I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently around what my particular travel style is. It’s easy the more travel blogs you read to feel less than for not wanting to do x, y and z or for not wanting to travel on a dime. It’s almost as though you can feel guilty for either not adhering to a strict budget or for going on an all-out extravaganza.
Seeing as I will shortly begin posting our budget breakdowns for Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, I thought it would behoove me to share with you my travel style. That way the numbers shouldn’t be too surprising.
1. En-Suite Diva
Look, way back when I did my hostel time. I even still occasionally stay in hostels, but I’ve become a snob about requiring an en-suite. One too many cases of food poisoning or just general illness will do that to you. Trust me, running down the hallway is not a preferred option in moments of crisis. It’s funny, I can deal easily with fan-cooled rooms, forgoing air conditioning, but an en-suite is something I’d like to keep sacred. This often means the room is a little pricier, but such is life.
2. Booze Rarely Agrees With Me
I honestly believe that I am allergic to booze. Almost every time I drink it, my belly gets slightly upset. The solution, clearly, is to drink more, but I don’t. Hence why when I have a night out I have a night out but I’m not your everyday drinker, preferring the joys of a banana smoothie in Southeast Asia any day. This saves me some dollars, but considering I do cocktails and not beer, I’m sure the budget eventually evens out. What it does save me money is in the party lifestyle compared to other travelers and travel bloggers.
3. Adventure, Adventure, Adventure
I’m not a beach bum. In fact, I burn quite easily, so an hour of tanning will do me quite nicely then I’d rather be on a zip line or in a treetop adventure park. Trekking Sapa? Hell yes. While tanning on the beach is free, many adventure activities are not. They definitely ratchet up my budget a considerable amount.
4. I’m Only Here Once
These are the words that get many travelers into sincere budget troubles, so let me clarify. Typically, when I travel, I know that I’m only going to visit the current country the one time, per the statement. Too many other countries to visit! As such, there are certain things I will NOT budge on, regardless of the cost. Foodie tour in Saigon? Check. Cruising Halong Bay without the mass crowds? Check.
How do I try to stay on budget? Well, recently in Bangkok we cut our budget in two ways. One, we’d planned to participate in a night bike tour. Knowing that our budget was tight, we decided instead to follow the same route on foot. And you know what? I think we had more fun being able to go at our own pace. Two, we continue to hear how the Grand Palace is a “must see” in Bangkok and the whopping cost of $15 USD per person. Well, we got there and it was tourism-insanity. Too many people. Too little room to move. Too much stress. Sure, it might be top of the list, but it was certainly not in our travel style. Which leads nicely into…
5. I Don’t Believe You Must See The “Must See’s”
Being top of a TripAdvisor list brings the crowds and if you’re in a major tourism centre like London, Paris, Bangkok or New York, that means crowds, tour groups and long lines. Huge crowds also mean that as you’re going through a site, you’re more likely to be shuffling and standing on your tiptoes for a view than you are to be appreciating a site in all its glory.
In some cases I’ve tried to deal with the major stress that mass amounts of tourists can cause, but most of the time I prefer to instead wander and explore. It’s thanks to these aimless days that I’ve had some of the best memories on my trips.
6. I Fear the Food
This is a point I am NOT proud of, but as I mentioned previously, I’ve had some bad luck with food poisoning. As a result, it’s led to David and I being much more cautious, not particularly about street food, but about meat in general. Some of the meals we’ve eaten in Asia have been pretty boring (mixed veg in oyster sauce anyone?) but they’ve been filling, nutritious and hopefully safe. We’ve splurged on food tours and cooking classes in most places we’ve visited which has helped us get the local experience, but beyond that we do splurge more for the Western food in Asia. Hangs head in shame.
That’s my travel style. It’s not budget 101, but it’s not hey-big-spender either. What I think my budget breakdowns will reflect is how the average tourist will spend their money in Southeast Asia. I’m not writing from the viewpoint of many bloggers who live on the road therefore need to stay on a budget. I had the luxury of knowing there was a definite three month time limit, so I saved and budgeted accordingly. We almost stuck to our budget, and I’ll explain in each of the breakdowns why we did or didn’t exceed them. There were some pretty valid reasons.
What about you? What’s your travel style? Do you consider yourself a thrifty traveler or a splurge-aholic? Somewhere in between?