We recently participatedinacolumn where several travelers compared their budgets head-to-head. We were surprised to see that we spent less per month than any other traveler featured on the page. This got us pondering why and how this happened and reflecting on if there had been anything we regret skipping on account of our budget.
More to the point though; did keeping to our budget leave us with any lingering regrets? We have a few, but as we discussed them last night a certain peace came over us as we realized there weren’t too many, and they weren’t huge things that we feel cheated from enjoying.
- Patagonia – We spent a lot of time busing down to the tipofArgentina and back up again. In hindsight we wished we’d take the ferry down the Chilean coast of Patagonia to where we hikedtheW and then worked our way back up. We would have seen far more (courtesy of the ‘cruise-like’ ferry) and broken up the return journey north a bit better. We also might have had slightly nicer weather in Bariloche, Argentina. Cost was the principle driver in not taking the ferry but timings, a desire to hit some whitewaterinPucon, and a hope of getting to Antarctica all combined to help us make the wrong decision.
- After hikingKilmanjaro, enjoying a Safari, whitewaterboogieboarding in Jinja, and paying the bill for GorillatrackinginUganda…we were feeling like we’d completely destroyed our bank accounts in a matter of days. This led us to bus across Kenya from Uganda to coastal Lamu. We soon wished we’d flown. The flights didn’t work out perfectly but it would have been better than that hectic 24 hours of bus after bus after bus. At that point in time we also had no idea how we were going to be heading northtoEthiopia and were expecting to fork over some major cash for big, last-minute African airfares in the coming weeks.
It seems that there were two very big keys to keeping our costs down. First, overland travel meant sleepingonbuses and trains rather than paying for constant airfares. We decided early on that we enjoyed traveling this way and don’t regret that decision. Second, we spent only one month in Europe and skipped on Australia and New Zealand. Although we’d hoped to make it to the South Pacific, we were simply too tired and homesick when the time came. Our route also kept us traveling most of the time in shoulder seasons where the climate wasn’t quite perfect (not a lot of vacationers driving prices up) but still good enough for us to enjoy ourselves. The only time the whole trip we had to deal with high season was while we were traveling through Turkey.
While in the Americas we generally erred on the side of keeping to our budgets and passing on the big items (e.g. Galapagos Islands) because we are from United States and those sites are much easier to enjoy to later in life than say, Uzbekistan. For the rest of the planet, we adopted a mental policy of treating ourselves to the big ticket items if we wanted to do them. Faced with $100-$200 bungee jumping and adventure swings in South Africa and Zimbabwe, we decided to skip and don’t regret those decisions….We also don’t regret the big bucks we spent for game viewing, visas, and climbing mountains.
Although many travel with philosophies that differ from ours, we all have budgets and all make decisions…both good and bad.