This is the second in a series of reports detailing my travel expenses during a six-month sustainable travel trip through India, Vietnam, and Nepal, as outlined in The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3,000.
While its only been a few days since I released the March 2010 report, I want to get on schedule and release a new report at the start of each month.
During the month of April I spent more time in hotels and ate at restaurants more frequently than cooking for myself. The increased lodging and food expenses reflect this trend.
The rickshaws are fairly expensive when compared with taking the bus: A short 3/4 mile ride from the office into town costs about $0.45, whereas taking the local bus costs $0.03, if it's not free all together (sometimes the ticket attendant doesn't bother charging for such a short distance).
To save money, I often opt to walk between the office and town, since waiting for the bus could take almost as long as the walk itself (about 20 minutes).
As I mentioned in the previous report, staying at a hotel in town allows me to use the mobile broadband data card that I have with me, giving me much faster access to the Internet than I have at the farm. I spent about half my nights this month at one of two hotels in town.
The first hotel, The Mavanthor, has the cheapest single-bed room: $4/night. However, that room is often not available and they offer me a double-bed for $8/night. After discovering the second hotel, I never accept the double-bed.
The second hotel, Sri Laxmi Lodge, is a few hundred meters down the road and offers a single bed for $8/night. However, the room is much cleaner, includes a TV (not that I use it), and A/C.
Whenever the single-bed isn't available at The Mavanthor, I walk to the Sri Laxmi Lodge and book a room there instead. The owner at this hotel has also been nice enough to give me a double bed room for the same price when the single isn't available.
As the expense report above shows, I spent considerably more at restaurants this month than I did the previous month. However, it still falls within my rough target budget of $40/mo for food.
While the average price for a meal at restaurants runs about $0.50, I discovered that some things can be quite expensive. For example, a small bag of cashews (about twenty nuts) costs around $0.75, more than an entire meal!
Since I'm on a vegan diet (after a few weeks of being vegetarian, I switched back to being vegan when the dairy started affecting my system), getting a wide array of foods is essential to good nutrition. Besides, nuts are an incredibly versatile food and they're great for taking on trips.
Ah, the "other" expenses. I try to keep these to a minimum, but you can never plan for everything. I left my laptop plugged in overnight at one of the hotels and awoke to a power outage. When I arrived at the office and plugged my laptop in, I discovered the power adapter was broken.
The parents of one of my friends was coming to Ujire from Bangalore, so they picked up a replacement for me. It set me back $100, but I was just happy to get my laptop working again and rule out any problems with the laptop itself.
This incident made me realize two things: 1. Don't leave anything plugged in overnight and 2. Getting a replacement power adapter is a lot more difficult when you're in a remote town. I'd love to carry a backup power adapter with me, but since I'm traveling with a single backpack that just won't work. Every bit of weight counts.
This month I spent almost my entire $250 budget. With such a small budget, even the tiniest, most unpredictable things can have a huge dent in the budget. If it wasn't for the faulty power adapter, I would have only spent $150, which is even less than last month.
During the next month, I will be doing a lot more traveling and staying in hotels. In fact, I will probably be staying in a hotel every single night during the month of May, often in unfamiliar places where I have to hunt for the best prices.
I'm also going to be booking the flights and getting the visa's for Vietnam and Nepal. That will really cut into my overall budget, but I'm determined to make it work!