Budget Travel: How to Travel in Asia for $5 a Day

“I wish I could start traveling but I need to save a lot of money which I don’t have right now,” sighed my twenty-something new acquaintance. “I would like to go to Singapore.”

“There are so many ways to travel inexpensively if you would take the time to do research,” I said. “You can go backpacking but Singapore is too expensive for a first-timer. Better go to Thailand and hit two more countries like Laos and Cambodia by land. That way, you can visit three countries in one go.”

He let out another sigh, showing how little credibility my words held for him. “Travel now, pulubi (poverty) later.”

I wish I was more convincing at the time. I wish I had heard of Vinny Viaje’s How to Travel the World for $5 a Day at that time but alas, the course came two weeks late for my doubting acquaintance.

Screenshot from Vinny Viaje's How to Travel the World for $5 a Day
Even though I have been traveling for most of my life, my curiosity was piqued by the course title especially since $5 usually just covers my lunch. I mentally folded my arms as I hit the “sign up” button and immediately was promised a “free” tour---meaning, how to get accommodation, rides, and meals for free, well for most of the time anyway. The only budgetary concerns would be airfare (if absolutely necessary) and emergency funds. Vinny even showed a mathematical formula to achieve the $5.

Without giving anything away, the following are his four principles for an optimal experience:
·        Cultural authenticity
·        Exploration of a foreign land
·        Adventure into different perspectives
·        Cultivation of local relationships

In a nutshell, Vinny advocates avoiding tourist traps and going straight to the locals to live out the old adage, “When in Rome…” With how he lays them out, it’s not just because Italian blood runs through his veins.

One might argue that shelling out $35 may not be worth it when you can just Google but you have to wade through myriads of websites and blogs when Vinny presents them neatly and in just two hours.

What I like best about the course is Vinny comes off as a friend who is really sincere in wanting you to save. He doesn’t talk down because he’s this experienced know-it-all traveler. In one session, he espouses instilling the sense of security, trust, and honesty with the locals and you could see him working that magic on you. He doesn’t even rely on any sleek video production, music, or loud talking. The screenshot you saw early on? That’s all you see in different shirt patterns and yet he was able to hold my interest in spite of my short attention span and I was left wanting more. If he ever decides to create a version 2.0 or another chapter of the course, I hope that would focus on taking trips to Asia or Africa as most of the examples he mentioned were in the west where comparatively, there may not be much of a cultural shock.

Am I a convert after the course? Well, to be honest---it takes a lot of guts to follow his advice which relies so much in the goodness of strangers that the cynical me can’t accept, although he does append his thesis with a lot of safety suggestions. Perhaps my new acquaintance might give it a try if I could just remember his name.

- The Paranoid Traveler -


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