Let’s face it- there’s something romantic and almost nostalgic about being poor. Think about all of the crazy adventures that begin by trying to save a little cash. Penny pinching may not sound glamorous, but the memories made while travelling on a shoestring budget will definitely be worth retelling. If you’re not convinced, here are 8 reasons why travelling on a budget can improve your trip and definitely earn you some backpacker badges of honour:
1. You’re forced to think out of the box
Have you ever noticed travelling on a budget usually means going off into the bushes where no one else has been before? (And we’re not just talking about doing your business…ahem). Having fewer financial resources can force you to rely on your creativity, invention, and imagination which are limitless (unlike your pocketbook). The DIY way is here to stay and travelling is the perfect chance to experiment and flex your uniqueness.
2. You’ll make a lot more new friends
Not only is it cheaper, staying at a hostel or receiving free accommodation through Workaway also puts you in touch with other people like you who are travelling with the same focus on cultural exchange. Many of the folks I’ve met this way have become instant travelling companions and lifelong friends. If you’re travelling solo, finding a host family or making a buddy at a backpacker’s is worth far more than splurging on a fancy hotel room by yourself.
3. You’ll master the art of slow travel
One of my favorite quotes from Walden goes like this, “I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days and spent them lavishly.” When you have a lot of money, you tend to forget about a currency that’s even more valuable- time. Travelling on a budget helps you to slow down, sit, watch, and observe. It allows you to enter the scenery instead of consuming it.
4. You’ll realise language barrier is pretty overrated
No matter what’s the conversion rate, I can guarantee you the locals know how to make it stretch. They’ll know where the best free swimming holes are, how to make a meal from a few local ingredients, where to buy artisan goods at a fair price, and which taxis charge the “gringo” fare. The only way to learn their tricks of the trade is to ask. Strike up a conversation, ask for advice (or if you don’t speak the language, use a lot of awkward body language) and you might just get invited for a home cooked meal or shown a secret view of the city that takes your breath away.
5. Because you can eat all the quiche
To save money on food in Paris, I ate almost exclusively at the bakeries. Supplementing here and there with some wine or fruit from the marché, I heartily consumed freshly baked baguettes, quiche lorraine, and so much pain au chocolat it’s not even funny. By avoiding high cost restaurants, I got a taste of the daily bread and butter of French culture and cuisine, an experience that was truly priceless. Every country has their own version of the French boulangerie, and I promise you, there’s nothing quite like it.
6. You’ll become a part of the local communities
There are so many cultural festivals, rituals, and ceremonies you can attend that are rich in heritage and cost little to nothing. While travelling with Workaway I’ve had the privilege to witness funerals, weddings, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, and more. Participating in these intimate experiences can shape your sensations of a place and people for years to come.
7. You’ll be learning and growing so much
Volunteering with Workaway gave me the knowledge and courage to completely change my career path. Whether you’re teaching English in a village in Ghana, practicing your renovation know-how in France, learning how to grow food in China, or tending to animals in Costa Rica, there are countless ways you can add to your resume and widen your expertise (not to mention increase your adaptability). Don’t underestimate the long-term impact this will have on your life!
8. Forget about airline miles- you’d rather be earning street cred instead!
Taking a vacation is wonderful. It has it’s own purpose and place. However…travelling, really travelling is so much more. Travelling on a budget in a way makes you more vulnerable and open to the world. It asks you to rely on the exchange of human kindness, on your intuition, and the ability to think on your feet. ❤️
Instead of using money as a solution to every problem, you begin to engage with your surroundings in a way that demands bravery and softness. No matter what kind of adventure you find yourself in, you’ll be able navigate it with confidence and cleverness. And that, my friends, worth all of the wealth in the world.