We see them walking either singly or in tandem, sometimes in small groups of threes and fours dodging cars in city streets, sometimes stopping and browsing cards and things in some souvenir shops. They travel with that ubiquitous backpacks with them everywhere they go.
They have been called several names, some flattering, some funny, and some downright insulting tags. The most fitting of all is probably extreme budget travelers.
Why travel at all if you only have such meager resources in places halfway around the world all on your own?
The extreme situation is actually exciting for them and is part of the bunch of reasons why they traveled at all. They get the satisfaction knowing that they are seeing the world and they are spending only pennies to do it.
The most experienced backpackers (their other nickname) actually recommend this kind of travel. They usually tell their messages to young people. (Of course, one can see several sixty-something guys in shorts and undershirts huffing around famous tourist places.)
The best things in life
Aside from being the most economical way to travel (to make your budget and your travel days last longer), backpackers insist everything they do is part of a learning experience. They stress blending in and learning the people’s culture as much as possible.
On their part, they learn to be flexible and be able to change plans as much as they like, moving slowly across each unbeaten track. (This could mean staying for a few weeks or months or years even, if they like the place so much.)
They learn and they enjoy taking things in stride because there are no responsibilities and no deadlines to make. They also stress this is one way to grow and it is necessary to be open to all possibilities at all times.
For the layman, there are some questions to be answered, though. What does extreme budget travel means? How do they live? What things do they leave out?
All of them already learned how to forget private rooms or baths or kitchens. For around five dollars, most of what you get is shared rooms, dormitory-style in any part of the world. (Some invest on ear plugs or some sleeping pills as a last resort to noisy snorers and talkers in their sleep.)
They also learn to forget favorite foods from home. They must learn to eat cheap local foods rich in carbohydrates. The downside is that one will likely be repeating those meals all throughout. Bananas (and other recognizable fruits) might be expensive but there could be other cheap discoveries around.
Living on a budget and with the locals requires them to learn to integrate themselves with the culture. This means that aside from enjoying the food, they must learn to dance the music and speak the language (or be intelligible at least).
Best of all, they must learn how to commune with nature in those local parts of the world since that is what they travel for in the first place. The fun part is that all of it is free.