I consider myself adaptable and able to find comfort anywhere. This trip though has taught me, there are a few creature comforts that I need. When the temperature surpasses 85 and humid, I really want air-conditioning. When the temperature falls below 55, I want hot water. I strongly prefer a bed without bugs, sand, and mosquitoes buzzing in my ear. Apparently I am not as adaptable as I once thought.
LOCAVORista has a much higher tolerance for discomfort. The biggest difference is that she is a cold body, the heat at night is nice to her. For me, a hot and humid night means I’m not really sleeping. I have found, on this trip more than any, that I am the one asking for a little extra in a hotel. This surprises me because we don’t spend our trip inside our room. Having stayed in places from $1 a night to $250+ in my life, I can honestly tell you, the differences are less than one would expect; that said, once you get below $5 a night, things go crappy, fast.
A blanket over plywood does not equate to a bed for me. If bugs are larger than my thumb, I get a little creeped out. Worse though are little bugs in the bed. We have found that when you get that feeling that something is crawling on you, in Asia, something probably is. While we started out the trip skimping a lot more, I am not up to roughing it as much anymore. The quality of my sleep affects the quality of my travels. We are now finding ourselves in $10-15 dollar a night hotels, and things are much better.
Upon selling my bed, all of our cozy oversized couches and parting ways with our apartment in preparation for this trip I knew I was kissing comfort goodbye, for a very long time. I did not and still don’t, after 5 months on the road, expect to find a hotel in our price range (under $20, ideally under $10) that will offer me an air-conditioned room with a bed that feels like the one I sold before I left. I had mentally prepared for this to be my reality for the indefinite future and therefore, let go of any attachment to these comforts. I had included all the dark, hot, dirty rooms with cold showers that I assumed we would stay in along the way as part of the adventure and was willing to settle for this to save a few bucks. Because staying on a budget keeps us traveling and a less-than-ideal hotel room is a small price to pay to add another country to our itinerary.
After all I am on this trip to see the world not the inside of a hotel room. If this is just going to be a place to sleep then my only requirement is that it doesn’t have bed bugs. I have set the bar low because accommodation is one of the largest expenses of the trip and one of the easiest ones to save money on. When you think my standards are just a little too low when the outcome is to save just $3 (or more) let me tell you about what that amount of money can buy you in SE Asia. I am a huge food person and $3 can buy you at least one if not more excellent street food meals. You can get three fresh fruit smoothies, you can get three beers or even a bus ticket to a new city for you to explore.
More than the money savings I also enjoy the budget accommodations because we typically find other shoestring travelers. Meeting other backpackers on the road has been of the highlights of our trip and almost all of them we have met at the hostel we are staying in. It’s always great to grab a meal with people you meet at the budget places because you know that they will be extending their thrifty mind set to eating as well. You also have someone to hang out with while you drink the beer that you bough at the 7 Eleven to save money. Budget accommodations suit me well and save us a lot of money in the long run.