_2008 And now for something completely different. Some of our readers have been wondering why we would search for hours on end for a cheap budget hotel (that was back in Vadodara, in Gujarat) if we could have secured a room at a more expensive hotel within minutes. All the more so as the price differential between budget (200-300 rupees, about £3 to £4) and expensive (1500 rupees, roughly £20) is relatively small, at least in British Pounds. So what exactly is budget travelling? What does it mean to us and why are we doing it that way? Well, budget travelling has many facets, of which saving money is only one. But let's start with that: if we go away for 160 days and we spend 700 rupees per day, we look at a cost of 112,000 rupees. That's about £1600 (excluding visas and flights) -- relatively easy to finance even if we are only home half of the year. However, if we spent 3500 rupees a day (that's about £50, not really a lot by British standards) we will have to find £8000... quite a bit more! But there's more to it than just the money. Budget travelling also means you go on to travel, eat, sleep etc. as much as possible like the locals do. At times this can be a bit rough and it sometimes takes a certain willingness to accept (or overlook) some not overly salubrious surroundings and circumstances. (Then again, the fact that so many adults and kids in Western societies are plagued by allergies of one kind or another may well be connected to the observation that many people are becoming obsessed with cleanliness and aseptic environments. Thomas' grandma used to say that a bit of dirt has never hurt anyone and so far, she was right;-).) But back to living like the locals do. The fact is that travelling for a few months very much like an Indian (or a Nepalese) would travel is a real eye-opener. In fact, we would say that many of the encounters we enjoyed over the years with locals (not just in India or Nepal but also in Egypt or Iran or Vietnam) had never been possible if we had travelled "in style". For instance, in markets or bazaars we often have discussions with local shoppers (or even sellers) about quality or price of local produce and it's always funny to see how it amazes them that we actually have an inkling about what we should pay for a kilo of bananas, some bread or a bag of sweets. They know (and expect) that many tourists tend to compare whatever they are charged for goods or a service to what they would reasonably pay at home and consequently have not the slightest idea about local price levels. Tourists staying in a 200US$ hotel room (and ordering bland Western food for hundreds of rupees) will have many Indians shake their heads in disbelief, although this is still a relatively cheap rate: some suites in Rajasthan's top notch hotels are a real bargain at 3,500US$ per night -- no kidding. We've talked to Indians who simply refused to believe that anyone could have the sheer audacity to charge such a crazy price -- and even more that anyone would actually pay it! One of the most amazing aspects of all this is how quickly we get into budget travelling mode. Once we hit the road, it takes us less than a day to switch from sedentary sloth to roaming rover: just leaving home and travelling to Heathrow airport normally does the trick -- everything falls away and we are on the road again (even if it's a British road). And depending on how good we know the country we're visiting, we'll need at most a few days to fully get the "budget bug" into the system. In the end, budget travelling is more a mindset for us than a sustained attempt to save money. One of the things that make travelling such a great experience is that the human body tends to get over crappy experiences (and crappy bathrooms) quite quickly whereas all the memories, good and bad, stay in one's mind forever. Perhaps paradoxically, icky experiences often turn into dear memories. (All travellers know that the actual act of travelling is just a minor inconvenience sandwiched between weeks or months filled with the joys of preparation (what the Germans call 'Vorfreude') and years of basking in all the memories afterwards.) So, in a sense, we do court all sorts of travelling experiences, difficult and exhilarating alike. Sure, we're sometimes worse for wear and occasionally it even hurts. But when all is said and done, it's worth it. We all only live once, so we should go for it! Well, that's it for the time being... whenever something interesting happens, we'll post another message! All the best and have a nice winter if you're in the southern hemisphere and a nice summer everywhere else. Thomas + Vero
$updated from: Welcome.htxt Mon 20 Nov 2017 18:02:40 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$