My time in Indonesia in 2019 is done. Finished. Kaput. Over. Now I'm in Australia, having begun my Working Holiday Visa. I've started a new job, and am excited about what Australia will bring. I already did a retrospective article on my time in Indonesia, but let's put the icing on the cake. Here is a breakdown of what I spent over those crazy, amazing eight weeks.
Food - $347.32
To anyone who has been following my travels, this should be of zero surprise to you. I love to try new cuisines, and Indonesian is quite a developed one. During my trip, I ate every single meal out, spending between $1-3 per meal. My daily average cost for food (about $6 per day) is far cheaper than it has been in most other countries. This is a testament to how inexpensive and filling food is in Indonesia.
Accommodation - $302.02
I'm pretty sure I never spent more than $9 for a night of accommodation during my whole stay in Indonesia. Hostels are plentiful in the more touristy areas and can be had for as cheap as $2-3 per night (often including free breakfast). Private hotel rooms can easily be had under $10 in most cities.
Transport - $219.83
Although Indonesia has possibly the WORST public transit of any place I've been to, it's not too expensive. Because good public options aren't always available, however, it isn't as cheap as in a country like India. Bemos, taxis, buses, and boats are just a few ways of getting around.
Activities - $210.52
The main chunk of this spending comes from the 4-day 3 night Komodo National Park boat trip I took (costing around $165), and man, was it worth it! It is quite easy to spend a lot on activities in Indonesia, so watch out for your budget!
Miscellaneous - $135.47
This includes everything else: toiletries, laundry, clothes, currency conversion, etc.
Average daily cost of $21.32. Pretty good, considering that Komodo trip, huh? Indonesia is the kind of country you can easily travel on for $15-20 per day. Many tourists spend a fair bit more (especially in touristy places like Bali), which you'll want if there is anything specifically fancy you plan on doing. But if you want, you can bum it here and have an incredible time!
My two months trip in Indonesia is winding to a close. What an adventure it has been!
I had the pleasure of visiting a small chunk of this monstrously sized country, all in the eastern part AKA the Lesser Sunda Islands. During my trip to Indonesia, I went to 13 different islands. From most to least populous, they are:
Bali (4.3 million)
Lombok (3.3 million)
Flores (1.9 million)
Sumbawa (1.4 million)
Gili Air (1800)
Gili Trawangan (1500)
Gili Meno (500)
Gili Bola (n/a)
For scale, the population of these islands constitutes less than 11 million, or about 4% of the total population of Indonesia. When you look at the proportion of islands, the number gets even slimmer. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 17,508 islands in Indonesia. The 13 I visited make up just .07% of the islands in the country.
The point is, Indonesia isn’t really a country you can just “visit” to get a good sense of it. It is a mammoth and unwieldy place, and basically a mini-continent in its own right.
Indonesia is incredibly diverse in terms of religion and culture. Although the vast majority of the country adheres to Islam (no doubt Java’s 141 million population makes up for a massive chunk of that), there are large amounts of people practicing other religions. In fact, within the span of just a few weeks, I stayed on an island that was majority Hindu, some that were majority Muslim, and some that were majority Catholic. The country also sports over 300 ethnic groups and native languages.
I want to go into detail about various aspects of the adventure. For funsies, we’ll go from least to most pleasant.
The worst part of the trip was DEFINITELY transportation. Man, Indonesia really has some of the most atrocious public transit of anywhere I’ve been. Buses can be hard to come by outside of big cities, and most land transport is by way of shared minibuses (called “bemos”) and cars. Finding an adequate ride often takes a lot of searching, and the transport never ever leaves on time. Mostly, they will drive around for a long time filling up the vehicle until it’s at maximum capacity. And by maximum capacity, I mean being uncomfortably crammed into a seat that is way too small for most adult humans. Boats are usually a bit more comfortable (at least they are not usually THAT crowded), but it should be noted that their safety record in Indonesia is far from stellar.
Another major problem here is cleanliness and pollution. There is garbage strewn everywhere and it’s not a lovely sight. It’s a damn shame because so much of the landscape here would look way better without heaps of trash thrown about. It’s also very common for locals to burn their trash, so watch out for the daily plumes of smoke all over the place. It is clearly very toxic stuff to be breathing in and is a major contributor to air pollution in Indonesia.
The food that I ate was pretty good. I’d give Indonesian cuisine a B- rating overall (obviously subject to change if I ever explore more of the country). Don’t get me wrong, it’s usually cheap and tasty. However, the cuisine definitely does not have that WOW factor of the greatest cuisines (Indian, Thai, Malay, etc). The dishes of white rice and sides of protein/vegetables can get a bit boring. I wish Indonesian food had a bit more diversity in terms of their carb choices (though some regions do prioritize cassava), and utilized spices in a more complex fashion. Some of my favorite dishes include Soto Ayam (a type of chicken soup), Nasi Campur (a staple of rice with several side dishes, slightly different at each restaurant), and Rendang (a beef curry).
Many people visit Indonesia for beautiful beaches and sea life, and it’s no wonder why. I saw, swam in, and snorkeled in some incredible beaches during my two-month stay. Unfortunately, some of the prettiest beaches (I’m talking the tranquil Koka Beach in Flores) have issues with plastic on the sands and in the water. However, others are well-maintained. You will certainly not be lacking for ocean options when you visit Indonesia.
Maybe the pinnacle of my trip was a 4 day, 3-night boat cruise through Komodo National Park (and several other small islands). On both Rinca and Komodo island, we were able to see the fearsome dragons up close, as well as the prey animals (deer, boars, buffalo, monkeys) they survive on. All in all, this trip was one of the best $165 I’ve ever spent in my life, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Indonesia. I am currently waiting on several rolls of film to be developed, so I hope to be able to eventually share some incredible photographs from this journey!
I’m going to do a separate article on money and costs during my stay in Indonesia (spoiler alert: it’s a very inexpensive place to travel). Stay tuned!
New Zealand has a landscape totally unique to itself, and lots to offer to the enthusiastic backpacker. The scenery, especially in the South Island, cannot be beaten. If you are a fan of hiking, camping, trekking, or outdoor activities in general, and want to do it easily and safely, this country is for you.
Out of the 18 (and counting) countries I've been to, New Zealand is by far the easiest one to travel in. The infrastructure is good, crime is low, buses run on time, and every tourist town has a dedicated information center. It is extremely simple to book activities and arrange accommodation, whether you are camping, staying at hostels, or going a more luxurious route.
For what you get in ease of travel, you pay for in cost. Being a Western country, New Zealand isn't exactly a cheap tourist destination. However, I was able to keep costs reasonably low, by cooking most of my meals and staying in backpacker dorms. Additionally, I didn't pay too much for activities, because one of my favorite activities, hiking, is totally free! If you love taking short, beautiful hikes, the country will be a paradise for you.
Before getting into a cost breakdown, a couple of things should be noted. First is that New Zealand is undoubtedly a car country. While I found it easy to get to most of the places I wanted via buses, there are countless sites that cannot be seen without the use of a personal vehicle. Every once in awhile, I managed to hitch rides with car-owning friends that I met at hostels. However, the rest of the time, if something wasn't within walking distance of the town, I was shit out of luck. If you are coming here for an extended period of time, definitely consider buying or renting a car (though once again, I had an amazing time even without one)!
The other thing I should mention is that I traveled the off-season. The high season is December through March, and while the weather will likely be much better, prices for various things (hostels, etc) will be higher. I specifically chose September/October to travel in because it would be less crowded, prices would be lower, and the temperature outside wouldn't be completely awful. Maybe it's just that I got lucky with the weather, but I do not regret at all traveling during the off-season. I was able to spend less and deal with smaller crowds.
In total, I spent 39 days backpacking through New Zealand. I went as far south as Te Anau/Milford Sound and as far north as Auckland. Here is a breakdown of what I spent during those five and a half weeks (all costs will be described in USA dollars, NOT New Zealand dollars).
Food - $607.17
I spent the largest share of money on eating, and there is a simple explanation as to why; I ate out one meal per day. Many backpackers cook all their meals, but not having a car to store things in, I couldn't be fussed to prepare all of them. So I bought groceries most of the time but spent a fair amount eating out. Without having done this, I could easily have shaved hundreds off the cost. Oh well.
Accommodation - $519.49
There's not much that can be helped about this one, and for most people, this will constitute the lion's share of spending. I always stayed in hostel dorms, averaging about $14 per night. Not terrible, considering New Zealand is a Western country!
Transport - $368.31
I learned my lesson very early on, that booking bus tickets one by one would be too expensive. So I bought a "flexipass" from Intercity (NZ's main bus company). By booking a certain number of road hours, I was able to pay less per kilometer than if I'd paid individually for tickets. One thing to keep in mind: the more you buy upfront the cheaper it is. I could have saved even more had I bought a larger block upfront.
Activities - $177.89
This is a tricky one, as activities tend to be very expensive in New Zealand. A tour of Milford Sound set me back $80 and entry into Hobbiton was $54. A lot of people do things such as skydiving and bungee jumping, and these can cost hundreds. Thankfully, my free hiking "habit" led to this category costing not so much.
Miscellaneous - $74.89
Includes mobile data, laundry (quite expensive), toiletries, and other random expenses.
Average daily cost of $44.81. Despite freaking out a bit initially about how expensive New Zealand was going to be, I came out slightly under budget. I spent less than $45 per day, and I'd say that's excellent for a country like this. For a more comfortable time, you might want to budget a minimum of $50 per day, though this depends on what sorts of things you are planning on doing.
As I took the ferry from Picton, I realized this was it. This would be my last chance to see all the people I had met and places I had gone to in the ten months I spent in Wellington. Sure, I could always come back some other year, and keep in contact with various individuals. But it wouldn't be the same: the right people in the right places. Although I spent only three days in Wellington as an actual backpacker, I made sure to see as many old faces as I could. It had only been three weeks away on the South Island. But it already felt like a lifetime.
There were so many things I had missed during my time in Wellington, but I wouldn't have time to see them all. So I spent one day visiting the Weta Cave, tourist hub of the eponymous VFX and prop company (responsible for helping produce Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy). Another day, I went to my favorite restaurant, Great India. I had their $12 lunch special for the last time, and savored every last bite. I stayed at the hostel which had been my home for nearly a year, and hung out with the few long-termers that remained.
After Wellington, I went to Napier, a cool Art Deco styled city in Hawke's Bay. Then came Taupo, home to New Zealand's largest lake. There, I hiked to some waterfalls and later spent an afternoon checking out a thermal walkway full of steaming craters. A few days later, I headed to Rotorua, a city whose geothermal activity comes with a distinct sulfuric smell. I spent a good chunk of a day there hiking through a beautiful Redwood forest (planted at the beginning of the 20th century, not indigenous to New Zealand). At the peak of the trail was a beautiful view of Rotorua and its glorious steaming geysers and hot springs.
Hobbiton was the one touristy thing I felt compelled to do, so I booked a hostel in nearby Matamata and bit the bullet. Indeed, most of the things I was afraid of going in (heaps of tourists and endless fan lip service) were true. However, I still felt that I got some inspiration from visiting the movie set. As an aspiring movie director, it simply blew my mind that a set like this could be built. Hobbiton is essentially a small village built into farm hills, and the attention to detail is astounding. It feels like a real, lived-in place, and gave me a new appreciation for this kind of intricate set design.
The list of places I didn't get to see in the North Island is too large, so I won't even attempt to write them out. However, I will say the biggest thing I was unable to fit into my itinerary was the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (a long walk that passes over active volcanic terrain). The weather was way too cold to do the hike solo, and I would have had to pay $200 NZD to do it with a guide and alpine gear. Oh well, better luck next time!
The past few days have been spent lazing about in Auckland, trying lots of local eateries and relaxing. Tomorrow, I will be flying to Bali, Indonesia, in what promises to be a very different adventure from the one I have just concluded. I hope to follow up soon with a breakdown of my costs in New Zealand, so you, fellow traveler, can start planning your trip to this beautiful country!
The "working" part of my working holiday visa in New Zealand is over; cue the "holiday." After ten months of living and working in Wellington, I finally met my savings goals, quit my job, and headed back on the road. I'll be spending five weeks traveling through this gorgeous, stunningly beautiful country. I've begun near the bottom half of the South Island, and will be slowly moving northward.
This past year has been pretty emotionally draining, to be frank. It's the longest I've ever been away from the United States, and was spent pretty much the entire time in a backpacker hostel. Because I was working a full-time job during the week, and working reception at the hostel on weekends, I didn't really get a chance to go out and do much. It was just work work work work work.
On paper, I guess I accomplished most of what I set out to do. I produced and directed my very first movie, got a full-time job in Wellington (at a camera shop), and saved enough money to do some traveling as well. Because I was also working for accommodation at the hostel, I ended up saving around three-quarters of everything I earned. Here's a general idea of what I was able to save during my working holiday visa in New Zealand:
My 35-hour per week job at the camera shop paid $18.50 NZD per hour (that's a little under $12 USD). Including holiday pay, which was an extra 8% in each paycheck, my take home after taxes was about $585 each week. On average, I was able to save about $420 from each paycheck. That's about $1680 per month in savings (a bit over $1000 USD per month).
Now keep in mind, I didn't pay anything in rent. I don't drink much, and I didn't have free weekends to go out and spend a lot of money. I did still go out to eat several times per week, however, and went to the movies whenever I felt like it. Because my job was a ten-minute walk from the hostel, I didn't have to pay anything for transportation. I most certainly didn't own a car, because that would have been an extra hassle, and more of a financial burden.
A large chunk of the savings went toward making my film, then the rest went into savings for travel, with a bit put off to the side for my retirement account. I probably don't save anywhere near as much as I should for retirement, but I do put in some effort.
So here's the question: was it worth it?
That's a really tough question to answer. On one hand, I got to live in a different city, work some really chilled out jobs, and meet a lot of interesting people. There was also the short film project, which seriously helped me learn more about what it takes to produce and direct a movie. It also gave me the opportunity to work with local talented artists, and gave me some new perspectives on things.
On the other hand, I don't feel as if I progressed quite as much as I would have liked. After all, working in a city for a year is working in a city for a year. Whether it is in New Jersey, California, or New Zealand, a job is a job. When I have full-time work, I tend to put off doing fun things, until I quit that job, and then go into full swing enjoyment mode when I leave. It's probably not the healthiest mindset, and that is something I'll have to re-examine in myself.
As far as cities go, Wellington is a really charming one. The weather can be all over the place, which is definitely my least favorite thing about it. However, infrastructure is good, the city center is compact, and there is a huge number of restaurants, buses, and things to do.
Living at a backpacker's hostel for ten months has left me with mixed feelings. I probably wouldn't have been able to meet my savings goals without it, and I met lots of wonderful and cool people. However, the lack of privacy can be frustrating, as is the inconsistency of who is staying there. At least when you sign a lease for an apartment, you know who you'll be living with for the next year! At hostels, people come and go like the wind. One week you'll be chumming it up, the next, it is time to say goodbye.
Now I'm back on the road, to finally travel through the country I had patiently ignored. After the five weeks in New Zealand, I'll be flying to Indonesia. I'm really hoping to take the opportunity to see a lot of amazing places, and work on some creative projects I'd been putting off. It can be depressingly easy to lose track of what you want to accomplish in life. It's been hitting very close to home just how quickly procrastination can make time go by.
Although I am unsure of what the future holds, I know that it is far better to figure it out while enjoying the benefits of travel. One can feel lost in life behind the desk of a dead-end job, or one can feel lost in life while hiking through a beautiful mountain range. The truth is, we don't really know where we belong until we feel it. I choose to take another step forward.
Thank you to all who have continued to read this blog. I hope to have more content in the near future!
Until next time,
I don't usually like saying a country is "friendly" or "unfriendly." After all, there are good and bad people everywhere, and few regions fall into neat boxes like that. However, I'm going to break my rule when it comes to Nepal. Overall, this country was FRIENDLY as hell. While Nepal is quite a poor nation, I found the people to be generous, welcoming, and laid back. Compared to neighboring India, there was a relative lack of tourist scams and hassle. Moving from place to place was easy and convenient.
Nepal was the perfect place to relax my brain, and work on personal projects. While trekking, I continued practicing photography, and got some much needed exercise. There's something about climbing thousands of meters in elevation that stimulates the body and the mind, and challenges one to think outside the box. While in the capital, Kathmandu, I completed writing my first feature screenplay. I've never mentioned this on the blog, but it is my life's ambition to become a film director, and this was a huge first step. Writing a screenplay is to date one of the most fun and challenging projects I've undertaken. This gorgeous country afforded me a peace of mind that helped me express exactly what I needed to put into words.
While Nepal is by far one of the cheapest countries I've ever traveled in (if not the cheapest), the price comes with a caveat. Most tourists don't come to the country just to bum around and do nothing. Meaning, if you just want to relax and eat momos and stay in your hostel, you'll spend barely anything. However, you will likely be going to Nepal to do activities, be they trekking, national parks, or visiting historical sites. Activities come at an extra cost, which I will get into in the category breakdown.
I spent 25 days in Nepal, and managed to travel from the western border (Mahendranagar), until as far east as Kathmandu. Here is a breakdown of what I spent over those three and a half weeks:
Food - $181.82
While food was once again my biggest cost overall, it was relatively cheap. Meals could be had for $1-2 almost anywhere. The big exception is while trekking, where meal prices are inflated from 3-6x. A standard serving of Dal Bhat (Nepal's national dish) is usually 150 Nepalese rupees (approx $1.30). While doing the Poon Hill trek, it jumped to 400-600 rupees. Nonetheless, coming from a western country, food in Nepal is quite cheap and filling. Just stay away from the tourist restaurants in Pokhara.
Miscellaneous - $86.57
Includes everything from mobile data, to ATM fees, to haircuts. One thing to note, my debit card was discontinued by my bank (due to an unfortunate ATM scam in Pokhara), and I had to pay for a costly Western Union money transfer.
Activities - $77.07
Trekking permits and national park entry fees were accounted into this, as well as a single movie ticket I purchased in Kathmandu. Depending on what percentage of your trip will be spent trekking/going to national parks, this category can be much more expensive.
Transport - $72.04
Local buses are on par with India in terms of cost. The only thing that sucks about Nepal is that Uber (and Ola, India's ridesharing app) is not in operation. When taking a taxi or rickshaw, you always have to haggle, and will likely pay higher prices than locals.
Accommodation - $63.71
This one takes the cake, folks. Nepal is by far the cheapest country for accommodation I've ever traveled to. I never paid more than $5 for a hotel or hostel room during my entire trip. Rooms on the Poon Hill trek were free (in exchange for us eating all our meals at the guesthouse).
Average daily cost of $19.25 per day. You can have a great time in Nepal for $20 per day, a cheaper backpack bumming experience for $15 per day (or lower), or trekker's paradise on $30 per day. It's your choice.
It certainly felt like longer than 31 days, but yesterday I concluded my month-long visit to India. This trip was far more nature focused than my previous adventures in the country (see archive of blog posts in the India country guide). I went trekking in Ladakh, hiked to a waterfall in Manali, and viewed numerous beautiful hill stations in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Four years ago, I explored the south of India, and all up along the western coast. This trip, however, was focused on the far north, notably the Himalayas mountain range. It was beautiful! From the staggering peaks near Leh, to the hills of Shimla, to the Ganges River in Rishikesh, it was time and money well-spent.
Speaking of money, I spent quite a bit more in this month than I had expected to. Though I still came well under budget, I couldn't help but notice I was being much more liberal with my trip savings. Perhaps I'm just getting older and more careless, or maybe the north of India is more expensive than the south, or maybe *gasp* has India become more expensive in the past four years? Actually, the answer is quite simple: I purchased an internal flight within the country (Delhi to Leh). This jacked up my average daily cost by nearly two dollars per day.
Here is a category by category breakdown of what I spent in India. It does not include my flight into the country, nor the (10 year, WOOHOO USA! USA!) visa I purchased ahead of time. Those costs will be factored in at the end of this journey, in a retrospective post.
Food - $250.84
I'm starting to notice a trend here. While accommodations used to be the costliest part of my travels, food keeps taking the cake (have you seen what I've done here)? I owe this in part to two things: First, I've become a massive foodie in the past few years, and cannot stand to leave any dish untasted. Second, I've been a lot lazier about seeking out cheap food. In tourist towns such as Rishikesh and Manali, it wasn't unusual for me to eat at the backpacker restaurants. They usually cost double of where the locals eat (and often taste half as good).
Transportation - $160.92
This is where the $50 plane ticket really made a dent in my budgeting. If I had opted to take a bus, I'd have likely spent $10 instead. However, after experiencing the terrifying and death defying bus ride from Leh to Manali (where the bus rocks back and forth and you feel like you're about to fall off a mountain for 20 hours), I'm rather glad I flew from Delhi to Leh. I'm never taking long distance buses in that region again! Everything else was pretty cheap. I opted for government buses and shared rickshaws, and took just a single train journey during the month.
Accommodation - $138.55
Hostelworld, Hostelworld, how can I sing thine praises? Thanks to dorm rooms, and the very rare cheap hotel, I pretty much never spent more than $7 for a single night. In fact, many hostels fell in the $3-4 range. Super duper inexpensive, and highly recommended for meeting other travelers.
Miscellaneous - $64.20
Includes laundry, toiletries, ATM fees, haircuts, etc. Nuff said.
Activities - $17.18
Ok, I know this makes me look lame, but believe me: I did waaay more activities than that! It's just things like trekking and hiking were calculated into my accommodation, food, and transport costs. The only things I specifically paid for activity-wise were some tourist sites in Delhi, and entry to the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh.
Average cost of $20.38 per day. Without the flight, I would have easily been under $20, and this was a trip where I spent money pretty liberally! India is easy to travel in under $20 per day, especially if you're steadfast in terms of eating choices and such. Heavily touristed cities such as Manali can get expensive if you aren't careful.
That's a wrap. I'm in the neighboring country of Nepal, so let's see where the next leg of this trip takes me!
Photo Cred: Haythem Refaai
My time in Egypt is finished, and boy did I have a blast! In four weeks' time, I met many wonderful people, saw some spectacular desert and mountain landscapes, and explored the local cuisine. I went snorkeling in the bright blue Red Sea, bummed it in the coastal towns of Nuweiba and Dahab, and went camping in the desert near Faiyum. After spending way too long in Cairo, I had an extraordinarily memorable time in the oasis of Siwa. So all in all, time well spent.
Although I was unable to make time for the popular tourist destinations of Luxor and Aswan (hopefully I will return to Egypt!), I feel like I had an authentic, complete trip. Four weeks is quite a while to spend in one location, yet at the same time, not much time at all, No amount of time is enough to fully experience a culture, though a month tends to fall just shy of one getting bored of a country.
What did these four weeks in Egypt cost? Here is a breakdown by category:
*Note - This doesn't include expenses such as flights in and out of the country (which will be covered at the end of my trip, in a separate retrospective). It also doesn't include the costs of my film photography, which I paid quite a lot to ship and develop overseas. Fingers crossed that the photos turn out ok!
Food - $295.89
By far, the most money I spent in Egypt was on food. After all, how could I not try every single new dish I could get my hands on? Highlights were hamam mahshi (stuffed pigeon) and koshari (a common street food consisting of rice, macaroni, lentils, and numerous other ingredients). Meals tended to cost in the range of $3-6 dollars.
Transportation - $101.13
Thank heavens for Uber in Cairo and Alexandria. Sure, the drivers are crazy, but they're dependably cheap and require no haggling. Buses between cities in Egypt usually cost no more than $5-15, though I didn't take too many of them on this trip.
Accomodation - $74.16
Thanks to my very generous host in Cairo (where I was for nearly two weeks), I paid very little for accomodation. During the rest of my trip, I never paid more than $9 for a hotel room, and saved money by taking overnight buses.
Activities - $62.24
This includes things such as entry fees, snorkeling, and the like. There are so many activities to do in Egypt, and none of them cost too much. Just stay away from tourist traps like Sharm El Sheikh, and you should be fine!
Miscellaneous - $53.29
Random little costs crop up here and there, such as laundry service and bakeesh (little tips for bathroom attendants and the like).
Average cost of $20.23 per day. Because I was lucky enough to stay with a host in Cairo, this trip ended up costing much less than I expected. Egypt is the kind of country you can spend a bit amount more in, or a bit less in. I think a solid budget for one month in Egypt should work out fine at $25 per day.
There you have it. Time and money well spent!
I recently left India, and headed to the Middle East, where I have spent most of the past month. The countries include: Lebanon, Jordan, and (for a couple of days) Israel. The currencies are: Lebanese Lira (also called Lebanese Pound), Jordanian Dinar, and Israeli New Shekel.
The Middle East is definitely the most expensive region I have traveled in so far. However, with some careful budgeting, I was able to have an enjoyable experience for very little. Israel is by far the most expensive of the three; however, I will be staying with friends and family, thus negating most of the accommodation and food costs. Lebanon comes next, because of its pricey accommodation. Jordan is definitely the least costly of the three; however, it has especially expensive entry fees. More on that later.
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of my spending habits, for the eighth month of my travels.
Accommodation - $242.22. Average of $8.07 per day. Lebanon really drove the costs up for this category, because the cheapest dorm I could find was around $16 per night. Jordan's hostels are significantly cheaper.
Food and Drink - $190.12. Average of $6.34 per day, or $2.11 per meal. With the exception of Israel, food was pretty inexpensive, especially in Jordan.
Alcohol - $32.87. Most of this came from Lebanon, especially the New Year's Party I attended.
Transport - $110.07. Lebanon actually had the cheapest public transport out of the three countries. A five hour bus ride in Israel, however, cost around $20.
Miscellaneous - $70.32. Includes things such as toiletries, laundry, ATM fees, souvenirs, etc. By rights, I should have paid another $70 for entry to Petra in Jordan. However, I was given a partially unused ticket by a French traveler, and ended up getting in for free. Sometimes you get lucky.
Total amount spent - $645.60. Average of $21.52 per day. I surprised myself by how little I spent, especially because the Middle East feels more expensive than other regions I have been to. However, my free Petra ticket certainly played a part in this, as well as my careful budgeting and spending.
Costa Rica, Mexico, and Pakistan have been added to the "Nationalities I Have Met" page, bringing the total to 62!
Lucky number seven. This is the part where I feel well-traveled, have little money left, and am exceedingly conscious that my trip is finite. I'm not quite at the end, but I can see an end in the (relatively) close future. Every destination is being accounted for. Each purchase is being scrutinized.
With an exception of two days in Sri Lanka, the past month has been spent entirely in India. Upon flying to Madurai, I gradually made my way up north. Eventually, I hit Mumbai, the clear turning point of my Indian adventure. I was no longer alone; rather I found myself in the company of other travelers. Because foreigners tend to visit the north of India, it is much easier to find backpacker hostels there. Right now, I am in the state of Rajasthan, and to be honest, I've met more travelers in the past week than in the whole rest of my time in India. This is a pleasant change from the long, often lonely days spent in the southern regions of the country, where I was sometimes the only foreigner for miles. Rajasthan has a high density of beautiful sites and friendly local people. In many ways, it is the perfect place to laze away my final days in this country. There is no shortage of things to do, foods to eat, and streets to wander around. Additionally, I finally have a steady stream of Western amenities such as comfortable beds, WiFi, and fellow adventurers to speak with.
I will be in India until the 31st of December, and then plan on flying to the Middle East. My first destination will be Lebanon, a small country where I shall spend ten days, including New Year's. From Lebanon, I will fly to Jordan, where (if budget permits) I hope to see the ancient city of Petra. For those who are unaware, Petra is often considered to be one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the world.
Thankfully, the Indian Rupee stretches very far, especially compared to the US Dollar. My seventh month was the cheapest yet, beating my previous record.
Accommodation - $182.09. Average of $6.07 per day. It's nice, because I am finally able to book accommodation on the internet again. In the south of India, hostels were very rare. However, the state of Rajasthan is littered with bargain rooms.
Food and Drink - $168.85. Average of $5.63 per day, or $1.88 per meal. It is definitely a challenge to stay away from high-priced tourist restaurants. Nevertheless, eating on a budget is pretty easy, just as it is anywhere in India.
Alcohol - $14.46. This continues my trend of drinking very little alcohol in South Asia. Although liquor was very cheap in one city (Daman), it was illegal in the entire state of Gujarat. Besides, I just haven't had much of a desire to drink in India.
Transport - $42.86. Transportation costs are negligible in India. I honestly can't believe that this includes multiple buses and trains, including one 36-hour train ride. But it does.
Miscellaneous - $54.54. Includes things such as toiletries, laundry, ATM fees, souvenirs, etc.
Total amount spent - $462.60. Average of $15.42 per day. This was my cheapest month ever, and I could have done it for cheaper! It constantly amazes me how far Western currencies can get you in India.
Once more, thank you to Simon and Erin, the creators of Trail Wallet. Their app continues to be my #1 budgeting tool. If you feel so inclined, check out their journey at neverendingvoyage.com. Unfortunately, my iPod recently decided to die on me. Therefore, the rest of my trip expenses will be recorded with old-fashioned pen and paper.
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write movies and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.