Traveling indefinitely is not always easy.
It has shitty moments — like you’re headed to the airport and your friend’s car breaks down leaving you stranded. And it has its finer moments — a perfect stranger stops to help and drives two hours out of their way to ensure you make your flight.
And juggling finances from day-to-day is always tricky business.
To save money and get by in leaner times (i.e. when I am not working due to exploring some new destination), I have lived or “crashed” in a number of places I never would have imagined calling “home.”
1) Hostels. Great places to meet like-minded travelers and while some of them are amazing, some are a bit less impressive. Regardless, all hostels offer budget-style accommodation with dorm-share or camping options (sometimes even couch or hammock options during busy times) being cheapest. I have stayed in 32-bed dorms on a few occasions to make the most of my dollars, and it wasn’t that bad.
2) Tent. To stretch my budget, there actually came a time when I intentionally set foot in a camping store and purchased a basic two-man tent for a mere investment of $40 AUD. This tent combined with an inexpensive air-matress proved one of the best make shift homes I’ve had on the road and it still lives in the boot of my car in case I must return to the wild.
Now let’s be clear that before I purchased the tent:
a) I had no clue how to set one up.
b) I hated camping and tents, and the idea of being dirty in nature whilst surrounded by horrible stinging, biting bugs.
Yet, my scientific experiment was successful. Camping is, in fact, a good way to conserve dollars.
3) Swag. This is something like a tent and a sleeping bag combined. However, the one I used in the outback of Australia was much more sleeping bag-esque with a thin mattress and pillow. It was OK after I convinced myself spiders and snakes didn’t exist …. Perhaps this is more for the rugged outdoorsman or woman. I’ll be sticking with my tent in the future.
4) Car. When driving long distances alone or when the weather is a bit too scary to ride out in a tent, I have found that sleeping in my car is the way forward. (In Australia, they actually prefer you pull over and nap at a rest stop then continue driving while tired and cause a crash.) Luckily, I am small enough to curl up in the back seat and snooze.
5) Van. Sure, this is pretty closely related to the car. In Australia and New Zealand, many travelers rent or buy campervans. These vans serve as transportation as well as accommodation making them quite economical though I still have not stayed in one. Instead, I have stayed in a broke down passenger van sitting in my friend’s driveway. It was not really meant for sleeping in like a campervan; but after removing the seats and making use of my air-matress, it was alright for a week or so. And about halfway through my stay, the van’s slider door fell off. Oh well, what would life be without a few ridiculous surprises? Plus, I really needed to save money.
And this brings me to:
6) A friend’s couch. I would never abuse this option, but staying with friend’s or friend’s of friends while passing through or after a bad run of luck is a way to survive. Of course, these friends are always welcome to stay with me if visiting or in need. And they know who they are!
In the end, these experiences have taught me that I need very little to live. Yet, I have also learned to fully appreciate the luxury of living in a home with all the desired creature comforts. And of course, I have learned home is where the heart is — essentially, wherever it is I am happy.