There are plenty of people who travel without money, so they claim.
It was only when I met an actual person doing this, that I could form a very strong opinion on this matter:
it’s total bullshit.
I've met a French guy in a Mongolian train station who was eager to tell me all about himself.
He took out a folder with photo’s of the people he met on the road, centred with his own face.
He was the most arrogant prick I have ever met and his story made it even worse.
“I travel without money”, he said, while trying to remove a stain on his North Face jacket.
In other words, he was taking advantage of people by not travelling low budget, but trying to get everything for free.
He did not look poor, he sure as hell did not act like it and our encounter was a total waste of my precious staring-around-time.
He tried to impress me with his "amazing" stories by explaining me how he forced his adventures in the direction that he wanted. For example: asking a TV channel to film him and knocking on doors of houses begging people to take him in.
His budget was bigger than mine and his travel gear was way more professional; so he basically was violating the values of giving and taking, pushing out freebies out of people that will never have as much money as we have on our bank accounts.
The thing disturbing me the most about people claiming that they travel without money is that it’s simply not true. They are travelling with someone else’s money. They are squeezing acts of kindness out of people who don’t even dare to say no. People bought him stuff, because he asked for it.
He was pushing the laws of karma, redefining 'travel' as a lazy way of living to become famous.
We are all a bunch of lost souls hoping for a dash of magic to save our future.
He handed me his business card and spilled some ego on my hands doing it. He had made banners of himself to stick on his brand new backpack and was carrying the newest travel gear on the market.
Who paid for all that?
He wrapped himself in as a very famous blogger (which he isn't) and squeezed out freebies from hotels with the empty promise to make good advertisement for them.
So, if you secretly do have a budget, why are you travelling "without money" then?
As in: you have money, but you don't want to spend it?
You want to try to get as far as possible by taking advantage of hard working people?
I can understand a low budget, but begging someone to take you in for free, asking them food or pay for his train… is just outrageous!
He was even proud to tell me that he gained weight…
For me, this is not the way. I already feel very uncomfortable if someone gives me something for free, especially in countries where locals earn way less money than we do.
I don't want to live on someone else's neck, because I do have money and I believe in two-way-traffic.
If someone insists on buying me dinner, paying my entrance,.. I'll make sure the balance is even.
I'll clean your whole kitchen, redecorate your living room, do a little dance,... whatever.
Don’t ask for sponsors, don’t make someone pay for your fun.
If you don’t have money: WORK goddammit!
How do I survive?
I have saved up 6000 Euro in a short matter of time by downshifting my decadent life of partying, restaurant visits and sporadic city trips.
I made the calculation, that, if I spend 12 Euro or less per day, that I could survive for 14 months without any income.
Wishful thinking, of course.
Now, almost 5 months later, my financial status looks not as optimistic as I had predicted, but there are ways to fix that.
For the moment I have spent 2.369,86 Euro in five countries (Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia and China).
This includes transportation, accommodation, visa’s, food, drinks, entrance fees and all other expenses one does whilst travelling (like getting scammed or buying a new bike lock because I lost the keys of my host in China; you know, the usual).
Completing this to 2.400 Euro, I have spent 600 euro per month, which -if I continue spending 20 Euro per day- can help me survive for another 10 months without income.
Also, I've gone a bit wild in Beijing... I've stayed one month in the big city, living the decadent life and have spent more than my monthly budget in two weeks. Oops.
As I said, there are ways to keep your budget in balance by doing small projects in between.
For example: in Russia I stayed on a Siberian farm via workaway, spending not more than 50 Euro in a whole month.
The countries I have travelled so far are not exactly the most cheap ones, so I am convinced that south-Asia will allow me to economize even more than I have before.
My goal is to get to 12 Euro or less per day.
There are all kinds of jobs to be found around the globe. So for now I just have to get to Australia before my money runs out, get a Working Holiday Visa and economize until the time is ripe to pursue my travels again.
For more information about low budget vegan food and some cheap tricks to get around, please have a look at the menu's 'Vegan around the world' and 'Kind of Boring'.