Maintaining long-term budget travel.
Long-term budget travelers are just not normal!
I’ve said it many times before and I’m sure it won’t be the last; shoestring budget travelers are a rare breed of people – We’re just not like any other.
What makes me say that? Well, look at us – we travel the world months and years on end with the minimum amount of funds, sometimes with just the clothes on our backs (or in our backpacks) and with no grand plan or set route; we just roam!
Some of you may be saying that Sounds amazing; how cool would it be to just roam the world with no baggage and no worries?
While, yes it’s true in a way otherwise we wouldn’t do it but…there’s always a but. Here’s the thing and there’s no point trying to kid anybody or over-glamorize it; budget traveling can be difficult and maintaining long-term budget travel can be grueling. You might not like hearing this but the harsh truth is not everybody can cope with it.
Now I’m sure you might be reading this and thinking ‘hold on, this is a travel blog shouldn’t you be promoting budget travel and not be trying to put me off?’ – Well I’m not doing either, I’m merely conveying the truth (something that seems to be missing a lot nowadays. Long-term budget travel realism’s is the other side of the traveling coin; the things that don’t get talked about.)
Just telling the truth.
So what is the truth about long-term budget traveling? …Well, it can be difficult, a grind, it can wear you down, be a strain on you mentally, there will be bumps in the road and there can be some very dark days. Without a shadow of doubt, it will yank you out of your comfort zone! However, if you can battle through this then it can be so rewarding, fulfilling, enriching and even life-changing. (Sorry for the cliché’s but it’s true.)
If you truly want to know what you are capable of, then long-term budget traveling will show you in no uncertain terms. Personally, over the years I have learned more about myself and my character than I ever thought possible. Long-term budget traveling has the power to change you and your outlook on life, it can help you appreciate the little things, build your character and strengthen you. It will put you through the ringer but you’ll be better off for it – Or you won’t. Long-term budget traveling is like being thrown in the deep and you either learn to swim or you sink.
Now you’ve heard that; the question is, at this point are you scared or excited by the prospect of long-term budget travel?
Before you make a decision, why don’t you read on and make your mind up at the end of this post after I show you how you can not only do it but maintain it for years…
How can it be done and kept going?
A question I get asked by friends, family and even other travelers is, just how do you keep it going? How can somebody like me, who doesn’t have a lot of money, to begin with, doesn’t have a trust fund or any savings and doesn’t always have a job to go back to sustain a constant life of traveling and drifting one country to the next?
Well, there are a number of factors that come into play to maintaining long-term budget travel, some are basic, some are on your mentality and others depend on your willingness to adapt and learn.
(NB: I managed to maintain a life of budget traveling continuously from 2010-2016 before finally taking an extended break. When I returned home in 2016 I tried to live a normal life but it didn’t work out so I started traveling again.)
So let’s start from with the basics…
First of all, how long you can stay in one country or region for depends on where you are from. The strength of your passport will determine what countries you can travel to, how long you can stay for, and whether you need a visa or not.
For example, I’m British so I’m very lucky as my passport allows me to travel to most countries in the world with no problem. In certain countries I can stay longer than others, in certain countries there is no need for a visa, I can work in certain countries and I can travel freely through Europe (Note this is Pre-brexit.)
Check if you need a visa with Visa-Central
The second basic factor in maintaining long-term budget travel is having to work while you travel. It’s unfortunate (especially for those of us who hate it) but there’s no other way around it; traveling requires money. Sure you can save and start with a base and try to do things as cheap as possible but if you’re planning on traveling long-term then eventually your money is going to dry up.
Now, this isn’t the part of the post where I tell you all you need is your laptop and you can start earning straight away. Sure, if you have a particular skill set, technically sound or have experience then yes, you can be a digital nomad. For those of you that aren’t don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to earn and work while traveling. Again, depending on your visa and where you are from will determine the level of work you can do (If you’re on a working holiday visa, you can apply for any type of job you’re skilled in and the same if you’re an EU national traveling around Europe.)
There are plenty of other options too, work on farms, manual labor, restaurant, and bar work, promo work, pick up odd jobs here and there, work in your hostel…Remember you’re just looking for work to keep your travels going. This post gives you an idea of different types of jobs you can do traveling.)
Maintaining long-term budget travel.
Your passport strength, visa options and willingness to work will be your foundations but the other factors in maintaining long-term budget travel depend on you, your adaptability and willingness to learn.
Traveling is A learning curve.
Traveling – any form of it is a learning curve and it’s the same for your mindset too. As a long term-budget traveler every day is an education. Sure, there will be things you already know but It’s perfectly normal to be naive to certain situations too. Just remember you’ll pick up things/life-skills along the way, so allow yourself to constantly evolve and adapt. Even somebody like me who is regarded as a seasoned long-term budget traveler still learns.
That’s the beauty of traveling; the way we travel, the way we think, the way our minds expand is ever-changing.
Keep your planning loose.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before and for good reason. For us long-term budget travelers It’s so important to keep our plans loose. Remember, Long-term traveling is a marathon and inevitably at some point during your trip plans will change.
Planning loosely has a number of benefits to you; it keeps you flexible for when things change or situations occur. There will be times you change your mind (you are allowed to change your mind.) You might not like a place or on the other hand fall in love with it and want to stay longer; these things can happen.
Planning loosely also saves you from burn out too quickly, a big reason why some travelers can’t cope with long-term budget traveling is that they try to do too much too quickly. Trying to be on the go all the time stresses people out, and in most cases, people don’t get to appreciate what they’re doing or seeing at that moment in time.
Plan loose, research well!
However In saying that, you shouldn’t get planning and having a heavy itinerary confused for research. Doing good research can really make a difference to a long-term travelers journey and saves on needless spending. There’s a difference in having the knowledge of a country to trying to cram everything it has to offer in too quickly.
This should probably have been at the top of the pile. It shocks me on the number of people I meet traveling that have ZERO common sense. And, it’s those who have no common sense that end up getting into difficulties and trouble.
As a budget traveler, more often than not you’re going to in and around locals, sometimes you’ll be in less advanced or poor countries so don’t be a tourist, don’t flash your money or belongings around. Don’t make it obvious that you’re a tourist, don’t think you’re better than them, don’t act like you own their country and be respectful of certain countries, beliefs and values – You are in their country!
Quite simply, don’t be an idiot when traveling, use your common sense!
The majority of people who start traveling either already have or want to open their minds. People want to learn new cultures, experience new sights, sounds, and tastes. At the end of the day we all want to experience something new otherwise why would we travel?
However in saying that there will times and situations when you come across or experience a culture shock. It could be something you’ve grown up believing is wrong but to natives it’s normal; this will happen at times and even though it’s hard, these are the times you need to try to keep an open mind.
If you’ve never stayed in backpacker hostels, especially party hostels, this may be your biggest culture shock. Anything and everything can happen in them. What you need to remember is, the other travelers are just being free, letting go, so it’s not your place to judge. I’m not saying you have to do the same as them, just keep an open mind.
Open your mind, go with the flow and don’t judge others – but as mentioned above use your common sense.
Don’t be fussy.
This was a big one for me before I traveled I was a very fussy eater and it was one of my main concerns; how would I cope.
Just like other things I learned to let go of the fussiness, I learned to just go with it, I adapted.
So, if you’re somebody who’s quite fussy, you should learn to do the same. Now I’m not saying it will happen overnight, it does take time and sometimes it can be a struggle but as long as your willing to try and let go you’ll be fine.
And it’s not just with food, remember you’re a budget traveler, quality all around is going to be lower, hostels are not hotels, cleanliness will be lower in places, hygiene is none existent in some places – All these things tie in with keeping an open mind.
As budget travelers sometimes you just have to suck it up, you don’t have a choice, and I don’t mean to sound nasty but expectations may need to be lowered and be less fussy or you won’t last very long.
Learn to lose your inhibitions.
This is one of those that definitely comes with time and the more you travel and will help in maintaining long-term budget travel. The more you do the more relaxed you are and the more you know how certain dynamics work. Over time you get used to not caring about certain things, as you become more open-minded, lose your fussiness, your inhibitions will start to fall away to.
I’ve met so many people over the years who have started off with being self-conscious, cagey, fussy, riddled with anxiety but slowly over time they learned to let go. Again, it happens with time, not everybody can strip away all their inhibitions straight away, some people force themselves to do it, while to others it happens naturally. From experience though let me tell you when it does happen – it feels like the shackles are off and you’ve been set free.
Become flexible, adaptable, resourceful and creative is key to maintaining long-term budget travel.
A key to maintaining long-term budget travel is to become flexible, adaptable to situations and circumstances and resourceful.
The flexibility comes in handy when things don’t go to plan, and there are times when plans just go out the window. If you’re flexible then it won’t matter too much, you can just change the course of direction.
There will be times when you have to adapt to certain situations if something unexpected pops up, be ready and adapt to it.
One of the biggest keys to maintaining Long-term budget travel is learning to become resourceful, use what’s around you, seek out bargains, get creative in your thinking. For example, it there if a tour you want to do but can’t afford it, look at other ways of doing it, trust me where there’s a will there’s a way.
The word ‘FREE‘ will become the best thing you can come across and like a dog sniffing out a bone you will be able to sniff out anything that is free.
Keep your eyes open and learn from other budget travelers.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or if you’re a seasoned budget traveler, you never stop learning, and there’s no better way of learning than to keep your eyes open and to learn from other budget travelers. You should never think that you know it all, there will always be methods, ways to adapt and evolve to make your traveling life easier.
You should bear in mind when you start off budget traveling, you will be a novice. You’re not going to know much of how budget traveling works but over time these things will come to you, you’ll gain the experience, you’ll become savvy and all around you will be a better budget traveler. See how Forever Roaming The World went from being a novice backpacker to a seasoned traveler.
Did you find this maintaining long-term budget travel post helpful for your impending trip? Let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like to know about?
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