Is $5 a Day Really Enough?
Last week, I wrote about Andy the Hobo Traveler, and his inspiring motto: If you earn $5 a day, you can travel forever.
That article received a strong reaction, and not just from people who were inspired by Andy’s approach to long-term travel. Others were skeptical. One reader, J Nizzle, commented:
5 bucks a day. I think that is totally possible. If you don’t mind those living conditions. How long can you sleep on the ground? Or better yet in some seedy places that work with a 5 dollar budget. What is the quality of food you are eating? How about not showering for a few days?
I understand the skepticism. I mean, most days I spend $5 by noon. And that’s not even taking into account the cost of renting a house.
But Andy sent me an interesting email last week, which perfectly illustrates how he is able to get by on so little. With his permission, I’ve published it here, for the benefit of all the doubters.
How Andy does it
I earn over 100-150 U.S. per day, and I am laughing at myself. I am splurging here and getting a really good room for one month and I am still living close to 5 dollar per day
“I just rented a room in an apartment building here in Bangkok. I am sharing it with my girlfriend. Huge room with queen size bed, hot shower, and air conditioning, security and a balcony.
“Cost is 5200 Bath for one month – or 152 dollars.
“This is an expensive apartment.
“However, if you think, the two of us are paying 5 dollars per day for a room, so half is $2.50.
“I ate chicken fried rice last night at the expensive apartment restaurant, it cost 40 baht, the cheap prices of Chicken fried rice is 20. It cost me one dollar.
“These days, I earn over 100-150 U.S. per day, and I am laughing at myself. I am splurging here and getting a really good room for one month and I am still living close to 5 dollar per day.
“Note, realize though in Japan, South Korea, it cost me 30 dollars per day… plus airfare.
“However, in Taiwan I lived in a room for free because I helped the owners four years ago to understand how to market their hostel, when I arrived they gave me a room.
“I think the true test of whether a person is a traveler could be the question: ‘How much does is cost to rent a room?’
“If they say less than 15, they may be a traveler.
“I would say, 5-10 US, as this is the normal amounts I pay.”
Is it for you?
Andy gets by on $5 a day, and you can too – if you’re willing to make some concessions. For example, if you’re trying to get by on a $5 a day budget, you should probably avoid most of Europe. As Andy points out, Japan and South Korea were both more expensive for him.
And as Darren from TravelRants mentioned, there are luxuries in life you will have to let go of:
I could resign from my job, and live off what I earn on my blog, BUT, I am used to the luxury of living in a nice apartment, travel 2,3,4 times a year, have the latest gadgets and live comfortably.
Ultimately, the question to ask is not whether it can be done (Andy is living proof that it can), but: “Is it for me?”