Because my brain continues to convince me saving money is a good idea, if not a necessary evil, I buy bread and cheese at local markets for lunch, and frequent the youth hostels of the globe. Just as well: I’m uncomfortable in fancy hotels and restaurants anyway, where I have to give up my faded jeans and torn t-shirts and be on my best behavior. Not to mention the anguish over when and how much to tip.
(4) Local flavor: You can't beat walking and talking for getting to know a place. On Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, I skipped the luxurious hot springs spa and headed straight for the annual Fall Festival (a mini agricultural fair, complete with goats and geese and apple pies). For $15, I got homemade blackberry pie, honky tonk music, and bleating sheep. In Japan, I spent several days watching street parades and charades, and sampling the street food, at a cherry blossom festival in a mountain town. This doesn’t work for the traveler who wants to be escorted to one sight after another and constantly entertained. Instead, it grounds you in the local scene and introduces you to its citizens. This, for me, is one of the best reasons for traveling.
5) Comfort: OK, I won't suggest that sharing a dorm room and bathroom in a hostel is comfortable. But try this on: taking a bus or train is easier and less stressful than flying. Last week, I took a Bolt Bus from Vancouver to Bellingham, Washington, for $14 and a Greyhound from Bellingham to Seattle for $11. I showed up 20 minutes before the bus, personally placed my suitcase in the luggage locker and retrieved it later without delay, and climbed aboard without waiting in lines, taking off my shoes, or going through machines. Last year I took Amtrak to Savannah, Georgia, for Thanksgiving--11 hours and $99--and was calm and relaxed when I arrived. The Greyhound seats are as comfortable as a plane, while Bolt and Amtrak are waaaayyy more comfortable than Delta or American. The delays are no worse than on airlines. The bathrooms are less accommodating; on the other hand, the buses and trains have free wifi. Whenever the bus or train trip is less than 8 or 9 hours, the time spent either comes out way ahead of, or, at worst, is the same as the time spent in airports and airplanes. Eight hours will get me as far as Boston.
6) Fun: Budget travel is not for everyone.
As for me, however, I get my kicks out of interacting more closely with people, keeping my feet on the ground, exploring the local economy, and keeping more greenbacks (or Euros or krona) in my wallet. I don't deprive myself -- while I save on some things (accommodation, transportation), I often splurge on others (food, museums). And in the end, I can go more places if I stretch my dollars along the way.
I've hung out my shingle. I am taking appointments now for consultations on how to budget for traveling inexpensively yet comfortably and enjoyably!