We’ve recently crossed the 6 month mark on the trip and needless to say the time’s gone by in a flash!
The countries visited so far, though hardly high in number, have each influenced and impacted us and our journey in ways hard to verbalize in a single blog post.
But this post isn’t about lessons learned or looking back at the past few months. This one is a chance for you to get an answer to the question/questions that might have crossed your mind. Questions, that we are still after all this time, constantly being asked by our friends and readers of the blog. I don’t really tire of these questions or answering them but I have realized that there seems to be a lot of curiosity about the idea of long term travel . So this is my attempt in answering all of those questions and helping you get just a little better acquainted with IcedChai :)
A: I still get asked this even today – “How do you afford such a trip?? I mean you must’ve made a lot of money while working!”. That is as far from the truth as it could be. Thing is, we didn’t just pack our bags one day and decide this is it, we’ve had enough of working and would now like to quit our jobs and travel indefinitely. That would’ve hardly allowed us more than just a couple of weeks of travel before we ended up broke, on the road and with no money to buy a ticket back home.
The idea of this trip came to us about 2 years or more before we left and around the end of 2009 it started to take more shape and form in terms how much we would need to save and when we would be able to leave. From then it was a slow move towards budgeting, planning and saving up! It was tough at times sure, but easy enough when you like travel as much! And that’s the key.
A: Among all the questions we get asked, this one has the highest frequency. I think most people have at some time or the other considered or dreamed of doing something like this and understandably want to have some practical, concrete idea of what is financially required to achieve it.
This is also a question I’m most uncertain while answering and no one likes a vague answer to their question, but there really is no answer to this! And if there is one then its that – it solely depends on you. What kind of traveler are you? Do you prefer to rough it out or would you like the luxury of a comfortable plush hotel to retreat to every night? Would you take local transport, change 3 buses to get to a place if it meant you could save money or would you prefer the comfort of a hired car?
Of course you don’t need to have specific answers to all of these questions or you’d never leave! But the amount of money you need for such a trip would depend on all of these factors, which only you could best answer for yourself.
Not everyone likes budget travel. I know a few friends of mine who cringe at the idea of staying in a dorm and have probably never even seen the inside of a hostel. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you just have to know what your boundaries are and what takes priority for you – travelling longer so stretching your buck where you can or the comfort of a holiday where the intention is to relax and not to have to bother with details like where the nearest bus stop is.
Having said that, if you are in fact looking for a rough estimate to get you started and you do fall under the budget traveler category, but don’t want to be scraping for every meal, I think a rough estimate of 1000$ per month (per person) should give you a ballpark. Of course the places you plan to visit (Europe will be more expensive, SE Asia cheaper) and whether you’re travelling solo or with a partner etc. will influence this budget. And if you’re willing you could bring this estimate even lower with sticking solely to dorms, using websites like CouchSurfing for free accommodation and sticking to small eateries or even hitchhiking.
A: Believe it or not I was actually asked by a very dear friend of mine in India, whether he could actually loan me some money for the trip so I wouldn’t have to sleep on railway platforms. Cos to him that’s how the idea of ‘budget travel’ sounded! Hilarious as it is, let me clarify – we do no such thing. Ok so we might have once slept on the floor of the train itself while travelling in Egypt, but it was a 1st class compartment and not to mention quite a bit of fun!
Coming back to the question, and to put it simply, it only means we try to get more value out of the money spent, which in turn would allow us to travel for a longer period. For example meals at a smaller local eatery than a posh restaurant, sharing a motor-cycle taxi with 5 other people than hiring a cab for ourselves, sleeping in a basic budget hotel or hostel with no frills than a fancy one – it’s just about choices. It’s definitely not about scrimping for money in everything you do as that wouldn’t be much fun for too long. But choosing a hostel over the 50$ a night hotel, so we can spend the money on a diving trip in Indonesia instead, or choosing to ride the MRT over a cab from the airport to the city in Singapore so we could spend the money on all the delicious food Singapore has to offer. That’s what budget travel is for us.
A: A lot of our friends did confess to us that while the idea seemed fantastic, they wouldn’t honestly be able to travel for more than few weeks at a time as they’d simply get bored and/or tired of it after a point.
While I do agree that this may not be for everyone, travelling for a longer period is quite different from a holiday of a few weeks. With the former you don’t have to pack it all in in a matter of few days before leaving to the next destination and the pace is much slower. You stay longer in the same place, get used to it and on some days do perfectly normal non-travel related activities to pace yourself and not tire out. This is especially true for times when you’re sick or just physically tired; we just take a few days from active travelling and stay in one place longer.
Also for us the blog provides an additional motivation to see our places differently, record it and actively think about what we’d like to cover about this place; and the act of writing and sharing itself provides a lot of food for thought.
A: Well that is something we’ll surely have to worry about very soon when the trip is done and we get back to ‘normal’ lives. And what we did was a risky decision but one with no regrets so far. As for financial security well there is none! And some say that the world’s ending this year, so I guess we shouldn’t be too worried then :)
Did we answer any or some of the questions you had in mind? Got a question for us? Let us know in the comments below!