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Travel on a shoestring. The 4 biggest budget travel myths revealed

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In this blog we will reveal the 4 biggest myths concerning travel on a shoestring. Since we adapted a digital nomadic lifestyle, with no income at all, we know everything about spending money exactly how we want to spend it. Which means spending money on stuff that actually adds value to our life. And not spending it on stuff that doesn’t bring value. I write this down and I realize this is the core of budget traveling.

Budget traveling = learn how to maximize the value your dollar adds to your life

We managed to budget travel New Zealand for only 777 USD per person per month. Including owning a car, and going all around the Southern and Northern Island. Impressive isn’t it? It still makes me proud although it is already 1,5 year ago.


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
This is an impression of what we carried with us in our own car in NZ for three months.

Travel on a shoestring means you are confronted with social pressure

Traveling implies meeting new people. Meeting new fellow travelers. Some of them are doing the hardcore budget thing, others don’t. The pressure reveals itself if you hang out with your new friends and somebody wants to check out that new bar. You don’t want to be the one who counts his or her bucks all the time but you also know you need to invest in people if you want to hang out with them. And you also know the activity doesn’t match your budget.    

You will always have to deal with a certain amount of group pressure when you travel. It is not cool not to participate in activities because you don’t want to pay for it. Especially if it concerns partying or drinking. You think fellow travelers will disapprove of your choices and you fear you will become the hostels’ most wanted outcast. All of these things are not true. It is only a created truth in your own head.

Be confident and don’t let social pressure blur your own thoughts and feelings about how to spend your money.

In the case about checking out the new bar. Do you know for sure that people think you are lame if you don’t hangout with them? Probably the answer is no. Which is awesome because now you have influence to re-arrange your own thoughts about the topic!

Travel on a shoestring
Couchsurfing is a good way to learn how you react to ‘social’ pressure. To feel comfortable in somebodies personal habitat is a skill I needed to learn. In the beginning I gave to much of my own energy to entertain the host. Over time and experience I learned to balance this. We even played Santa in Ho Chi Minh 🙂


Travel on a shoestring is another way to say: ‘you have an awful time!’

I think one of the most common things to think about budget traveling is that you have an awful time. How is it possible to have a good time if you travel on a shoestring?


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
Travel on a shoestring means to be grateful with hospitality. This improvised bedroom in a kitchen of a hostel in Guatemala was perfect for that moment. We were tired. Couldn’t find a decent place. And Carlos from Colibri Casa Xela Hostel saved us.


Travel on a shoestring means  you sleep in a lousy awful dirty place, that you eat terrible food that makes you sick and that you don’t have fun and you sit in your room the whole day.

Some people think: Why do you travel in the first place, if you travel on a shoestring?

Let’s put things in perspective. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. The only thing you have to know is; what do you like to do? What are the factors that make you are having a great time while you travel? Know your source of fun and you are able to reduce costs. Spend it on the main sources of your fun, and not on the rest. If you want to travel on a shoestring it is important to know yourself. It helps you to make more conscious choices about what you do. Limiting your options automatically makes you more creative. And that is a lot of fun!

One of our main sources of fun is sitting down at a random place with a lot of local activity. We can sit there for hours and enjoy our observations of local life. Have chats with complete strangers. Enjoy local food and read or write a little bit. Before we know it we let slip the sunset.


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
Travel on a shoestring by public transport. We were sailing at dawn on a boat in Myanmar and blended with locals.

Myth 1- Travel on a shoestring makes you a ‘cheap’ traveler

Travel on a shoestring doesn’t mean ‘I don’t want to spend money’. This is definitely a myth about traveling on a shoestring.

Budget travelers want to spend money. But spending money happens more deliberately. Are you cheap because you think certain expenses don’t add value to your travels?

In the end travel on a shoestring also means creating a thick skin. People think a lot about other people. That is what people do. The good part is it doesn’t mean s@#t what other people think of you. If people think you are cheap they will think you are cheap. The last thing you need to do is try to bend the opinion. This will transform your energy into negativity. And in the end people will still think you are cheap. That’s because most people are not open to redefine their own thoughts.

The hard part is: Don’t let people get under your skin. If you are sensitive for other persons opinions or a little bit insecure this is a challenge. There is no such a thing as a ‘cheap’ traveler, there are only ‘cheaply’ made assumptions.

So just don’t be bothered and do the things you want to do and spend the money the way you want to spend it.


Travel on a shoestring
Many times we choose to buy our own food and eat it at a random place which we like. This breakfast was at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

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Myth 2 – Travel on a shoestring implies you don’t have fun

This one is epic. Budget traveling means no fun at all. This is obviously a very strong myth. What I like about budget traveling is that it makes me aware of my needs and it makes me more creative to accomplish those needs. Because it takes more effort to get what I like or want, the bigger the euphoria is when I get or accomplish it.

For me it is fun to put effort in things you normally don’t want to put energy in and be rewarded with a great satisfaction and probably a nice surprise as the outcome.

Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
Having fun in the pool of local people who invited us to stay with them in India. Our perspective was different. But after 5 seconds we had the best time in the pool we had in a long time.

Myth 3 – Travel on a shoestring narrows down your travel experiences

Traveling means you have to make choices. Budget travelling means you need to be sure about those choices. In the end you can not do everything you want. This is not only limited to money but also limited to time.

It is true when you don’t care about how to spend your money you have more options. It is not true when you do pay attention how to spend your money you narrow down your activities. What you need to do is to be more creative and be open to other options.

My final thought is – ‘If you are brave enough not to give a d@#n about what other people think of you you will set yourself free in everything you do’. On the side you probably save yourself a lot of money and because of that you can travel twice as long.


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
We want to try every time something new. To stretch our comfort zone and to experience new adventures. To hitchhike in a country where hitchhiking doesn’t exist is exhilarating. Welcome to Vietnam and this is a fun ride isn’t it?

Bonus myth 4 – Travel on a shoestring means sleeping in rooms with walls covered with poop, eating dry rice and having terrible concrete wall views from your room

Do we need to say more? Get inspired by some of our pictures taken along our travels. To get an impression what travel on a shoestring means to us.

Happy awful travel on a shoestring 😉

Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
You can see I am in doubt where to start concerning our Mexican meal. Marleen is chilling in the hammock. This what we call emancipation 😉


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
This is at a small village around enormous rice paddies in the southern part of China, Yunnan. We were invited by a local old man. Pigs and chickens ran through the house while we drank our tea.


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
We took this shot at the Northern island of NZ. Living and sleeping in your own bought car is the best way to cut down your expenses in NZ.


Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers
The best coffee we had. DIY coffee at one of the best places to drink it. This is a spot where they filmed a peace of Lord of the Rings in NZ.

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Travel on a shoestring with the perfect strugglers

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