Inexpensive travel can be accomplished in two basic ways. First, get the best deals on the specific things you want. This approach is very limited though. For example, if you find the lowest price on the best hotel in Honolulu at the height of the season, you’ll save money, but still have a very expensive room. Trying to get exactly what you want – or think you want – is an expensive proposition, in travel and in life.
The other approach to inexpensive travel is to be an opportunist. This may be difficult for some, and entirely unacceptable to others. Nonetheless, the travelers who get to travel the most, learn the most and do the most, are the opportunists.
When I first went to Ecuador, I went because it was cheap. If it wasn’t, I would have had a great time anyhow – somewhere else. A month cost $1045, including airfare, a $130 fee for a guide to take me to the top of glacier-covered Mount Chimborazo, and everything else.
I cut the cost by taking a bus from my home in Michigan to Miami. Round-trip ticket: $158. The round-trip flight to Quito from Miami costs $256, because it was a courier flight. This meant I signed for some luggage (car parts), and could only take carry-on luggage.
I never felt deprived or bored. I had a great time, eating wherever it was cheap and clean, doing inexpensive and interesting things, and traveling across the country to climb Chimborazo. I also met and fell in love with my wife Ana.
How To Be An Opportunist Traveler
Can you drink rum at a dollar per bottle, instead of your favorite beer? Can you eat chicken instead of steak? How about visiting the free sights first, and dancing in the street festival instead of the disco?
As an opportunistic traveler you’ll have more fun, and almost everything you want – eventually. Just stop trying to get exactly what you want exactly when you want it. If the guide for Chimborazo hadn’t dropped his price from $200 to $130, I would have spent $2 for a bus and gone hiking on El Altar, another great Andean mountain. It would have left me with enough money for several other minor adventures.
There are many things to learn about how to travel cheap. On our last trip to Ecuador, for example, my wife and I discovered a way to save $1000 on plane tickets. Good information can save you a lot of money. A flexible, open-minded approach, however, is the real key to inexpensive travel.