Budget Traveler Interview: Gary Arndt
June 3rd, 2011
We love hearing from travelers, so we’re starting a new series on Cheap Ticket Links in which we’ll talk to one budget traveler each week. If you know someone – or are someone – we should talk to, please let us know!
This week’s budget traveler is Gary Arndt. Gary set off on his travels in 2007 and he’s been traveling ever since. His popular travel blog, Everything Everywhere, was named by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 blogs of the year in 2010.
Do you like traveling on a budget? Why or why not?
I don’t view it as a matter of if I like it or not. The fact is, the less you spend the more you can travel. I like to travel so by necessity I am a budget traveler. If I blew all my money on a fancy hotel, there would be a lot less for me to see.
What’s your favorite budget-friendly location that you’ve ever visited?
I’d say the best place in terms of what you get for what you pay would probably be Vietnam. Vietnam is very affordable but I never found accommodations or transportation to be that bad. You can take a bus that isn’t a chicken bus. You can eat good food and stay in hotels for $10-20/night.
What do you do to make expensive destinations easier on the wallet?
There are only so many things you can do: Couchsurf or stay in a hostel, buy food in a market not a restaurant, and travel by bus or train. Eliminate unnecessary expenses and reduce costs on the necessities: Food, shelter and transportation.
What are some things you consider to be worth the splurge when traveling?
I think paying money for certain experiences is worth it. The things I’ve spent the most money on have been the things I remember the most: doing underwater photography, helicopter trips, swimming with whale sharks, etc. If you are going to spend money on something, make sure it is worth it.
If money were no object, do you think you’d still be more of a budget traveler or would you spend lavishly on travel? Why?
I’d visit more remote places rather than staying in luxury hotels. There are many places like the Pitcairn Islands or the South Pole which are very expensive to get to. I’d rather spend my money on things like that than a $400/night hotel. The one exception to that might be staying at the Burj al Arab would would be an experience in itself.
What are some places where you have been able to save on travel that you think most people overlook?
Some countries in the Pacific. Some islands like Tahiti or Bora Bora are very expensive. However, some places in Samoa or Fiji can be extremely affordable. I stayed in a beach fale in Samoa for $25/night that included all my meals. The trick to these places is just getting there, which can be expensive. Most people don’t think of the Pacific as affordable, but it can be.
What’s the most over-priced part of travel – the budget-buster?
For most people it will be air transportation. Even if you stay with friends and eat their food, crossing an ocean can’t be done for free. Unless you happen to find an extreme deal in a city you will happen to be in, you probably will have to fork over something for your flight.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you do to save money (travel or not)?
Many times I have wandered around city streets with my iPhone in my hand trying to find an open wifi signal so I can check email. I’ve become pretty good at guessing where I’ll find free wifi.