Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How we do it

We often hear that people wonder how it is that we can travel like we do. People don’t ask us. They usually ask our family or often our friends. I’m sure it’s because they don’t want to appear nosy or want us to think it’s not polite to ask. Some of the answers that they get from our family or friends are.

 -   Oh, you don’t want to do what they do. No one wants to travel
   on their budget.
 -  They hunt for their own food when they travel. It makes it much   
-       They sleep in very budget places, or on the beach. No one would want to do that.
-       They hide their kids in the suitcases.
-       All they eat is bread and peanut butter when they travel(our kids would probably answer that way too!)
-       We have no idea!
-       They are nuts!
-       ????

 We on the other hand, don’t mind at all when people ask us how we do what we do. The biggest thing that makes our travel obtainable is that we make it our priority. We not only make it our priority in how we save for travel. We also make it a priority in the way we travel.

We do travel on a very tight budget. When we go on a long-term trip, our budget while on the road is usually around $100/day or $50/day in places like Asia. This does not include our flights to the location. But does include food/lodging/entertainment. This is our family budget.
$100/day works really well in countries like Central America or Asia. Does not work as well in Europe or New Zealand. But, we have been pretty close while traveling through those countries.

The best way to save money while traveling is by finding a place to spend the night that is economical. When we found out and tried couchsurfing. It changed our travel budget forever. But more importantly, it changed our way of thinking about how we can meet and get to know local people. It is one our most favorite ways to now travel.

Couchsurfing is a community of over 5 million members in 97,000 cities — and every country — around the world. Our website connects travelers and locals who meet offline to share cultures, hospitality and adventures – whether on the road or in their hometowns.
Our Mission is simple: Create inspiring experiences.
We envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. Building meaningful connections across cultures enables us to respond to differences with curiosity, appreciation and respect. The appreciation of diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community.

While in New Zealand, we will not be staying in hotels.
At all.
For two months.
Why not?
Because we can’t afford to. Also, because we love to stay with people. To get to know who the people are that live in the countries that we are visiting. What a better way to travel if what you want to do is to learn about where you are and the people who live there.

If what you want is a relaxing vacation on the beach in a tropical location. Couchsurfing is not for you, or for us for that matter. If we were to go to Cancun to hang on the beach for a week, we would stay in a hotel. Maybe, an all-inclusive hotel. With Pina coladas!

But, this trip is not about vacationing. This trip is about learning about our world. Meeting the people who live in our world and educating ourselves about them. This is the type of travel we love. The other benefit to Couchsurfing is that it is a free place to stay. This makes it affordable for us to travel for a longer duration.

There’s way more to “how we can afford to travel”. It has to do with living below our means, paying off debt as fast as possible for many years, doing without while traveling, saving, saving, saving and biggest of all, making it a priority in our lives. Travel on a budget is a much different way to travel. But for us, the benefits outweigh the hardships.

It also makes for a great story!

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