I’m no moocher, but– oh wait, I totally am. :) But the reality is that I have eight months of travel ahead and limited savings. Now, thanks to the amazing kindness of old and new friends along my first month’s path, I have been able to save loads of loot. Every day in Thailand so far I’ve spent about $30: $12 for housing, $14 for food and water, and $4 for transport and entertainment. On top of this, however, I’ve gotten about $5-$20 of free stuff each day– usually food, entertainment, and transportation. Huh? How??? Here are some tips.
1. Be a guide.
I mopily trudged through the hideous, far port town where my cab driver had kicked me out, screaming: “beach you want is too far! Cost $300 Baht ($10) more!” Suddenly I heard two Scottish brogues musing, “I think we’re in Haad Rin now, and if we just drive over here we’ll get to–” “You’re not in Haad Rin!” I laughed, joining the gentlemen at their unwieldy green map, “You’re 11 kilometers away in the port town of Thong Sala!”
The three of us had a lovely (geographically orienting) chat, and turned out the fellows were going to the same beach as I originally desired, and then were driving across the island right back to near my hotel. Yes! We bopped fantastically all over Ko Phan gan for the next six hours, then I helped them find a great hotel, and introduced them to a fresh clan of buddies.
In exchange, I won $20 worth of transportation (and a hilarious free trip to a bone-dry waterfall), a fully paid-for shrimp curry dinner (I protested but they insisted on treating), and two awesome new buddies. Hip hop hooray! :)
Unlike eight-month voyagers (woot woot!) who have to seriously long-term scrimp and save, short term vacationers have allotted gobs of money for two weeks of pure enjoyment. If you help them make those two weeks a rollicking good time, they will help you stretch your budget.
3. Be a matchmaker.
What helps travellers have a rollicking good time? Love! If you befriend a mix of both genders, then each will deeply appreciate you merging the two. Free food will fly fast and furious as you introduce the English women to the German men :)
4. . Be a therapist.
T’was overheard today: “Everyone traveling is running away from something, or towards something.” Listen: at first they don’t want to talk about it, but then they do. One of my favorite things about this trip so far has been listening to the amazing and often shocking stories of the folks I’ve met. I hope hope hope that I’ve been able to dole out enough heart, support, and advice to merit the way folks have opened up.
5. Be a woman.
In general, American men aren’t very macho/chivalrous, but most Earth is. Fight it all you want, but there is something awfully sweet about getting a little princess treatment with your fellow females, simply cause we are ladies!
Now for a Major Disclaimer: I am a huge moocher, so true, but it is NEVER my intention to be an evil gold-digging “let me take advantage of this person” beast. It is also not my intention to encourage travellers (specifically female types) to put themselves in bad or victimized positions. Rather, I wrote this article to point out the ways that travellers can happily and respectfully enact exchanges. It’s a good thing! It’s a nice thing! It happens! Embrace it! :)