This is the forth 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.
This month has seen me travel more than 6,000 miles in three countries: India, Vietnam, and Nepal. As a result, the expenses this month are the highest since I paid for my round-trip ticket to India when I started my journey back in March.
However, I've been extremely fortunate to have had free lodging, food, and transportation for my last two weeks in India, free transportation, food, and some free lodging during the two weeks in Vietnam, and now free lodging and some free transportation in Nepal.
At the beginning of the month, I spent two weeks in Delhi staying with my adopted relatives. They provided free lodging at their home along with free home cooked meals and free transportation. I took the opportunity to relax after spending the previous two and a half months living and traveling on a budget.
In Vietnam, I stayed at a hotel in the backpackers district (District 1) of Ho Chi Minh City. It was $16/night for a private room, or $8/night for a dorm-style room. I like my privacy and the security of being able to leave my backpack in the room, so even though it was more expensive I opted for the private room.
The second week in Vietnam, I went with my friend David and his wife Mai to visit relatives and family in Hue, a city in central Vietnam. David and Mai paid for the hotel room where David and myself slept (Mai stayed with her family).
In Nepal, my former boss and good friend offered to let me stay at his parents house in the northern part of Kathmandu. His parents are visiting the States at the moment, so I literally have the entire house to myself.
As I mentioned previously, I had no food expenses during my last two weeks in India. When I arrived in Vietnam, I tagged along with David, Mai, and David's brother and family to various touristy places during the day and they paid for the meals and water (thank you again!). The hotel room in Vietnam included free breakfast, so I took advantage of that.
I spent two days working from a cafe in Ho Chi Minh City (Highland Coffee) where I easily racked up an $18 bill over the course of twelve hours (the coffee drinks were so good!). A few times I ate dinner at other random restaurants around the hotel.
When David, Mai, and myself went to Hue for a week to visit family, we ate home cooked meals every single day.
I've only been in Nepal a few days now and Sanjay has provided breakfast and dinner cooked at home. When I was dropped off to explore the touristy Thamel region of Kathmandu for a few hours, I had lunch at a cafe that ended up being more expensive than I expected ($10!).
I definitely could have spent less money on food this month, but since I paid for so few meals I didn't try very hard to keep the food costs down.
Clearly the largest expense this month has been transportation. Traveling by plane is definitely the most expensive way to travel, but I didn't have much of a choice. I would've loved to do everything over land, but that would've required lots of money for Visa's and lots of time, neither of which I had.
I had no travel expenses in India this month besides the plane ticket to Vietnam. In Vietnam, I paid for a taxi to the hotel which cost me $7.50. After that, David and Mai paid for all the travel expenses, including several tour buses, taxis, and even the round-trip plane ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue and then back! (Thanks again David and Mai!) I think I might have paid for one or two of the taxi rides with them, but otherwise they took care of everything.
The only other taxi I paid for was the one from the hotel to the airport to catch my plane to Nepal.
It was 3,040 miles from Delhi, India to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with a connecting flight through Kula Lumpur, Malaysia. While in Vietnam, we took a plane to Hue and then back to Ho Chi Minh City, which was about 900 miles round trip. Then from Vietnam, I took a plane to Nepal with a 7-hour layover in Guangzhou, China, about 2,700 miles.
Total Distance Traveled: 6,640 miles
This is the longest list of other expenses since I began doing these reports, not to mention the most expensive -- almost my entire $250 monthly budget!
In India, I visited several museums and other attractions, including Red Fort, Qutub Complex, and the Akshardham temple. I also paid for some of the places we visited in Vietnam (the Cu Chi Tunnels is all I can remember paying for).
I bought two 4GB SD cards for my camera in India. I ran out of room while taking pictures at one of the weddings (luckily it was towards the very end of the wedding), so I wanted to make sure I had backup storage for my trip to Nepal.
In Vietnam, I bought some dandruff shampoo (Head and Shoulders). I think my scalp isn't used to having hair on it! (I've kept it cut for the past 10 years, but decided not to cut my hair or shave during my entire six month trip.)
The Visa expenses should be self-explanatory.
I bought a Nepal SIM card so that I'd have a phone in case of emergencies. To get the SIM card, I discovered that I needed a copy of my passport and a passport photo. I already had both, but they were in my backpack which I had left at home. So I paid $4, made a copy of my passport, and waited about an hour to have the photos made (I've now got an extra seven passport photos, but they're always good to have).
The expenses this month are a lot higher than I would've liked, but they were mostly unavoidable expenses. If I had paid for lodging, food, and transportation for the entire month, I would've easily spent several hundred dollars more.
For all the places I visited and all the things I got to see and do, this month was a bargain!
The Visa expenses for Vietnam and Nepal totaled almost $150, so you can see how quickly a tight budget can be eaten up by those!
Unfortunately, I've now gone over the six-month $3,000 budget that I set for myself. This month has been extremely tight for money. Last month when I anticipated going over budget, I began spending more time seeking freelance work to continue funding my travels, so things are a bit better now.
I have free lodging in Nepal for the next two months, but there are several multi-day treks that I'm interested in doing. Those will incur lodging, food, and some transportation expenses. Also, when I return to India for two weeks in September, I have a multi-train itinerary planned.
Other than what's planned, I will continue living and traveling as frugally as possible. I have a very comfortable place with free WiFi here in Kathmandu and I plan to spend lots of time writing, relaxing, exercising, meditating, and otherwise keeping my expenses low.
Funds came dangerously low this month and without the kindness and generosity of people like Karmal & Mudita in India, David & Mai in Vietnam, and Sanjay in Nepal, I wouldn't even have been able to make this month happen. Good karma and good fortune have a funny way of appearing when you need them most!