I have been on the road for nine months straight as I write, and I have slowly noticed how I changed my budget habits overtime. Initially, I had a big plan, quite a small budget, and an indicative daily expense limit that would make most people laugh – or faint. I was mostly successful in keeping expenses between 5 and 10 $ a day by travelling in a very cheap region – the Indian subcontinent -, using Couchsurfing or seeking local hospitality as much as I could, sticking only to public transportation and local meals. By strictly adhering to my own rules, I managed to spend 5 and a half months across India, Nepal and Bangladesh and spending about 1000$ for me and my girlfriend together. But I also have to say that the very low price came with another kind of expense: some sort of travel burnout.
After three more months and almost at the end of an Asia to Europe overland trip along the Silk Road, by trying to adhere to the same rules that made my Indian vagabonding highly rewarding, I must admit: I feel that sticking to the planned budget is working less. And it is not because of the different prices of accommodation, food and transportation in different countries, as all of the above can be overcome by the more resourceful on a tight budget. I feel it is because, as I see myself nearer to the end of one year of travel bliss, I am pushed to abandon my strict budget plan, and enjoy things in a more economically relaxed way.
At the beginning, I would never have chosen to have a sporadic breakfast in a café, opting instead for the street food at the market’s stalls. But now, as I stretch the last dollars and I still try to make it within the limits of a tight sum, the whole budget idea is not that important anymore. It may be the prospective of returning, and settling into some new sort of job that is giving more security and allows spending more leisurely. Or it may just be that, after a long time trying to make everything fit into the lowest possible expenditure in order to stay on the road the longest, a traveler just needs to forget about budgeting to feel like there is a change in a daily travel routine. Did you ever have similar feelings?