I recently read a post from a very prominent travel blog that featured an outline of how to travel in a certain country for a very low budget – one almost too good to be true. They highlighted some things to do that were free, how to cut down on food and lodging costs and went over the usual budget travel tips to demonstrate that YES you can stay in this country for super cheap.
Unfortunately the article was slightly misleading. Intentionally? I doubt it, but nevertheless the article painted a picture that would not be entirely accurate or recognizable to your average traveller trying to walk in their foot steps. In this case there were two aspects of the article that I took issue with, one of them being quite glaring and the other more topical. These issues highlight the need for everyone to be critical of their sources when it comes to travel advice.
In this specific example, the necessary transportation for this destination was completely ignored. The international airport – and there is only one – is nowhere near the final destination, which means 99% of all the travellers arriving there will need to use the bus system. Granted, the adventurous may try to hitchhike, but the majority of people will use the bus...which will eat of 60% of the article's suggested daily budget. And that is just one way – 60% of another day's budget will be consumed on the way back to the airport. In addition to this oversight, the issue of budget accommodation was glossed over in a way that may give budget travellers the wrong impression when it comes to affordable accommodation and the couchsurfing project.
The author suggested couchsurfing as an affordable way to stay in the country they were exploring, a fact which I wholeheartedly agree with. I am a huge fan and supporter of the couchsurfing project as it really is a great way to stay somewhere affordably. But it isn't free, per se. It has become common custom that those surfing generally cook a meal for their host, or, take them out for dinner or to an event. Not every night, of course, but at least once as a show of gratitude for the host helping them out. Remember, a couchsurfing host is not just providing you with somewhere to crash – they are wonderful sources for the most up-to-date information about their home: what to do, what to see, where not to go, etc. This meal exchange is not written in stone, of course, but it certainly has become common enough practice that it should be budgeted for; to not mention it whilst writing an article on budget travelling shows something of an unfamiliarity with the established custom, and perhaps even couchsurfing itself.
Now, I just spent a day in Iceland and didn't spend a cent. I could write a catchy budget travel headline and drown myself in the website traffic only to disappoint every visitor because such misleading tips aren't sustainable.
My time at the Keflavik airport was spent under the rain and haze of a looming Icelandic sky, eating snacks I bought in Canada the day prior. I caught some shut eye on a bench in the airport and used their free wifi to entertain myself throughout the hours. Boom. Budget travel to the max! Also, not really helpful to your average backpacker.
SO, when you find yourself preparing for your next trip be sure to check out the top travel blogs for tips and advice BUT make sure you review them with a critical eye and take some of the more extreme budgeting tips with a grain of salt.