I think that it´s time to announce that these 6,5 weeks of travelling were not enough for me. There will be a ´Middle East backpacking-part 2′, in which I’ll explore Turkey and Iran!
I’m super excited about this, but travelling is expensive. But is it really?! I once calculated that my 2 month backpacking trip in Indonesia was cheaper than staying in the Netherlands. Time to reveal my secrets, so that you all can keep travelling): travelling on a shoestring!
It’s actually very easy: you just need to travel cheapass style. There are many tricks you can do. In Morocco and Turkey for example, many hostels offer mattresses on the rooftop terrace for half of the price (although hostels are also extremely cheap, generally between €4 – €6). In Istanbul, I had a bed from which I could see the Aya Sofya (THE mosque you need to see). How amazing is it if this is the first thing you see when you open your eyes in the morning?! (But bring earplugs, because the first call for prayer is early!). However, now that we’re entering the low season, some hostels might close the rooftop.
Another trick is couchsurfing; I absolutely love it! The concept is easy: whoever has a spare bed or couch, posts it on a website, and travellers looking for a place to stay can contact them. I can hear you thinking; ‘but then you don’t know who you’re staying at’. True, the whole concept is based on trust. References are very important, so you can always read how other people experienced their stay at a person’s place. It’s a perfect way to meet local people and get off the well-trodden tourist path. And where else can you play children’s monopoly at 8 in the morning and sleep between helicopter-toys? I’ve had more than once that I stayed at someone’s house without him/her even being at home, as described in my last blog (‘the key’s under the rock next to the door, enjoy!’).
Another way to save money, which I use whenever I can, is hitchhiking! But keep in mind that this might not be the most clever thing to do in every country. I’ve been hitchhiking quite a lot in multiple countries, but it was never as easy as in Israel. Sometimes I didn’t even have time to raise my hand (don’t raise your thumb here, this is the sign prostitutes use, unless you’re looking for alternative ways to fund your trip). It generally took 3 cares in rural areas (data are very scientifically retrieved) and about 5 minutes at busy junctions. Haha, although I once got dropped off in the middle of nowhere; the kind of place that has 3 buses a day. I was slightly worried, but even here I waited for only 15 minutes. And the next car dropped me off in front of my door!
Besides this, there are common things to save money: cook in your hostel, find a hostel that includes breakfast, don’t book your hostel, but just show up and negotiate a price (not recommended in high season), don’t book trips but just go by yourself (although that one time we shared a taxi in Jordan, the road became a river and it still took us forever),
use public transportation instead of tourist buses (although these also transport sheep, goats and chickens). I once accidentally booked the ‘chicken bus’ in Morocco. I’m not a person that’s easily scared, but I’m terrified of chicken. Great fun.
And sometimes you just need to pay the full price, like here in Petra, Jordan. But ask others if it’s worth it.
As you can read; lots of ways to save money, and thus extend your trip! Let me know if you have more ideas, because I love trying them!