After quitting his job as a bank risk manager to travel through Asia, Charles Rahm of Don't Worry Just Travel never returned. He has also traveled extensively through Europe and other places. He took some time to talk with us about budget traveling, insider tips and some cities to visit on your budget and those to stay away from. He shares great travel tips trying to make travel accessible, usable and easy for everyone.
Looks like you've been all over the world. What is your favorite, most affordable place to visit?
I'm not trying to squeeze out the last cent, but if you want good value for your money, then Vietnam and Cambodia are two countries you should travel through. My favorite place in these countries is Siem Reap, the hub to visit the famous Angkor Wat temple. There you should stay in one of the many locally managed guesthouses that you can find by simply walking in.
Can you share three basic tips for the traveler on a budget?
1. Booking accommodation: In Southeast Asia, just walk into local guesthouses, let them show you the rooms until you find something that suits you. This works whether you want an en suite room or a dorm bed. In Europe, book your accommodations as early as possible.
2. Don't travel in the high season! Find out when the high season is at the place you want to visit and when the school holidays are. Avoid these times and travel right before or after them.
3. Try to stay at places where many other budget or single travelers stay and then book group tours and activities together with your newfound travel friends.
Is having a tight budget a reason not to travel and explore?
No, it is not! This is an excuse many people use not to go traveling. And it's such a pity, because traveling opens up your mind and provides invaluable life experience.
The most expensive thing is the flight to go somewhere and back. Once at the destination, you just have to book dorm beds to keep accommodation costs low. And follow the budget tips given above.
Top five most affordable cities?
I'll list one per continent. Otherwise, probably all five would be in either Asia or South America.
1. Bangkok in Thailand for the mix of affordability and so many things going on there.
2. Granada in Spain because it also is not too expensive and everyone should see the Alhambra!
3. Cusco in Peru because it is an amazing city, close to Machu Picchu.
4. In Australia, Adelaide is one of the more affordable cities.
5. Go and ride that camel near Marrakesh, Morocco, and don't forget to bargain hard at the markets.
Top five cities for the budget traveler to steer clear of?
1. Oslo in Norway: Everything in Norway is so expensive!
2. My home country should also be on the list. And in Switzerland, Geneva is the most expensive city.
3. I think in the United States, it's pretty impossible to have a cheap holiday in New York.
4. In Venice, Italy, I had to pay 55 Euros for a 40-minute trip with the Gondola for my girlfriend and me, and everything else is expensive there, too. Our hotel was 20 minutes away by train in order to find something affordable.
5. London in the UK is also expensive.
An extra tip here: If I find a city that's too expensive, but want my own room with a shower, I book outside of the city, but check whether there is a train station nearby that place to reach the city I want to visit. I've done that in Munich during Oktoberfest and in Venice.
What was your inspiration for Don't Worry Just Travel?
It was another travel blogger that convinced me to start my own travel blog. I met him when I was couchsurfing in Taipei, Taiwan. Couchsurfing is also a good way to keep costs low and to get to know new, interesting people.
Do you recommend a "home base" with day trips or city-hopping to stay within a budget?
City-hopping is better because it keeps transportation costs lower because you don't always travel there and back. But I try to stay at one place for at least two days because it stresses me out to always be on the move.
What's your next travel destination?
I'm traveling right now (the first three weeks of September 2014) through Southern France and Spain along the Pyrenees. :-)