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Budget Travel Guide for Travelers Who Care

PUERTO ANGEL, Mexico- There are two restaurants right next to each other on the beach of Puerto Angel that are virtually the same in almost every way. They both serve the same food, they both serve the same beer, they both have the same plastic tables and chairs and umbrellas sitting out on the beach [...]

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PUERTO ANGEL, Mexico- There are two restaurants right next to each other on the beach of Puerto Angel that are virtually the same in almost every way. They both serve the same food, they both serve the same beer, they both have the same plastic tables and chairs and umbrellas sitting out on the beach right by the bay. The only obvious difference is that one of them is cheaper.

One sells beer for 12 pesos a bottle, another sells beer for 15.

I watch as tourists, night after night, go to the more expensive one and drink lots of beer.

This was truly an enigma for me:

In a world where money is measured by the amount of time it takes to earn and monetary figures are essentially a  denomination of life, why would someone almost wantonly spend more money (expend more life) than they have to?

“Why would they drink beer there when they can go next door and get them for three pesos a bottle cheaper?” I asked my wife, thinking that she may have been able to make sense of this scenario. Why would they drink beer at a beach restaurant for 12 pesos a bottle when they could just buy it in a supermarket and drink it in virtually the same location on the beach for 9?

“They don’t care,” she spoke with finality.

She was correct, they don’t care.

Restaurant on beach of Puerto Angel

Saving five or six dollars per day, for most travelers, is not enough of an incentive to go door to door searching for better prices. For them, travel is a dreamtime period of their lives, money becomes no object, the thought of work is far away — they live it up and go home.

That is fine, if they like working full time 50 weeks a year (most people do).

I see this all over the world. I watch backpackers eat in backpackerish restaurants when they could pay less than half of what they are spending for the same food in a restaurant that serves the local clientele. I watch as people needlessly spend more money than they have to and then claim that travel is expensive.

They don’t care enough to make travel cheap.

My life’s work for the past five years has been sharing knowledge that could help people travel the world endlessly, without having to go home. The thesis of this website is about how someone could leave home and make a solid living wandering from place to place over the globe for as long as they want to.

I go from place to place, I learn how to travel better and cheaper, and I share this information with anyone who may be able to use it. I tell people what I do, how I live, and they often turn around and tell me that I am lucky.

“Oh, you are so lucky,” they say, “I wish I could do that.”

You can do that, I have been showing you how for years.

But you have to care.

I am able to travel because I care enough to case a town for the cheapest prices. When I arrive in a new place, I case it from end to end. I almost systematically walk from one edge of town to the other checking the prices of just about everything. After a day or two of doing this I am often confident that I know where most of the cheapest places to sleep and eat are, I log the locations of the supermarkets, the vegetable markets, any restaurants that have good prices, where and when the street food vendors set up, and the price of every hotel I pass.

This is part of the work of traveling. If I care about traveling then I care about the money I spend while traveling. If I care about the money that I spend while traveling then I put in the leg work to find the cheapest ways to travel possible. In this way, I can continue traveling.

But there is a shortcut. I put up the results what I find while casing a town up on the WIKI Vagabond travel guide for anybody to find and use. For each place I stay in for more than a couple of days I try to write of the where I recommend finding food, shelter, entertainment, and transportation.

I invite other travelers to do the same.

If I could put a little more life into this part of Vagabondjourney.com then I know that it could be a good resource for other people to work less and spend less in their travels. Each page on WIKI Vagabond also comes equipped with a button to print it easily. The idea is that someone could find the pages of the guide of relevance to their travels, print them, stuff them into their pocket, and pull them out in the street in real time to use.

I believe that if this guide was to reach a critical mass of usage — if enough travelers began uploading their own travel field notes about cheap food, accommodation, and transportation — then it could be a valuable asset to anybody who aims to travel the world perpetually. Anybody can upload pages to WIKI Vagabond, registration is easy.

A traveler’s first responsibility is to share information on the road ahead with other travelers.

I also want to someday be able to USE this travel guide.

Filed under: Budget Travel, Mexico, North America, Save Money for Travel, Vagabond Journey Updates, Work

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

4 comments… add one

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  • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 16, 2010, 11:08 am

    I am now making WIKI Vagabond my biggest investment on the site. I am now willing to pay travelers $4 for destination guides and $3 per hotel/ restaurant/other review. I will probably never make this money back, but I want the content. As I have said, I want to use this guide.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 16, 2010, 11:09 am

      If you are interested in applying, please go to Work for WIKI Vagabond.

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  • Sam December 17, 2010, 1:53 am

    I have to admit that I have been lazy in posting any findings I have to this part of VagabondJourney. As they say, taking the first step is always the hardest.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com December 17, 2010, 10:18 am

      Haha, no problem Sam. Often these types of entries start with a photo — so once you get the pictures the rest just sort of comes together. Thanks!

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