Now I’m certainly not a handbag and heels kind of girl, in fact I’m not even a hairdryer or hairbrush kind of girl!
So, much to my boyfriend’s delight, it seems I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to the luxuries and comforts many ladies like.
This definitely helps when you’re a budget traveller.
Skipping about the world with only a backpack, a tent and few savings to your name doesn’t really allow for many creature comforts!
Yet, perhaps bizarrely to many, I actually relish the freedom and feeling of self-reliance this way of travelling brings.
To me, having almost nothing and yet being able to survive with a smile anywhere in the world somehow brings me the greatest feel of liberation.
It makes things seem more real somehow, more earthy, present and raw.
Without wanting to sound too cliched, it makes me feel like I’m alive!
This is probably the number one reason why I love being a budget traveller. And it’s a feeling that’s addictive.
Well that and the fact that I don’t really like working much!!
That said however, even the most independent, resilient, minimalist-loving element in me still sometimes craves a few of the luxuries from home.
In homage to them, here are 7 luxuries I miss most as a budget traveller.
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#1 Baths & Power Showers
Coming in at number 1 on the list has to be baths!
That feeling of slowly and safely sinking into a clean tub of hot, relaxing, bubble-filled water is enough to lull me to sleep almost instantly.
It’s one of the best simple pleasures in life as far as I’m concerned and sadly, due to my lifestyle, it’s not one I get to enjoy nearly as much as I like. Funnily enough, there aren’t many hostels, national parks or campsites with baths!
Hopping into the tub is on of the first things I do whenever I get home from a trip and it’s also one of the first things I do if I’m lucky enough to be staying with friends or couchsurf hosts that have the facilities and the hospitality.
As such, it’s probably the number 1 luxury I miss most as a budget traveller. That’s said, it makes the pleasure all the more rewarding when I do get to enjoy it.
Closely linked to baths is my love of power showers, which certainly aren’t to my ethical and ecological tastes, but are to my body’s.
I didn’t feel I could write down showers and baths as separate categories, so I’m lumping them together here!
When I sat down this morning to write this post, I actually yelled out to the boy what luxury he missed most about a budget life on the road and the answer came back immediately
“Good showers and baths.”
Looks like it’s a mutual consensus!
#2 Health Foods & Blenders
I’m also pretty sure this second luxury I miss most as a budget traveller would be pretty high on the boy’s list too, obsessed as he is with his old vitamix!
It’s health foods and good blenders coming in at number 2!
This is certainly a big luxury of the modern, consumer world, even if it is a healthy one.
I’ve written in my post tips for vegetarian travellers in Central America about how budget travel there actually made me realise that my desire for health foods is no less of an attachment and craving for products and goods than more material possessions, but never the less I still miss them like hell when I’m away!
This is especially true because I’m a vegan and so getting access to alternative sources of non-animal protein, normally from around the world via health food stores, are pretty important to my wellbeing.
That said, they are still a luxury.
It’s my choice to follow the diet I do and therefore it’s my choice to crave smoothies full of chia seeds, maca, cocoa, hemp and spiralina the way I do!
Sadly blenders are not really transportable – although we will be taking a small handheld one on our budget 4wd roadtrip round Australia (the joys of car travel as opposed to backpacking!)
However, I usually just take a small amount of the health foods I can when I set off on a trip – you can read which ones I do take in my post top 10 budget travel items for the health conscious.
I then just try and stock up a little in bigger cities or tourist areas where I can. You can never find tahini though!
Living life out a bag as a budget traveller does have certain drawbacks (pardon the sort of pun!), not least the fact that you always have to rummage around to find anything you’re looking for.
Sometimes there might be a rail or a hook or a bit of string to tie up where you’re staying, and you can use this to hang some stuff out of your bag, but generally it’s not the case.
No matter how small the pack, how little you have or how many pockets, things always get lost at the bottom, inside shoes or underneath books.
Coming in at number 3 of the luxuries I miss most as a budget traveller therefore is drawers!
Oh these simple wooden beauties, that easily slide out into your hand and allow you to wonderfully and beautifully arrange your stuff in a simple and easy to find manner.
Drawers can be used for anything from clothes to valuables, shoes to toiletries and with them you can see everything you’ve got, everything that’s clean and everything you’ve lost.
Oh to have a set of drawers in my tent!
#4 Fresh Smelling Sheets and Decent Beds
Sticking with the furniture theme, fresh smelling sheets and decent beds are yet another dual luxury I do miss as a budget traveller.
Life in a tent or a 4wd is wild, fun, easy and allows you access to so many beautiful parts of the world you wouldn’t otherwise get to see. It isn’t however, renowned for its comfort.
Sure you get used to it – I lived out a tent for 6 months in South Africa – and if you’ve got a great one like my Gelert Tent, you do get very attached to it.
Nevertheless, there is nothing like sleeping in a lovely bed with freshly laundered sheets.
Perhaps it’s a childhood thing – but every Sunday without fail, my mum would make sure we had clean, fresh sheets on your bed, and never did I sleep as soundly as under those English-garden smelling layers.
Sadly being a budget traveller however, I’m more usually tucked up in some rather crusty sleeping bag I can’t afford to launder atop an airbed with a hole that deflates quicker than I can get to sleep.
Oh the luxuries of a decent bed!
#5 My Full Book Collection
I know everyone says get a kindle, but I don’t want to alright?!
I like paper books, I like the feel of them in my hand, I like the way I can turn a page at a pace I set and I like the way they don’t slyly burn the bejesus out of my retina!
Also, I’m an English lit graduate, so get over it, I like books made of paper!
I also like books made of paper, because I can ditch, swap or leave them when I’m done. And I don’t have to worry about them getting stolen, or robbed or broken or damaged. I can just buy another copy. Or wait until one falls into my lap.
Travelling with paper books however, is heavy, I will give the kindle people that.
This means I’m basically limited to about 3.
This also means I inevitably miss the sensation of having a whole world of stories at my fingertips, whole shelves of books to run my fingers over the spine of, to see what takes my fancy.
I have 3 sorts of things stored in parents house in the UK – one is warm clothing, one is photos (from before the digital age) and the other is my book collection.
Shelves and shelves of books.
They are rare material treats I allow myself to hang onto and contained within each cover is not only the story of the book itself, but also the story of how the book came to me, how I stumbled upon it, how it was recommended, where it was swapped or found or given.
As a budget traveller, I strongly miss having the luxury of choice and comfort when it comes to reading material and on rainy Sundays I often yearn for my book collection at home.
#6 Personal Space
Before meeting the boy, I travelled solo, totally by myself, for many years and I strongly believe that this does change you.
I’ve always been a fairly confident and independent lady, but spending large amounts of time by yourself, as you necessarily do as a solo traveller, gets you in touch, enjoying and used to your company in a way few other experiences allow.
There are many positives I firmly believe I have gained from this way of travelling, but there is one negative I’ve picked up too.
That is I now crave personal space like no tomorrow.
Quite simply, I’ve got used to spending time alone and now I crave and actively seek it out.
It’s the time I need to sort my head, time I need to ready myself for the day and time I need, to relax, rejuvenate and restock at the end of it.
Luckily the boy carries similar introvert needs, so quite understands my position.
Sadly however, it’s not always one I can achieve in my budget traveller lifestyle.
Compromising space saves you money. There’s no doubt about that, so sharing rooms, dorms, beds, activities, taxis or any number of other things does cut your costs.
It’s a weigh-up between your budget and your needs and often, I’ve found, personal space can quickly become a luxury.
The best solution I’ve discovered is to travel with a tent. This still allows me to sleep cheaply, but also gives me a place to go to where I can shut the door. Even if it’s only made of nylon!
As I get older, dorms really just don’t work for me, especially travelling as part of a couple nowadays. Nevertheless, cheap cramped conditions wherever you’re living, staying or sleeping still make personal space a bit of a luxury.
Nevertheless, cheap cramped conditions wherever you’re living, staying or sleeping still make personal space a bit of a luxury.
#7 Not Thinking about Money
The last luxury I miss most as a budget traveller is a luxury lamented by budgeters everywhere.
It’s the luxury of not having to worry about money.
Having a tight budget liberates you in many ways from fears, old habits, material possessions and predictable choices. This can be the catalyst you need to say yes to more adventure and not to always take the safest, easiest, quickest route.
Yet tight budgets can also restrict you, there is no point in denying it.
Inevitably, due to financial constraints, you often have to prioritise when you’re travelling between activities, places and comforts; when times get really tough, you may even have to prioritise between meals!
In 2011, I flew to Latin America with £4000 in my bank account and ended up being out there for over 2 years.
Yes, I worked and volunteered where I could to support myself, but I also had to watch my pennies carefully, very carefully.
This meant there were things that I missed out on. I didn’t get to paraglide in San Gil, Colombia, I didn’t get to sail the San Blas Islands, Panama, I didn’t go to Belize.
Interestingly however, I don’t mind that I missed these activities, I don’t even think about them, because I had so much fun doing other cheaper stuff, like working on a farm in Nicaragua, hitchhiking in Mexico, or shopping in Ecuadorian markets.
It isn’t, therefore, the luxury of not being able to do the more expensive activities that I miss most as a budget traveller, it’s actually more the thought process surrounding them.
By this, I mean that it’s more the thinking connected with having to make decisions over what to spend your money on that makes the difference. Make sense?
When you’re not on a tight travel budget you can say yes to almost anything, it doesn’t matter.
When you are a budget traveller however, you have to think carefully about almost everything you spend money on.
This is time-consuming and can be stressful, draining, depressing.
It means that one of the greatest luxuries I miss as a budget traveller is not having to think about money, having to do the sums, balance the books, prioritise or make selective decisions.
It’s the luxury of not worrying about this thought process at all.
To have the luxury of not having to think about money seems blissful!
Yet of course, to not have to worry about money is to not be a budget traveller – you are a budget traveller because you have a limited budget and therefore you have to think about money!
And to not be on a budget, to not be a budget traveller is to not enjoy all the delights and drama, freedom and fun, liberation and laughter this adventure can bring.
Give me the lessons of budget travel any day and I’ll happily forego the luxuries!
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Are you a budget traveller?
Do you also miss the luxuries I’ve written about here?
What else do you miss most when you’re living the budget travel lifestyle?