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Expensive Countries Mean Extreme Vagabond Travel

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Expensive Countries Mean Vagabond Travel

The gap between the cheapest countries on the planet for travel and the most expensive is vast. The purchasing power of $10 goes from a full day’s necessities, a beer, and entertainment in some countries, while it others it is hardly even enough to buy a hamburger at a quicky mart. What sells for a dollar in the tropics can net ten times that much in the extreme northerly climes of Europe. I know that the Tropics are for cheap travel, but being a traveler with the ambition to travel the world and experience all of the countries and people of this great planet, I know that I must go to the expensive countries as well as the cheaper ones. Iceland is one of the most expensive countries on the planet, but I am traveling here and spending much more money than I do anywhere else in the world. How? I changed my strategy, I went into EVM: extreme vagabond mode.

What is extreme vagabond mode

[adsense]EVM is just a militaristic acronym to describe a way of travel in which you attempt to travel super cheaply through being as self-sufficient as possible, trying to minimize what you purchase through scavenging, trading, doing it yourself, or other creative means. Iceland is EXPENSIVE, and I know that each time I need something that I can’t produce or find is going to cost big money. Even the Lonely Planet — a guidebook generally used by tourists prepared to spend $50+ per day anywhere in the world — said sternly: “Iceland is a very expensive country.” But this statement did not make me cringe, as I know that I can travel through both the cheap and the expensive parts of the world for roughly the same amount of money: a simple shift in perspective is all that is needed.

There are three elements to world travel: transportation, accommodation, and food. This is all that is needed to move through the planet, and the more of these elements that I can provide for myself the cheaper travel will be. In cheaper climes, I tend to live like a vagabond king — getting nice rooms, 24 hour internet, and good food — but in more expensive tides I know that I must don the cloak of the pauper and go into EVM. Doing so means checking off as many of the three elements of travel as possible.

EVM in Iceland

Transportation

A $16 bus ride from REK to the city told me that this was the last time I would ride in such luxury in this country. So I cut out the cost of transport by picking up a bicycle, now transportation will cost me nothing.

Note on bicycle and expenses: If I had brought my own bicycle, as I’d initially planned, the cost of such a vehicle would have been the $30 fee to cart it on an Iceland Express aircraft (Iceland Air transports bikes for free). But I did not prepare, and I dropped $125 on a mountain bike in Reykjavik. The cost of bicycles for travel can be as little as nothing or as high as $5,000+, therefore I mention what I paid for the bike but do not include its cost in my day to day expenses. In point, you do not include the cost of a car in your road trip expenditures, so I do not include the cost of the bike when I explain the costs of bike tramping in Iceland — to do so would give an inaccurate picture. At any rate, $125 would hardly get me across this country on a single bus ride.

Accommodation

I have not slept indoors one night since landing in Iceland a couple of weeks ago. I either sleep for free in farmer’s fields or on the sly in the bush or, when I feel like showering, stashing my bags somewhere, or using other facilities, I pay a reasonable amount (seven to nine dollars) for a campsite. I could easily camp for free every night here, and in the entries that follow I will show in narrative form what I do for accommodation.

Food

I cannot grow my own vegetables and it would be a difficult task to slaughter my own meat when traveling, so I must rely on other sources for food. In Reykjavik I was able to scavenge 70% of my food from dumpsters and from the left over bins at the campsite. I am still eating off the spoils of Reykjavik as I write this from up the road in another part of the country. Meat is the big exception here, and is an unavoidable expense. Hot dogs seem to be a staple food in this country, and I’ve been gorging them whenever the opportunity allows. Hamburgers are also occassionally well price. In point, as far as food goes I know that if I’m always on the lookout for a free meal I will be able to fill my belly cheaply and effectively as I travel across this country. I am currently spending around $8 per day on food, but it may increase as my supplies from Reykjavik diminish down to nothing, but I know that if I stick to traveler food, that I can keep this cost relatively low.

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How expensive is Iceland?

From an initial view, Iceland seems to be roughly 70% to twice as expensive than the USA for just about everything, and at least four times more expensive than the bulk of tropical countries. For a loaf of bread in Iceland, the cost is around $4; for a third kilo of gouda cheese (cheapest variety in Europe), $5; instant coffee is unthinkable at $7 for 100 grams; eggs cost around fifty cents a piece; a gas station hot dog is $2.50; the cheapest dorm bed in the outskirts of Reykjavik runs $20; a dorm bed in the center is $40; a private room in a budget guesthouse is $100+; to set up a tent at a campground is seven to nine dollars; but 24 hours of daylight is absolutely free.

All roads are open when on the EVM

Many travelers of the world seem drawn to Western Europe — probably the most expensive region for travel. I have no idea why this is, other than the fact that the people are mostly white and many travelers therefore feel that it is safer. But the fact still remains that most of the readers here will be drawn to Western Europe over Africa, China, Mongolia, or South America. This continent holds a special draw for the bulk of the travelers of the world, so, as a writer who publishes information about such things, it is my job to show how these very expensive countries can be traveled relatively cheaply. I am going to do this here in Iceland. If you follow along I will lay out the groundwork as to how the most expensive countries in the world can be traveled well on $15 per day.

Regardless of what anyone tries to feed you, $50 per day is not a cheap travel budget anywhere in the world.

I am not a king in Iceland, I am a pauper — a vagabond in the truest sense — but I am living it up in views, experiences, and the bits and pieces of knowledge that I’m taking just because I am traveling very close to the ground, on the cheap. On the back of the business cards I have for Vagabond Journey Travel I put a quote by Richard Hallibuton that seems to sum up the deeper value that is inherent to vagabond in one sentence:

The Vagabond Life is the logical life to lead if one seeks the intimate knowledge of the world we were seeking.

Traveling as a vagabond means perpetually being on the lookout for every opportunity to get what you need and want on the road. It is more of a struggle to live this way, for sure, but at the end of the day the added effort given towards obtaining your daily bread is paid for in full through the experiences you will have and the knowledge you will gain. Vagabonding is nothing if not a challenge — an endless protrusion of min-adventures, some find this precariousness fun: cheap travel is not just to save money.

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Filed under: Adventure, Budget Travel, Europe, Iceland, Western Europe

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3054 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap