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.
Frugal Travel Reports
March 2010 (includes Pre-Travel expenses)
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 entire month was spent living in Ujire, making new friends, working on my laptop at the office in town, and exploring nearby places like Jamalabad and Moodabidri.
While I wasn't traveling between the town and the farm as frequently this month, I did take more rickshaws and a few longer bus rides to Moodabidri and Somankad.
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!
Heya Raam Dev
I’m curious to see if you have a contingency plan… what type of work will you be looking for when the funds are almost gone – and where do you want this to happen?
I don’t really have much of a contingency plan. I have started putting feelers out there for freelance work (WordPress, a little web design, back-end PHP programming) and I’ve got a few small jobs lined up. However, the direction I want to go is writing. Once I finish the ebook I’m working on, I will start guest posting (for free) in hopes of building awareness around my name and brand before looking for paid writing gigs. Ali Hale has a Staff Blogging Course that I hear is really good. I might look into that.
Sounds interesting! I used to want to do that.
I sure waste a lot of money compared to you 🙂
Haha. 🙂 Well, where are you living? If you’re not in an inexpensive country like me, it’s hard to compare.
I do wonder how all this inexpensive living is going to affect my perception of costs when I return to the US in September!
I’m impressed! My budget is bigger and I still always go over it. And I thought I was being frugal 😉
Thanks Anthony! It takes practice! Lots and lots of practice! Oh, and sacrifice. Can’t forget that! 🙂
Interesting report. Bad luck with the adapter though. Hopefully the places you travel to this month have cheaper hotels/youth hostels/couch surfers or even other travelers looking to share accommodation. All the best! looking forward to the Gokarna pics. Have fun 🙂
p.s. oh i think u’re definitely going to be in for a shock when you go back to the US and start converting costs in terms of rupees!!
Hey Priya! Thank you for the comment and for stopping by! 🙂
I’m hoping the places I go this month are cheap too! I just bought my plane tickets for Vietnam and Nepal and my budget is really hurting! I’m headed to Gokarna tomorrow, but I don’t know when I will have fast WiFI, so it may be a little while before I get pictures uploaded. But I promise they’ll be there!
I think the price-shock when I go back to the USA will force me to want to get out and back to a cheaper country! We’ll see how it goes. 🙂
love this blog. I’m pondering an india trip as well. not quite as frugal as you but id love to hear if you would do things differently now years later?
one of my main questions is about a laptop.
do i need one? part of me feels i should at least take my macbook so i can research areas etc. the other parts feels its maybe exactly what i should leave behind. thoughts?
thank you very much for writing these!
I wouldn’t do much of anything differently, even years later. Regarding the laptop: I work online, so bringing a laptop was a no-brainer for me. I also write a lot on my computer, so that was another reason to bring one. If you don’t work online and don’t think you’ll be using the laptop for anything other than researching places, then you might consider taking an iPad or even an iPhone (or other smartphone with WiFi access) and using that instead. Or, you could just find a local computer cafe (of which there are plenty, everywhere!) and get online when you need to research places. However, I personally found it helpful to have a laptop (and a smartphone) and be able to use those as my digital organizers, keeping copies of directions and even maps on my devices so that if I needed to look at them quickly, I could. But again, if you’re comfortable with paper (I prefer to be paperless), then visiting a local internet cafe and printing out what you need might be easier for you.
One thing I will mention, a lesson I learned the hard way, is to never leave any of your electronics (especially laptops) plugged in overnight in India. I did that in a hotel one time and when the power went out in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping, and came back on, it fried my laptop power adapter (luckily not the laptop!) and I had to find a replacement (which wasn’t easy in the tiny village I was staying in at the time). Anyway, just something to keep in mind. 🙂
I hope this helps!
Thank you for your reply.
Did you ever worry about leaving your laptop in a hotel room? They dont seem that secure.
I generally tried to stay in hotels that seemed secure, i.e., where I felt comfortable. In the 6 months I was in India, I never had anything stolen from my hotel room and I left my camera and my laptop in the room many times (I generally tired to hide it a little, put it under my towel in the closet, etc.). If I was ever unsure, I just carried it with my in my backpack. That’s another reason to travel light and get a small/light laptop! If you do end up carrying it with you, you don’t want it to be a brick.