One plus Two = Free

by Ant Stone on August 30, 2008

in Costs

No, I’m not telling you. Get lost! You don’t ask an Englishman questions like that. Look, it’s my business. Go away, or I’ll tell my Queen. No. Uh uh. No way, José. Boo-hoo-hoo, “babyyyy don’t cry baby don’t crryyyy”. Why should I? I don’t ask you stuff like that. Nope. Ne parlez pas anglais amigo. What’s that over there? Haha, got you. Oh change the subject mate. No. No. No. Look, I’m not telling you, just build a bridge and get over it. I caaan’t hear you. Do de do. You’re boring me now. Why do you want to know? Nosey Parker. OW-A! Stop it, what are you doing? Nononono, oww! Not the Chinese burn, owwww get off, you’re an animal! Hahaha, not the, hahaha, not the, hahahaaa, not the feet! Not the feet! Hahaha, ok, OK! I’ll tell you, hahaha! Stop it! Stop it! I’ll tell you! STOP! Please, please just STOP!

It’s the question everyone asks, and hardly anyone answers. How much does it cost to go travelling? I’m asked it all the time, by every creed and every caste, by email and over food. It can be an awkward question – especially when fired at you by an uninhibited young Indian guy who you know has little chance of following in your privileged footsteps. It’s not an easy question to answer – it’s like asking a fat man how man calories he ate last week. There are variables – those little cash deals, those forgotten dollar exchanges etc. But all in all, between the 11th of June 2007 and the 7th of July 2008 I spent the grand total of £7200 (roughly US$13,100 or 188,100,000 Turkmenistan Manat or half a kilo of gold). ‘Ok Ant, but what about the grand total, when you add in flights, insurance, visas, bribes etc?’ That is the grand total, give or take £50 for my crap arithmetic’s and a few botched bank robberies. It includes £250 for travel insurance, £475 in flights, £325 for the Trans-Mongolian railway ticket, £100 in bank charges and a lot of practise on foreign ATM’s. I left England on June 30th 2007, which is 374 days before the July 7th 2008 cut off date of my credit card records. This shows I travelled Asia for just over £19.20 a day.

But wait a minute, I’m tapping all this on a brand new laptop (£914) through the frames of brand new glasses (£107) which are things backpackers shouldn’t really have to budget for, so we’ll swipe that off the bottom line bringing the total to something more like, tap tap tap, £6200 which, tap tap tap, brings the daily average to a humble £16.60. And before my dear mother gets her spanking hand on the keys; this includes the Bank of Mum and Dad Christmas bonus. And before my dear girlfriend bangs on about me dragging her to four hundred of Sri Lanka’s ATM’s so I could avoid the service charges (Reb doesn’t get charged for withdrawals), it includes that too. It also includes a new passport (£130).

Is it what you thought? Consider this; £16.60 a day has allowed me to ride the Trans-Mongolian railway, to see the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors, Potala Palace, Mount Everest and the Taj Mahal amongst countless other awesome Asian sites. It’s paid for me to climb an active volcano, to rent a Royal Enfield for a whole month, its bought train tickets to cross mind-blowing India and its found me rhinos, elephants and orangutans. Its paid for hospitals, found me rural villages, breathtaking beaches and drunken cities. It found me a girlfriend (and she’s worth more than £16.60 a day). Its replaced clothes, got me sunburned, got me high (on a mountain, mother), got me bladdered, and blew me away. It’s given me scars and scares, and a thousand “I nearly died” moments. I’ve thrown up, grown up, sewn up and phoned up. Eagle-eyed readers will remember I lost £130 of it during an Indonesia flight, and loyal fans will recount the days I spent helping little-ickle, baby turtles get a flipper up in the world. I’ve spent incredible amounts in Singapore bars, tiptoed through Tibet and fixed just about every nut and bolt on the Enfield to get her up and over the Western Ghats.

To give you an idea of the type of traveller I am, I’m pretty tight. Consider that there isn’t a raucous nightlife in any of these places I’ve been in (except a few rare exceptions that I went looking for), so alcohol intake is low. I smoke, but not much, maybe six a day. Ok, ten. I do splurge now and then for things I don’t want to miss i.e. overland through Tibet, the Keralan backwaters, two nights in a Colombo 5-star hotel (by default), the orangutans. ‘My name’s Ant, and I’m an internet addict.’ I buy very few souvenirs and post very few parcels. I get hooked on places and stay a while (3 weeks in Pondicherry, 4 weeks in Hikkaduwa, 3 weeks in Kathmandu, 2 weeks in the Gili’s, 2 weeks in Ubud to name a few). I’m not materialistic, although I do carry a bag of expensive black electronics. I’m not a simplistic packer, although I only have one pair of socks. I’m just a curious backpacker who enjoys local food, and interesting people. So for less than £500 a month, I’ve travelled across Asia whereas a year ago, £500 a month paid the rent and bills on a small bungalow in the East of England. I know many people avoid travelling, because they fear the unknown costs. They answer it with presumptions, and spend the rest of their lives discovering the answer. But there it is, £16.60 a day, give or take a couple of korma’s.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Stone August 30, 2008 at 5:45 am

$13,000… You what!!! I told you before, get a job on a cruise ship, and get paid to travel the world. Then after 6 – 18 months you can use the money saved to buy a round the world air ticket (or in my case, as engagement ring…lol).

Naranja (Jose) August 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm

You are completely right, Ant. If anybody knows a better way to spend money than travelling, please tell me and I will do it tomorrow.
Maybe the budget will change a litte when you start in the Pacific world, it’s a ruin!
Take care,

ellen August 31, 2008 at 1:37 am

editor’s correction: you didn’t get hooked on kathmandu! you got stuck there waiting for a visa… x

[F]oxymoron September 2, 2008 at 9:23 pm

I haven’t even left and I get that question ALL the time! My response: Until I go broke. Basically a non-answer, but explaining the specifics gets boring. Maybe I should send them here instead.

Ant September 3, 2008 at 5:45 am

‘Until I go broke’ doesn’t answer the ‘how much does it cost…’ question though Fox…!

John September 5, 2008 at 7:59 am

You still owe me 100 rubies from the Rotie restaurant you tight bastard…;p

Jamo September 12, 2008 at 12:12 am

It’s nice to see your still tight as ever, will you ever buy me a beer?

Jenny October 8, 2008 at 2:49 am

How bout buying me a beer instead? :p

Dan October 16, 2008 at 10:59 am

Boy am I stuck back in that cycle of most of my income going into boring stuff, I’m sick of it already, away with the debt again and next time I’ll work while I travel.

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