Category Archives: budget

Hostel living

When I decided to head to Chile, I started thinking of the most economical way to do it.  I knew I wanted to travel city to city but I knew hotels would be too expensive for me to stay at.

 

Not having any idea about what it was like to stay in a hostel, except with a misconception that they are dorm rooms with a lot of partying young people, I decided to at least take a look and see what the pictures show.  To my surprise, hostels are not only dorms!!  In fact, this is the best way to travel in my opinion!  I was able to get single rooms in all the hostels I have stayed at – and in fact, two of them I had full apartment style rooms.  With my own kitchen, my own bathroom, a table to sit at and a terrace to sit out on at night.  And luckily for me, they were both at my two favourite places of Chile – La Serena and San Pedro.  And I am happy to say that NONE of the hostels have had any loud parties that didn’t allow me to sleep.  For that, I am very grateful!

 

In Santiago, I was lucky enough to find an apartment for the week I was there – which was good.   It helped me just rest, be on my own, get over major jet lag and get used to a new country.  After that – it has been all hostels.  Single rooms, with a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen.  This time of year here in Chile, it is the end of winter so there are not as many people travelling and I was fortunate to be able to have the place in Valparaiso to myself for 4 of the nights I was there.

 

Most of them have been great, with great owners who are super friendly, meeting other travellers from all over the world.  And hostels are very reasonably priced.  Far cheaper than a hotel, with amenities like a kitchen to use.  I have only been disappointed with one (the first one I was at in Antofagasta – dirty kitchen and unfriendly hosts – I was happy to be there for only three nights!).

 

I know my travelling has not finished – there are so many other places I want to see – and I now know that staying in hostels is the way to go for me.  They aren’t for everybody, I know, but for anyone who is looking to save money and travel longer, definitely research hostels – single rooms are a bit more than the dorm rooms, but definitely worth it to check out!!

The “unglamorous” life of travelling

I read a lot of blogs.   My favourite are the travel blogs.  I recently read a blog that talked about “quitting your job and traveling” and was slightly surprised at the negative comments the blog received.  Comments like, you have to be an upper middle class person to be able to do. Or, if I had a relative leave me a big inheritance then I too could do that.  So much negative thinking!!

 

But what really struck me was the one comment that was made about how these blogs glamourize the idea – that the only blogs people are interested in are the ones that talk about the glamour of travel and not working.  I hope to prove that wrong.

 

Traveling is not cheap- but it doesn’t have to be expensive either.  I am NOT one of these people who inherited money, or am an upper middle class resident who can afford to be traveling and seeing everything that I am.  I am neither of these people.  I was (and still am) a very hard working person, who worked long long hours in order to save up enough to move to Europe, take a course to be a TEFL teacher, and set up home in Prague.  I was lucky to have found some great roommates along the way that helped with the expenses.  But I did it all – with absolutely NO credit cards.  I saved in Canada before I left.  When I started teaching in Prague, I worked every single day – Sunday to Saturday  – for at least the first six to seven months.  There were cancellations that enabled me to have a day off here and there –but it was hard work.  I finally managed to get a good working schedule going that I was able to take some weekends off.

 

After being in Europe for over a year, I finally managed to save enough money to actually go somewhere for a long weekend – London England.  And again – my entire trip was done with no credit.  All cash.   I followed that with trips to Berlin, Paris, back to Canada for five weeks, and then moved to China.  Was it easy? No!  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Every single minute of teaching so many days was worth it because of what I was able to manage to do.

 

Traveling is not always glamorous.  As I sit in my room here in Chile, writing this blog, I think about the hours of teaching I have done since getting here (when WiFi cooperates).  I get up most mornings between 5:30 and 6, teach for about 4 hours and am done at 10am. And then I can start my touristy stuff.  And I am okay with it.  Because I know that if I didn’t have the students that I do, I would NOT be able to be out here traveling through South America.

 

There are days that I would love to just shut off my phone, get up and just go – not worrying about the students and the work.  But I know that I need to do it because that’s part of my life.

 

I love my job, I love that I can teach from abroad, and I love traveling.  So long as I am able to do this, I will do this.  I have gone through a lot and will continue to go through more – life is a learning journey after all.  But I KNOW that if I can do this, then anyone can.  You simply need to have the drive.

 

So for those people with the negative comments about not being able to do this without an inheritance or a lot of savings – you are right – you won’t ever be able to do it.  Because that is what YOU have told yourself.

Traveling without credit ~ it is possible!!

Living a credit~free life is liberating but also challenging. In North America, most people live their every day life with at least one credit card in their wallet. For a long time, so did I. It’s been many years since I have given up the credit life. Has it been challenging? I would be lying if I said no. I have become frugal and disciplined in recent years.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of living and traveling with no credit.
One big advantage is you learn to spend only what you have and what you can afford. I do not live above my means. And there is not much impulse shopping!


Another advantage is learning to budget your money. I have become a master at budgeting, and also a little obsessed with Excel spreadsheets. I am very proud of my ability to budget as well as I do!
Many people are surprised that you can travel with no credit card. Europe and China are very willing to take cash as payments for hotels. Airline websites will take debit card payments. Bus and train tickets can be purchased this way too. It’s all about researching and finding the right websites.


Of course there are disadvantages. A huge disadvantage is not being able to get air mile rewards and bonus points. Many travellers I know have talked about the perks they receive from air lines ~ seat upgrades, even free flights. It’s not possible without a credit card, at least I have not discovered any yet.
Another disadvantage is in North America and traveling. Hotels want credit card information to reserve a room. Car rental companies won’t even consider renting a car without a credit card. While I understand the reasoning, I think it’s unfair to the people who travel on a cash~only basis.
Living and traveling in Europe and China has been quite simple as almost every place willingly takes cash for payment ~ including hotels. I am unaware if there are debt problems here in China as there are in North America, but it has been very nice living in a country that is so accepting of cash.


So don’t tell yourself that you can’t travel because you have no credit card ~ it’s definitely possible! It’s just a matter of discipline, budgeting and a lot of research. If I can do it, anyone can!