Mantras for Travel on the Cheap

While travel tends to be a costly venture, it doesn’t always have to be. While the two heftiest components of travel are travel itself and lodging, food costs also add up quickly. By engaging in work-trade opportunities while traveling (and there are so many out there!), traveling with camping gear, and allowing for a flexible schedule, travelers can greatly cut down on their costs. From my travel experiences traveling in Oceania, South America, Nepal, and even road-tripping across the US, I have adopted a few mindsets and mantras along the way. Here are some to start!

If you don’t A-S-K, you don’t G-E-T!

My beautiful and talented friend, Lauren Thomas, taught me this catchy phrase when I met her staying at the Pucon Kayak Hostel in Pucon, Chile. Being outgoing and eager to engage in conversation, ask questions, and attempt communicating in a foreign language, this concept was something that I had been practicing for some time. For some of us, the largest obstacle in doing this is overcoming our sense of pride, and putting ourselves in the position of asking for something that may be out of the ordinary. In multiple instances, this idea and mantra has served me well.

While hitchhiking in northern Patagonia, my boyfriend Clay and I found ourselves stranded about 200kms from our destination. We found ourselves in a small village with one restaurant and one hostal, while we ourselves were equipped with avocado and bread and camping gear. With a budget configured to last us two more months, I kindly asked the senora who owned the hostal if we could camp in her yard – sans charge. She happily and eagerly said yes – offering us water and access to restrooms – which we politely declined.

At the Pucon Kayak Hostal, I found myself residing there for a few weeks as it is the perfect home-base for kayaking, hiking, and exploring the Lakes District. I asked if there was any work that could be done to put towards my accommodation. Here and there I was able to assist with the cooking and clean-up, laundry, and change-over of the hostal rooms. (Thanks, Dave and LT!)

Just recently I have continued to put this concept to use, as Clay and I are simultaneously getting settled and exploring Hawaii. This is the only time you may hear me mention my vice, so here it is. The infamously entertaining series of Monday night Bachelor/Bachelorette. Since living in a tent in Husum, Washington and residing in a house in Underwood along the Columbia River, Clay and I have done without cable television, and Kailua is no different. Without cable or wifi in our studio apartment, I happened to notice the nice flat screen television at McDonald’s – conveniently across the street. Feeling desperate as the season premiere was to air within the hour, I made a phone call to Mac’s where I inquired to the manager. He happily agreed to play it for me, and I was happy to find that McDonald’s goers of all ages enjoyed this thought-provoking program on Monday nights!

PB&J’s around the world

Everybody loves a good PB&J, right?! With food costs quickly adding up (should I mention beverages?), it is important to get into the habit of cooking frequently and cheaply while traveling on a budget. This requires more discipline, as we all become weakened by sights of steamy, fresh hamburgers, pizza, empanadas, or what may be it. Stick to your guns, friends! I promise that you won’t remember those mediocre meals after a couple of months, and your bank account will thank you.

Do your research!

There are so many logistics coming into plan while traveling – it is important to know your options! For example, you want to know if hitch hiking is a common and safe practice in the country you are traveling in. Compare prices of transportation and evaluate the amount of time you can afford to get there. If any portions of your trip include guided expeditions – compare companies’ prices and offerings. Be sure to research visa requirements and fees for entering countries – you don’t want any surprises!

Hitchhiking on New Years Eve to Cerro Castillo
Hitchhiking on New Years Eve to Cerro Castillo
PB&Js on the Way Up Volcan Villarica
PB&Js on the Way Up Volcan Villarica



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