How To Travel On $4 A Day

How To Travel On $4 A Day

All you need is a little bit of bravery and a hungry curiosity for the world.
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I believe that it is a misconception that you need to have a ton of money to travel. You just need to be comfortable roughing it a little bit. Some people consider it a necessity to have television, Wi-Fi and a full amenity pool. Others strive to find the non-tourist experience. I was in pursuit of the latter. I want to experience a place as if I belonged there. I want to walk the streets and people watch.

This last January, I bought a plane ticket headed to India, secured a visa and swung my day pack around my shoulder. I didn’t anticipate much, but I knew that I had access to a few open doors that I could stay with, about $100 that was transferred into rupees and a hungry curiosity for the world. I ended up only spending $4 a day my whole trip. I’d like to share some tips on how you can make that a reality as well.

Choosing A Destination

The cost of living is different all over the world, as is the price of a plane ticket there. I chose my destination by the google flights tool. I typed in LAX as a starting major airport and then clicked explore. If you haven’t explored this tool before, then I highly recommend it!

A map will come up with thousands of options and prices. I made a list of 10 cheap options, did some research and landed on India. I had no idea how good of a choice that would be until I arrived. The Rupee to USD exchange ratio is 66:1, so $4 goes an incredibly long way. If I had chosen to travel to Australia, then my dollar wouldn’t have gone nearly as far. According to a friend that I met there, the average monthly income is about 3,000 rupees ($45) for a working class job. So you can imagine how that reflects the cost of living!

Hosts!

Hotels and hostels are often the bank breaker on trips. If you can find a way to cut those out of the equation, then it’s easy to travel comfortably on $4 a day. There are two great organizations that have a network of home stays that are easy and accessible to use. As a solo traveler, I also appreciated the company and friendship that came along with these encounters.

Couchsurfing.com is a free travel organization that anyone with a Facebook can sign up for. You can see people’s interests and hobbies, and choose someone that you’d like to meet.

Another amazing organization is Servas. They are an international organization that believes the only way we can have world peace is through citizens meeting citizens. This organization is for the travelers who are a bit more cautious and would like an organization that background checks its members. The requirements to join are two letters of recommendation, an application, a fee and an interview. I traveled using this resource, and it was amazing to be fed and clothed and taken into people’s homes. Servas is an older organization, and their online platform needs work. However, it’s also a strength of theirs because their face to face network is so strong.

Dining That's Fine

Food is a necessary expense, but there are choices in dining as well! If you are traveling to a country where the cost of living is relatively inexpensive and you aren’t paying for much else, then living on $4 a day for food is a comfortable budget. I was staying with a family in Ajmer, India and bought one pound of potatoes, one pound of green beans, two onions, 10 carrots and a handful of peppers for only 50 rupees. That’s less than $1! Buying groceries is a great, but not always realistic option when traveling. I encourage you to try street food as a budget friendly option for food. What better way to fully experience a place? A good sign for quality is if there are crowds or lines for the vendor. If you’re in Europe, then certain kinds of food can be more budget friendly, such as Turkish and Greek food!

Domestic Travel

The safest and cheapest way of traveling as a foreigner is by the local trains. This may sound counter intuitive since that often means more people and less amenities, but the stories about abductions and fraud are always associated with tourist buses, not the local ones. I was able to travel significant distances on only a few dollars. But something I learned was the value of a second class sleeper ticket on trains. The general admission tickets were 90 rupees ($1.34) to go 115 miles from Agra to Delhi. But to upgrade to a sleeper class, it was less than a dollar more, and you get a spacious bunk bed to stretch out and relax on. This is especially useful if you are traveling a long enough distance that you could sleep on the train that night. Traveling by night is a great way to see a wide range of places on a short trip because you can travel and sleep at the same time.

All in all, traveling does not require a huge budget. In fact, you can have a life changing two week excursion, and live for well under $100. All you need is a little bit of bravery and a hungry curiosity for the world. It’s such a gift to live in a world so full of color and culture, so why not take advantage it now? All you need to do is buy a plane ticket and say, “Sayonara!”

Cover Image Credit: Google Maps

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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