When I was just starting to travel, my mom had trouble tolerating my imminent lifestyle. She would argue, like most parents with their vagabond daughters, that my activity is “carelessly spending money and having a good time.” It occurred to me that she, and perhaps many others, associate travel with holiday, hotels, and lying on the sand with a glass of punch. Hence, the teasing, ‘wow yaman,’ by friends.
While these things are part of my travels, they don’t define my itineraries that include much more, or less, or something else entirely. My travel goals vary, but one thing is consistent – traveling on a budget. In other words, having the preference for fan dorms, carinderia, and local transport most of the time – definitely undeserving of the wow, yaman comment.
So what’s with budget travel? Some people have wild ideas of getting incredibly cheap 3D2N, all-in tour at a destination. Unless they achieve value for money, it’s not cheap. To me, traveling on a budget isn’t setting a fixed amount of money for a destination, but the other way around: setting goals for a destination and a reasonable budget for the trip.
I determine my travel goals by researching – the first lesson I learned from my seasoned traveler friends on my newbie days. I set priorities based on what the destination has to offer. If the place is known for its pristine islands, I try to find out if a DIY tour is possible or I get the cheapest tour available. If the place offers authentic local delicacy or cuisines I don’t experience in the Metro, I allot budget for such meals.
I also consider my interests: nature, culture, food, and spontaneity. Though I choose cheap alternatives most of the time, I also spend to satisfy my interests. For example, I’d prefer a Filipino-themed hut surrounded by trees where I’d be most happy waking up to the sound of birds over an inn, cheaper by only a little. Also, I like being spontaneous so I allot a little time and money for unplanned activities and meandering.
Knowing my travel goals and doing research help me determine when I could be frugal and which part of the trip I’d likely wear out my feet to deserve a little splurging on a nice room or a hearty dinner.
My kind of budget travel may not work for everyone, but it alters the idea of “carelessly spending money and having a good time” attached to traveling because when one travels on a budget, one seeks many things but comfort.