Learn to Travel with Less
Beginner explorers often opt for cheap travel options, with trip research consisting of working the Skyscanner system. A quick search for local hostel prices is enough to decide whether you can afford this trip.
Experienced travellers, though, become a bit pickier.
As my travel writing career progressed, I started to look further afield, building up a destination bucket list. This led me to places like Colorado, which, although spectacular, are not cheap. There are hardly any budget hostels and I ended up staying in a mixture of high-end hotels and stranger’s sofas.
While the Marriott at Denver Airport is a worthwhile luxury experience, it doesn’t offer me the same joy I can get from cheap travel accommodation.
The greying businessmen in suits can’t compare to that girl in the hostel who lit a bong with a blowtorch and then did a headstand. Or even the guy who drank beer from a shoe for no reason at all.
So up your Skyscanner game and start falling in love with cheap travel again.
Cheap Travel Restores Simplicity
Maybe I’m a travel purest, but going abroad is all about getting back to basics. When everything you own fits in a carry-on sized backpack, your life is simplified. You have what you need and nothing more. Your mind is focused on getting where you need to go, feeding yourself, and finding a safe place to sleep.
This simplicity – this focus on the essentials – is what makes travel so good for your mental clarity. It puts everything in perspective.
So you’ve left all the drama behind; the unnecessary nonsense that was taking up too much mental space. Why would you jeopardise this by flying first class or staying in a posh hotel? Suddenly your expectations are raised and so too is your chance for disappointment.
Rather than being grateful for a roof over your head, you start feeling grumpy about an out of order lift or cold coffee at the unlimited breakfast buffet. Luxury travel, while okay once in a while, is just worse.
You lose focus of what really matters. You lose the adventure.
The Cheap Travel Option is More of an Adventure
Everything about cheap travel is more exciting. If money was no object, you’d book the fastest flight on the finest airline at the most convenient time. You’d arrive at your destination, having achieved nothing. You’d then take a taxi to a comfortable city centre hotel.
I’m all for making life easy on yourself. But to be meaningful, travel needs some hardship; some obstacles to overcome and proper adventure.
One of my first solo travel ventures was to Warsaw. It was a £20 return flight from Birmingham, but it arrived at 11 pm, with the first bus into town not until 6 am. I could have spent more money for a more convenient flight but I’m glad for choosing the cheap travel option.
Saving the cost of a hotel by sleeping in the airport, I got hooked on the adventure of finding a place to rest. From the airport chapel to the kid’s playhouse, it becomes a game.
I tried this same trick on a flight to Rome but after booking my flight, I realised the airport shuts at midnight. So I booked a cheap hostel next to the airport. Unfortunately, it was on the other side of the airport – a good hour walk down main roads in the pitch black of night.
It’s not convenient, but it sure is fun.
Cheap Accommodation Builds Lifelong Friendship
One of the cheapest flight destinations is Faro. Though I had no particular longing for Portugal, the Skyscanner gods had spoken. It’s a country I’d never visited at a cheap price. It turns out the city is full of travellers and therefore has plenty of budget hostels.
I settled on Hostellicious, being cheap with great reviews. The place is crawling with the most down to earth and chilled out people.
Over the course of 10 days, we’d all formed a close bond which continues years later. I didn’t get much sleep but sleep can wait.
In the end, it was worth it to meet and bond with some of the coolest people, whether they were British, Brazilian, Czech, Irish, Slovakian, or anything else. I’ll never forget the friends I made in this city of cheap flights and low-cost lodging.
When I could have booked myself a cut-off, isolated, soundproof, lonely hotel room, I picked the cheap and lively hostel. I’m still reaping the rewards of lifelong memories and unbreakable friendship.