Low budget adventure is possible

Today we’ll follow up on last week’s posts where we explored what it is that prevents you from having more adventures.  Turns out money and time were the biggest culprits.

Money and time—if you had more of both, you’d be well on your to nonstop swashbuckling adventure, right? Well, as we discovered, yes and no.

More money and more time gets us to the faraway places we often dream of. No money and no time is far from desirable, but don’t let it get in your way. Stop making excuses. You’re better than that.

So what I would like to do is invite you to share your low budget adventure ideas and/or memories. This can be from any time, any place. The point is you had a ton of adventurous fun, and didn’t have to break the bank.

How do I define low budget? Good question. Anything in the free to $500 range would work for our purposes.

I’ll kick it off. I spent about $200 on a round trip Greyhound ticket across the United States. I was young and dumb (some might argue nothing has changed), and the thought of a four-day bus trip each way on America’s seediest form of transportation didn’t seem horrifying at the time.

But it was horrifying. And also strangely adventurous. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Did I learn a lot about low budget adventure and how incredibly weird people in this country can be? Without a doubt.

Your turn. I’ll think of more examples myself. I’m looking forward to your replies!



  1. Eric, are you familiar with Couch Surfing? I’m a couch surfer and would not travel without it!

    Oh…and I’ve done the cross country Greyhound thing, not as terrible as it sounds, but I agree….it’s not something I’m dying to do again. : )

    1. We actually just started looking into Couch Surfing for our RTW trip. Highly recommended, you say? It’s a great idea, we just aren’t so sure how well it works out in practice.

      Greyhound is terrible! Maybe you rode the one good bus, or something. My bus was full of a constantly revolving cast of crazies. Good times, though!

      1. I highly recommended joining up. I’ve been a member for a couple of years, I’ve used it more than a few times….and I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s amazing to arrive in a new city and have friends already there to hook up with and to stay with. Locals know the best places to check out…they introduce you to friends. I know I’ve experienced things which I never would have if not for Couch Surfing.

        Not only for when I’m traveling, but I’ve also had really cool travelers passing through SA who I’ve met up with for drinks or coffee to talk about travel and adventures. Even if you don’t use it on this trip….I recommend joining. What’s better than a network of 2 million adventures world wide all willing and wanting to share the adventure!?

      2. Cool! Isn’t there some sort of screening process, or am I making that up?

        Please check all that apply:

        1. Nice guy

        2. Accommodating

        3. Ax murderer

  2. For a $500 budget I developed I custom trip plan to a young woman living in Memphis to go to Atlanta for a long weekend. The budget put her into a romantic bed and breakfast with hot tub (on her wish list), suggested activities that met her hobbies and interests and that of her travel companion, suggestions of some great places to eat, and several music venues for late night fun.

    I have also developed a custom trip plan to a woman living in Colorado who wanted to go “somewhere within 3 hours drive that has archaeological interest”. I was able to give her a plan that would take her to an area where ghost towns now exist where booming silver mines were, spend 2 nights in a b&b with hot springs, and suggested several places for dinner, all within her $500 budget.

    An adventure does not have to spine-tingling nor budget-breaking to be an experience that will enrich your senses!

    1. “An adventure does not have to spine-tingling nor budget-breaking to be an experience that will enrich your senses!”

      Excellent observation! Do you plan trips for all budgets? How challenging is low budget planning for you?

      1. There have been a few times when the desire to include certain things can’t work, but modifications make it feasible. For example, if someone has champagne taste in lodging but a beer budget, splitting the lodging between 2 types of places during the trip can equalize the budget drain. Only once has it come down to….save more and do this next year. And now, it IS the next year and the trip is going forward.

  3. LOL! Yes it is screened…but by the user. Lets say I was going to LA. I search LA…probably 1,000s of CSers would come up. I look through the profiles, find some that have the same interests as I, and then check out their references. References are from other CSers who have actually met and hung out/stayed with these people. Ok, I find someone I like, send him a request to stay with him including when and the length of my stay. He then checks out my profile and says yes or no based on my references, and whether his ‘couch’ is available at that time. No one is ever obligated to say yes to anyone. All exchanges between he and I are monitored by CS…if you want to exchange personal emails and phone numbers that’s on you. I always do. As a female solo traveler…. I’ve never had a bad experience….in fact, they were all beyond good!

    CS verifies members in two ways. 1 – they send you a post card containing a code that you have to key in at the website. This verifies your actual location. 2 – they ask that you make a ‘donation’ by credit/debt card. The donation can be any amount…I think I did $2. This is to verify that you are who you say you are. Neither of these steps are required, I did them because I want to be verified, and I usually look for hosts who are also verified.

    And just to tease you….I will tell you that on my first CS adventure I stayed for a week on a yacht in the waters off the Great Barrier Reef….it was…yeah…awesome….it was free…I met cool people…and I was hooked!

    1. You stayed on a yacht off the Great Barrier Reef for a week? For free? Seriously? That’s incredible! And it was all arranged through CS?

      OK, I’m headed over to CS right now to sign up. I’m in!

  4. Long-term adventure with zero additional costs to daily living. Although I was employed when I began this adventure on October 15, 2011 (my 31st birthday), I am now unemployed and the adventure, with zero budget, continues.

    Could I run every day of my 31st year? At that point, I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t in the worst shape, but I was far from my best. I set out on October 15th, on the beaches of Cape Cod, barefoot, a good friend by my side. From there, I defined my goal. In order for a run to count, it has to be just a mile. If I am ever injured or feel an injury coming on, I am allowed to aqua jog, but it has to be a minimum of 45 minutes. Simple. No excuses.

    The adventurous part of this year-long goal is not making excuses nor exceptions. Because most people would not run when they were feeling under the weather. They would not run while they were on a cross-country trek to start a new life. They wouldn’t run in a blizzard, a downpour rainstorm, when their foot hurt or when they were tired. I run regardless. Every day is an adventure because I have to go no matter what the elements, the temperature, the conditions of the outdoors and my body.

    This adventure has had a zero budget. Many times in the beginning, I ran barefoot, eliminating even the need for pricey running shoes.

    Can anyone do this? Maybe. Maybe not. Running ONE mile is really not that hard to do. No one said it had to be fast or pretty (although I must say, after 140+ days, my miles are starting to get faster and prettier).

    Eat well, sleep well, drink enough water, pay attention to your body and – no matter what – get your butt out there.

    How’s that for low-budget adventure!

    1. Very cool! I’m very impressed with runners…as it’s something I don’t think I could do. Do you always run barefoot? I recently read Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run, and was amazed!

      1. Hey thanks for the comment! I actually haven’t been running barefoot much at all (lately) because of a bunion I am forming on the lateral aspect of my foot, and a desire to increase my mileage and speed. I am more interested in trail running. I started to read “Born to Run” but got sidetracked. Time to pick it back up! I believe anyone who can walk a mile a day could run a mile a day. All you need is desire and patience. Fitness comes over time!

    2. Setting an adventurous goal and sticking to it is a really smart idea, especially if it’s free. Running is great in that it can really take you places you might not experience otherwise.

      Kudos to you! I think this is a fantastic goal to set. One part adventure, one part physical fitness. Are you running any marathons this spring/summer?

      1. I am signed up for the Mt. Hood 50-miler. I’m not sure I’m feeling motivated to run it though. The friend who signed me up for it (as a welcome present to Bend) hasn’t been running at all. I didn’t think I was heading into this solo. Adventure? Seems so. I need to find a job first. Planning a running vacation seems like putting the cart way before the horse is even born!

  5. Might I also add at that WordPress allows you to blog about all those adventurous moments for FREE?!

  6. I feel like I’m in a different country just driving two hours west into the Atchafalaya basin of Louisiana. It’s an almost completely incomprehensible language and culture with enough old time religion and superstition to distract you from the real risk of an alligator eating your dog. Plus, it’s free. Besides the gas money and liquor and food budget the national forest is always free to camp in and the roadside attractions are well worth the drive. I am a huge advocate of utilizing Teddy Roosevelt’s only gift to the country, that is the National Parks and the free camping they provide. In the Pacific NW it was seldom used logging roads and beautiful views, in southern Louisiana it is meandering dirt roads through mosquito and chigger infested deltas and floodplains. Both beautiful in their own ways. Let’s face it, though, if you are the type to disdain dirt, fresh air, awesome views and poisonous snakes, an affordable adventure is out of the question. A low budget trip anywhere will inevitably involve some unpleasant attributes, and sipping mojitos poolside in Cabo is not what I would call and adventure. Regardless of how pleasant and accommodating a tropical resort setting or cruise may be, it costs a lot more money than simply pitching a tent in your own back yard or closest national forest.

    1. While my dog isn’t necessarily at risk of being eaten by an alligator during our walks in the barrio across the street, sometimes it does feel like a different country. Not even near the extent to what you’re describing, which sounds completely awesome by the way. Shaina and I have to make plans to come out and see you guys in Louisiana before you up and leave.

      Anyway, the barrio is Carlsbad’s first neighborhood. I dig it because it has that old school California feel to it. We walked by a place the other day that formerly housed Carlsbad’s first electrician. Apparently the guy wired half the town back in the day. Pretty cool.

      Too bad the neighborhood kind of gets a bad rap. Or at least Shaina gives it a bad rap. Yeah, a few gang bangers have been shot or stabbed in the barrio, but that’s everywhere you go, right? I’ve seen way worse neighborhoods in places like Chicago. The barrio is actually pretty well-kept!

      Good point on the disdain for dirt, fresh air, awesome views, and poisonous snakes. Adventure comes with a certain amount of discomfort. That’s why backpacking is so great, though. It’s a little uncomfortable at times, but it’s cheap, and it puts you in some of the raddest places on Earth. Speaking of which, you and I should backpack together soon. How’s about a little bachelor party in the woods, eh? You up for the Lost Coast?

  7. Geo-caching.
    In my case, the initial outlay of a few hundred for the device (though there are those that do all the route finding online) has been worth the traveling around town into parks or to see areas I wouldn’t have seen while looking for real or virtual caches.

    1. Geo-caching sounds like a ton of fun once you get over the initial investment! How did you get into it? Randomly, or did you know somebody?

      1. I had wanted a handheld GPS, but couldn’t justify buying one (I mean really, what are you going to do with it?)
        Then my girl looked into it a little deeper, found geocaching,org and bought us the receiver.

        Lots and lots of fun. Found some really cool locations through it!

  8. I want to add to the Couch Surfing discussion: I have been in Argentina for the past 40 days and I have only had to pay for a place to stay 7 times. The rest has been couch surfing, and I have had a great experience. I have had hosts take me all over from kayaking in Tigre to touring personal vinyards in Mendoza.

    Let me just say that there are ways you can personally screen your hosts or surfers, and one of the best is their photo. If they don´t have photos, maybe not the best person to stay with.

    Also with Couchsurfing: you always have a way out. If you go to someone.s home and you are not comfortable, you are not obliged to stay. It´s as simple as that: just know that you have the right to leave and get a hotel.

    Other tips for travelling cheap:
    Travel with someone makes splitting meals and hotel rooms affordable.
    Never buy water, you can always fill up a water bottle in a bathroom if the water is safe, which it generally is in developed countries.
    And lastly carry around a small snack for hungry emergencies. If you get really hungry, you will eat an expensive meal just to satisfy yourself.

    Good discussions!

    1. My wife and I are stoked on Couch Surfer now! Only paying for a week of accommodations over a 40 day span? Unreal.

      Thanks for the tips! Hopefully we’ll get to put them to good use soon. How much longer are you chillin’ in Argentina?

  9. My trip to the Sinai Peninsula last weekend was FREE! Transportation, food and accommodations included. I only paid for anything I bought from the Bedouins and my massage after the hike up Mt. Sinai. I didn’t plan on it being free. I know one of the partners in a tour group here in Egypt. He had a group in and I asked if I could join. I was planning on paying SOMEthing; he did not let me pay one cent. I couldn’t believe his generosity…

    I just posted about it on my blog. 🙂 Incredible journey…

    1. Sounds like a blast! Sometimes it’s nice to know the right people. I’ll have to check out your post in a bit!

    1. WWOOFing rocks…but I’ve yet to do it! I was going to in New Zealand, but somehow ended up in Southeast Asia instead. These things happen. : )

Say what?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s