I’m a huge advocator for travelling on a budget. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a luxurious holiday just as much as the next person, but traveling is something much more fulfilling than spending a week in a hotel and lounging around (but travelling has a lot of the latter too). Travelling within a budget – a sometimes very tight budget – allows you to tour for a longer period of time and by staying in cheaper accommodation like guesthouses or hostels, you meet likeminded people with amazing, hilarious and heartfelt stories. Costs are also cut by eating the local street food – once you’ve accepted to possibility of Asia belly, you’ll get to experience the best tasting food you’ll ever have – and often for less than a couple of dollars.
For the first time adventurer, travelling on a shoestring can be intimidating. Starting off in a country like Japan or Thailand (depending on what you want from your holiday) are perfect destinations. It’s where a lot of other travellers go for the first time because the countries are well established yet there’s enough culture to shock the senses.
Japan is a country full of disparities. On the one hand, the deep history and long standing tradition are evident in everyday life. Yet this is contrasted to a youth culture trying to pry itself away from tradition in a post-modern, globalised society. You’ll see harajuku girls dressed in outlandish doll like outfits, bow respectfully to an elderly person. The culture is absolutely fascinating, the history sometimes heartbreaking. But whatever emotion you’re feeling on the day, you’ll always be able to quench your thirst, as literally each corner has a vending machine.
Thailand is a country full of eclectic, cheap and fun experiences; in the north, you’ll find temples, elephants, buddas, forests, waterfalls and bumpy roads to a town called Pai. In the south, beautiful islands are packed with young, tanned travellers enjoying a coconut or an energising cocktail in a colourful sand bucket. A massive party on the full moon occurs each month with DJs lining the white beach alongside fire twirlers, fire skipping ropes and fire hula hoops. During the day, banana boats take you over the clear blue water to almost deserted islands, where (angry) monkeys roam the beaches and waterfalls hide tucked away in the vast green mountains. You can also get your PADI diving license for half the price of what you’d pay in Australia.
Travelling allows you to immerse yourself within a culture you may otherwise have held misconceptions. It broadens your understanding of what others have not and you come to realise how petty some of our qualms really are (#firstworldproblems). Backpacking can be an enriching experience, especially for youths who have yet to decide which path they want to take the ‘rest of their lives’. It’s an opportunity to meet people you’d otherwise never talk to and you learn to appreciate a culture different to the very fortunate, Australian way of life.
Travelling is more than sitting around a pool; it’s a chance to absorb oneself in another place and time. It’s the most satisfying thing I have ever done and for those who have some form of cultural curiosity or just need to get out of Australia, it’s something I strongly urge you to do. Next week … Europe.
About Jess D: I have the travel bug. I suffer from travelust and my parents now think I’ve become an uncontrollable traveljunkie. The thought of getting the next stamp on my passport gives me shivers and I can’t help but Google my next destination, well into the dead of the night. While I’ve checked into travelling rehab (otherwise known as a career), all I can do now I reminisce and join the ranks of travel writers hoping to inspire others to venture overseas.
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