Budget? How do they travel for a YEAR?


Lovina Bali Beach Cottage, Bali, Indonesia

Budget or How do they travel for a YEAR?

Traveling in Asia long term is different than a week’s holiday in Hawaii or somewhere else close to home.

One important thing to consider on long-term travel is visa requirements and how long are you allowed to stay in different countries. Travel with a USA passport is generally easy; for our current trip we arranged a two-month visa for Indonesia before we left home.

But the thing that makes most traveling partners fight is usually money or different expectations about money and living standards while traveling. When George and I left for a year in 2008, we had very different ideas about what “great” travel was. George had been in Paraguay in the Peace Corps and dug his own latrine. During that same time, I traveled in five star luxury working for Princess Cruises.

When we arrived in Bali four years ago, George brought me to a “great” hotel and I burst into tears. I said, “This is the great hotel I have been waiting to see?” He had been there years prior with two male buddies and the three of them split the $10.00usd a night which magically included breakfast. I looked at the room with walls painted different colors, the threadbare window covering, the falling-apart single sheet on the bed, the lack of towels or toilet paper and the grimy bathroom and said, “This is where you’ve brought me?” We had many discussions during our trip about the difference between what we each thought made a great room and the importance of using the word cheap or good value instead of great as a modifier!

Lisa and George in Lovina

Over our years of traveling together, we have met people who kept track of their budget to the penny, hoping to save enough each day that their trip could be extended from a twelve-month trip to a fifteen-month excursion. We met a couple last summer in Tonga, who were mainly WWOOFING and couch surfing and managed to have a long trip starting with only $12,000. I have watched a group of three guys bargain a room down in Guiling, China from $15 to $12 and then go out and spend $10 each on beers. Everyone seems to have a different important luxury whether it is the room, the sites, the food, or the souvenirs.

This year like our last long trip, our budget is $100usd/per day for the two of us. So far we are doing great on our budget and staying in some really nice places. Bakung Sari in Kuta and Bali Lovina Beach Cottages in Lovina were both great and both on Asiarooms.com. We did find a lovely place in Lovina for 125,000Rp, which would be only 100,000Rp for multiple nights (about$10usd) with a fan and a beautiful garden and includes breakfast but I am not sure we are going to stay any more nights here.

Yesterday we ate at Bintang Bali, right on the beach, for lunch with free wifi and we enjoyed a large bottle of water, watermelon juice and two chicken satays for about $6 USD. For dinner we went to Triple 9 and enjoyed the live band and a great dinner with two juices (one pineapple, one watermelon) each 12,000Rp and a Cap Cay and a Fried Vegetables at 19,000Rp so, about $7 with tip. Including our trip to the store for some soda and a small bottle of rum, we spent about $65 for our room which includes breakfast and our day out in Lovina.

We had several long walks on the beach. We did not go on the Dolphin tour as we rarely participate in adventures that include that word “Sunrise.” At Angkor Wat, we did wake up to see the temples at dawn and the experience was worth it. But at Mt. Bromo, we went at 11am and saw no crowds and nor need for jackets. Last summer, we went on a whale-swimming adventure and swam with humpback whales as well as spinner dolphins—so no sunrise wake up for us in Lovina.

This sleepy beach town is enjoyable with great restaurants, live music and lots of room for relaxing. Do not worry about shopping, the vendors will find you. We are a great disappointment to the ladies on the beach as we do not shop while we travel unless we need to replace something, and we rarely buy items to bring home.

Will we stay another day in Lovina? Are we off to Tulamben? I know we will have breakfast at our hotel and then we will see what the day brings as we relax and let the journey unfold.

July 9, 2012

Loving Lovina: Video

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

4 responses to “Budget? How do they travel for a YEAR?

  1. Isn’t it fantastic how far ones money goes in South East Asia? We quite comfortably lived on around US$100 a day in Thailand – two adults and a toddler. Things got a little more expensive in Malaysia and we broke the budget in Singapore but were expecting that to happen.

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