Himalaya Range, Leh, India
I work abroad where the cost of living is low. My company pays for my housing. I pay for utilities, phone and food. If I were in the US, my pay would be considered low, but because of the low cost of living, I can live fairly opulently. I go out at least once a week for dinner and drinks. I go to the theatre or to a movie, I attend special events and travel. In the last two years I have traveled to 6 countries, not counting the US.
Two things help me to travel. 1) Airline flights are much less expensive. I don’t have as far to travel, so it’s much easier to find cheap flights. 2) I have friends and family I can stay with, which means I don’t pay for a hotel.
We stayed in InterHouse hostel ($15/night) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It was clean and bright. The staff was friendly and helpful. In Almaty, Kazakhstan, we stayed in a really awful “hotel” that was more like a hostel. Due to an unscrupulous landlord, we had no choice. Lake Balkash, Kazakhstan had a nice hotel that charged us almost by the hour. Leh, India has many guesthouse to choose from in all price ranges. I chose a guesthouse that included 3 meals a day.
I traveled to Vienna, Istanbul, Bergen, Norway and Amsterdam and stayed with friends and family.
Should you travel alone or with friends? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Let’s say you would like to go to France and tour castles. No one you know is either interested in this trip or can afford it. Should you just stay home? I say NO! Find a tour group if you don’t want to travel by yourself. But if you want to go, go!
One of the advantages of traveling alone is that you are the master of your time. You don’t have to wait for your pal to wake up, you don’t have to spend 2 hours in the gift shops if you don’t want to, you can spend as little or as much time as you like where you like. One disadvantage is there is no one to share a memory with. “Remember when we…?” Also, sometimes traveling with a friend can be a stressful, contentious experience. Not all friends travel well.
Traveling with a friend or group of friends is can be more enjoyable. Your friends may notice something interesting that you didn’t. Eating alone doesn’t compare with sharing a meal. Perhaps your friend is more outgoing than you and can make friends with the locals, something you would never do, but this makes for a memorable experience.
What about safety? Surely there is safety in numbers. No necessarily. Pickpockets like crowds. Accidents happen whether you are with people or not. Be aware of your surroundings when you travel, whether traveling alone or with friends.
It comes down to you. Would you prefer a shared experience or solo travel?