Last updated on May 13th, 2020; Published on August 4th, 2017
So recently, a friend of a friend read my (micro) budget travel series and had a comment about how these trips were too stressful to be worth it. While I do appreciate honest feedback anytime, I feel like I need to address this anyway. So, grab a cup of tea and let’s discuss! (I had a cup of tea picture – had to use it 🙂 )
I don’t believe travelling has to be too expensive and I try to prove that by taking very rewarding budget trips to places around me. Often this involves land transport and all the hassles that come with it. Right now, I don’t mind all of it. In the not-so-distant future though, I doubt that I’ll be willing to subject myself to these same experiences. But right now, I don’t mind them. (I actually enjoy the challenge low-key!)
Of course, “expensive” is relative.
Let’s say a trip to South Africa costs N500K but being the cost-cutting maestro that you are, you were able to go on the same trip for about N250K, would you say that’s a cheap trip? (I’m assuming your answer is ‘yes’) – in the context of this discussion. It doesn’t necessarily mean that N250K isn’t a substantial amount of money. It is.
But let’s say N500K gives you a 5* hotel stay, business class rides and other luxurious perks. You wouldn’t honestly expect to get the same perks with N250K (all things being equal). Basically, you’ll get what you pay for.
Bringing that logic home, you wouldn’t expect to travel to the Benin Republic with N20K, stay in a luxurious resort, not have to deal with with the hassles of immigration for that amount. For the immigration bit, you should blame the corrupt system. (You spend most of the time at the borders haggling with the officials.)
It’s also worth remembering that travel experiences shared on this blog are personal. I mean, you could be lucky to have a stress-free pass. After all, many people often go through the back roads without passing through immigration. Or you could get a free ride and breeze through immigration like I did entering Togo for the first time. Experiences may be similar but there will be variations here and there.
Why then do I go on these trips even though they seem to be super stressful? The simple answer is that I can afford to. It is a choice that I consciously make and it is proving a point. It’s one thing to say ‘you can travel cheaply’ and it’s another to show you how you can.
Not all my trips have been dirt cheap. Our game drives in Tanzania were anything but budget. If I were to put up a breakdown for that, it would be fueling the same perception that I am seeking to change with this blog. Travel can be expensive but it does not always have to be.
Bottom line is this: Luxury travel is not cheap and cheap travel is cheap for a reason. You will have to compromise on a lot of things. You will share rooms with strangers in hostels or couchsurf, you’ll bus-hop, rather than having a single ‘AC’ ride to your destination. But does this mean you will not have a great experience? Absolutely not! Just ask me!