Friday, November 18, 2011

Indie Travel - Budget

Tight, light, flagrant, wanton, splurging?

I've traveled all the ways....from spending almost all I had on a trip to India many years ago, eating at the finest restaurants, air and train travel, nice hotels, etc, to living in Mexico by house sitting for an expat American so I didn't have to pay a dime for housing. On this trip to the east coast, I'm exploring travel as a lifestyle. My house in New Mexico is rented, I'm free. I have a van.

Anyone peeking into the window might assume a homeless person is living in her car. I have a bed made from a foam mattress, some boxes full of things, a rechargable lamp, sacks of food and clothing, two messy looking sleeping bags and a pillow. And that's just in the back. The few times I've had a passenger I needed to move the coolers, maps, books and electronics.

For grins I've been keeping a record of how much I spend. Since I'm also staying with people in various modes of house sitting, being a guest and farming, I haven't spent all that much on food. The one big purchase was a GPS which saved my tush a couple of times and has frustrated the hell out of me at other times.

One of the WOOFer's at the farm said that people who don't value travel aren't willing to give up anything to have it, they'd prefer to stay safe and secure at home, building wealth. My reaction to that was that I've given up nothing except occasional comfort to do this trip. But I'd worked 40 years of my adult life and she is just 23. She'd given up a job and education to travel. That's quite a sacrifice. In some ways I wish I'd been that adventurous at her age. My entire life would have turned out differently. And if I'd given up building a career, home and family, I'd not be where I am today. It's all a question of choices.

Budgets are too. How in debt do you want to be in order to take a trip or travel full time? Some people have figured out how to make ends meet in various ways while living the lifestyle of travel. That's my goal. While I don't have to work, I'm not rich. This life makes me happy and if I work it right, costs very little, certainly not breaking the bank. In fact, it's allowing me to spend money for the things I want, like camera gear and entry into attractions. It's giving me time, all the time in the world.

I don't need or want a large motor home complete with satellite TV and running water. If I do this indefinitely, I might want to invest in that kind of rig, but for now, camping in the van, experiencing the cold, the heat, the crows and chipmunks that steal food, and what feels like a grounded 'real' life is just the ticket.