Frugal Travel Moves That Backfired On Me

by Esther Goh

Sometimes the quest to save a few bucks only serves to bite you in the ass. If there’s one thing that living out of a backpack for six months taught me, it’s the importance of making smart financial decisions, often on the fly. Here are three instances in which scrimping ended up costing us…

Sleeper buses

Hop on board. Go to sleep in one city. Wake up in another. Save on a night’s accommodation in the process. Brilliant, right?

In theory, sure. But while you might save a few dollars by bedding down on a sleeper bus, the odds of actually getting enough shuteye is pretty low. You may well end up eating into valuable time later catching up on sleep.

Paying for breakfast

It seems like a no-brainer: shell out a dollar/euro/pound or two extra for accommodation that includes breakfast. But in my experience, it’s always a bit of a crap shoot. We’ve enjoyed amazing spreads in Siem Reap, Hanoi, Munich, and Bologna, for example, but we’ve also had too many “we got up early for this?!” moments.

Ultimately, there’s no way to tell for sure whether it’s worth it, short of trial and error. You can check out the reviews online for any mention of breakfast and the quality/quantity, but take them with a grain of salt, since there’s no pleasing some people. You’ll never know until you rock up that first morning, but truthfully, I’ve been let down far more than I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

Cheaping out on A/C
Oh boy. Going for the budget room with a ceiling fan, rather than the pricier one with A/C, sounded like a good idea at the time.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only pay for this in sweat and a restless slumber. Or, if you’re us, it might land you in a Bangkok hospital — after your husband has a close encounter with a blade (or two) of the ceiling fan. Talk about the mother of all expensive mistakes! Luckily, the medical bill came in at under $300. In the end, we didn’t even make an insurance claim, because it wouldn’t have been worth it.

Esther Goh spent six months backpacking around the world in 2013 and blogged about it

Photo: Sleeper bus in Vietnam/Wikimedia Commons

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