7 Luxuries I Miss Most as a Budget Traveller

By on Published: November 19, 2015 | Last Updated: October 27, 2021 in Budget Travel Ideas, Travel Stories with 36 Comments

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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

Ethiopia, Bahar Dar, Blue Nile Falls and Me

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!

 

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#2 Health Foods & Blenders

smoothies

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!

 

#3 Drawers

Sudan, Meroe, Me on Dune

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

Israel, Tel Aviv, Abraham Hostel Me in Mirror

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

Cape Town, Atlantic Point Backpackers, Me in Garden

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

Mozambique, Vilanculos, Me & Infinity Pool

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

Thrills

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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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 36 Brilliant Comments

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  1. omg yes, baths! Grew up with multiple bath tubs in the house and never thought about it, now there are days when I would kill for one. I am still almost a year from making the jump to full time traveler/blogger/not having a stable job-er and having to be that careful about money is a serious worry for me.

    • Steph says:

      It’s a worry for us all Prianka, but we make the jump, take a leap of faith and make do without the baths in exchange for a lifetime of memories, right?

  2. Moni says:

    Hey, Steph! I just found your blog, you’ve made a really nice place here 🙂 And this article hooked me! It sounds so familiar to me – every word of it! The books, the sheets, the baths…oh, how I miss them every single day while traveling! Great list!

    Greetings from Bulgaria,
    Moni

  3. Jessica says:

    Great post. Haven’t started properly traveling at the moment so some of these are pretty daunting! Haha. Like clean sheets. ? What am I getting myself in for?
    Jessie

  4. Katechka says:

    Hear you, sis! I love that part about tent, beds and drawers. I moved abroad 2 years ago and also had to leave my in a foil in the basement at home. Books certainly do not deserve such treatment, but there is no shelves to display them on.

  5. Great post! I’m with you on missing baths!

  6. Claire says:

    Omg yes baths are lovely! Don’t get me wrong I’m not a regularly bather (eww that sounds wrong lol) but when I’m in the mood for one it’s the best thing ever! Moved to a house share with no baths and it was horrible. I ended up moving out after 9 months lol but awesome list, totally agree with you!

    • Steph says:

      I’m not a regular bather either Claire (!!), but they are so good as a treat from time to time. Glad you liked the list and hopefully you have a bath in your new houseshare!

  7. Hot baths, face scrubs and wearing clothes that don’t make me look scruffy!

  8. Rachel says:

    I’ve been living in a van for the last 4 years and I could totally apply all of these to that too!
    Fresh bedding is make or break for me, when I backpacker travel (and stay in dorms, that doesn’t bother me so much) I take a silk sleeping bag liner. It’s so comfy to slip into if the sheets are less than appealing.

    • Steph says:

      You are spot on Rachel, silk sleeping bag liners are the way to go! I love mine too, especially for the sweaty tropical nights. We will be van living people too soon enough, so glad I’ve already got a good insight into what I will and won’t miss!

  9. Taylor says:

    Ha! This cracked me up. Particularly the personal space and drawers. Those are two things I TOTALLY miss in hostels, but am not sure if I’ve ever articulated before. At least we have a few things that make coming home worth it, huh?

  10. Totally relate to this when I think back on my backpacking days. It’s amazing how ridiculously luxurious a simple bathtub can feel at times!

  11. Ami says:

    I can see pain of being a back-packer. It sure is a tough life….especially with no bath…oh Man! One thing that I would not like to give up on 🙂 But Hats off to you guys!!!

  12. Len says:

    Hey! Very nice post, made me smile:) hot hot showers, wearing dresses and a big fluffy white towel (not the tiny quick dry bs:)!!!! I like how you point out that although being on a budget we skip some classy fun activities…but things you end up doing are priceless. Hitchhiking in Mexico!!! I wanna know more about it!! Solo? Flying to MX this week!! Enlighten me:)

    • Steph says:

      Oh the white fluffy towels for sure! How could I forget them?! Hitchhiking in Mexico is another post in itself! There were 2 of us doing it. Near Palenque in the South. Not recommended on a Sunday when everyone goes out drinking. 2 crashes within 3 minutes of each other. HA HA we live and learn!

  13. The health food is such a big one for me! I feel like maybe I could get my act together with a little bit more research. But luckily I’m only traveling very part-time right now, so I know I have a quick return to my Vitamix. 😉

  14. John Peltier says:

    Haha great list, they pretty much all apply to living on a tiny sailboat as well – I might be able to make the blender work but have to be careful with the electricity. But it’s all worth it, right?

  15. I’m PMSing so just wanna say I love you 😀 #girlpower

  16. Julia says:

    Just recently found your blog and I am loving it. I am also a vegetarian (mostly vegan and looking to transition), and I agree that healthy food is a luxury when on the road!

    • Steph says:

      Thanks Julia – it’s always good to connect with fellow veggies/vegans. Strict diets can be hard to follow when travelling, but it is possible. I’ve found being a veggie easy almost anywhere. Vegan can be a little more difficult although so far so good!

  17. Sarah says:

    Oh man, we e been budget travelling for 10 months now and having a hot bubble bath is by far the thing I miss the most! Really good read, love following your adventures. Sx

  18. Olivia says:

    Pinterest brought me here, and WOW I totally relate to so many of these! I didn’t realize how much I missed a baths and good showers until I had access to them again. I will never take bubble baths for granted again!
    XOX – Olivia
    WhiskeyandTeaTravels.com

    • Steph says:

      Ha ha Olivia, I think how excited you are by the thought of a bubble bath is a good indication of how long you’ve been on the road! Happy that Pinterest led you here .. don’t be a stranger!

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