In 61 days I traveled to Thailand and the Philippines, a journey of 22,415 miles with19,967 miles by air and 2,448 by bus, jeepney, and moto-trike. My total cost was $4,549 or about $75 per day.
My hotel costs were $1,243 for an average of $21 per night. Thailand averaged $22 per night, and the Philippines averaged $18 per night. Most of the rooms had A/C—if the climate justified it—, were very clean and neat, had in-room bathrooms with hot water showers, located near tourists spots and metro stations, and TVs.
My food costs, including beer and wine, was $2,534 for an average of $43 per day with Thailand at $52 per day, and the Philippines at $25 per day. By comparison daily food costs for my 2014 Trans-Siberian trip was $35 per day, my SE Asia trip was $28 and my 2012 Brazil trip was $38.
My total Travel costs (includes airport fees and tours) were $772.
The United Partners—Air China and Asiana—air fare trip from SEA via San Francisco via Beijing to Bangkok and return from Bangkok via Inchon, South Korea, cost 80,000 miles and $69.01. If I would have paid for these same flights, they would have cost me $1,084. The travel time from SEA to Bangkok via Beijing is 18 1/2 hours and 8,638 miles. The travel time from Bangkok via Inchon, South Korea to Seattle is 14 3/4 16 hours and 7,492 miles.
The round trip flight from Bangkok to Manila cost $223 on Philippine Air.
The three domestic flights in the Philippines with AirAsia, Philippines and Cebu Air cost $107.
The Honda Bay tour of two islands with snorkeling and lunch cost $44.
The 24 hour motor scooter rental plus 5 liters of gas on Puerto Princesa cost $17.
The Krabi four island boat tour with snorkel gear and lunch cost $20.
The Krabi Resort Chinese New Year’s Show costs $34.
The Pattaya Ladyboy Show cost $25.
- The remainder of the travel costs were for buses, ferries, and motorbikes or trikes.
No more travelers check and no more big money belt with a large stash of USD now that ATMs are so popular in all of the countries I visited.
I begin my trips with about $300 USD in $20s and about 10 one dollar ($1) bills just in case I cannot locate an ATM machine.
Since the fee is the same whether you take a small amount of money or large, I usually get a larger amount like around $250 to $300 USD in the local currency. Many places have a limit of about $100 to $175 that you can withdraw at any one time though.
WARNING: DO NOT LOSE YOUR ATM CARD OR LEAVE IT IN THE MACHINE.
Frequent Flyer Miles
Since 2000, I've made 19 international trips to Europe, Asia and Latin America using frequent flyer miles; plus another 16 to Mexico using a combination of frequent flyer miles or companion tickets (Alaska Air).
We use our credit cards for almost all purchases to rack up a lot of miles. I do what is called "churning" my credit cards. To learn more about "churning" and how to maximize the frequent flyer programs go to the Frugal Travel Guy website. There, you will learn about some extreme "churners", how to get to your destinations, and see some current credit card offers. I recently signed up for a 50,000 mile bonus with American Advantage Citi MasterCard which will cover the cost of another trip to South America. My next trip to Bogota, Colombia on June 6th will cost me 32,500 America Air miles plus airport fees of $80.70.
My Mini-iPad is a Great Travel Tool
After buying three country Lonely Planet Guides—Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru for my upcoming trip, Amazon offered me the opportunity to download these guides for just $3 each to my Kindle APP on my mini-iPad. Again this saves me from hauling around about 3 lbs of books. I still cut out the city sections including the maps and put each in a ziplock bag for easy reference. When I am done with them, I leave them off at a hotel I am staying at.
Other travelers and the locals enjoyed seeing the photos and videos I had on the mini iPad, especially when they were in the pictures.
WiFi spots at hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, airports, and other locations are much more available throughout the tourist areas of than even found in the Seattle area.
The battery life was generally not a problem. I found it easy to recharge at most stops.
Many travelers and locals buy and use plastic water bottles. I don’t like to see such a waste of resources with the bottles just going into landfill or recycled. I continue to use a SteriPen Freedom along with a wide mouth plastic bottle. The recharger cable for the SteriPen had a USB connection and also worked recharging my Logitech keyboard so I could use the iPad charger for this without bringing the SteriPen and Logitech charger which saved me about 4 oz. The purification process was quick—-about 1 1/2 minutes of UV light and no chemicals. I had no intestinal problems during the trip, but the Bangkok tap water smelled like sewage.
My total pack weight weighed in at 7.1 lb. and by the end of the trip it weighed just 6.5 lb. because I had used up my vitamins, tossed some of the old guide book sections and maps, the plastic liter bottle and bowl, the soap, deodorant, toothpaste, hair gel, a shirt, and a pair of socks. I no longer carried a couple of novels.
My shirts, pair of pants and underwear worked well with the frequent washings except that I wore out both pairs of socks so those were replaced. My rain jacket was useful for the occasional heavy rains.
Next time I will not carry my money belt since I do not carry much cash saving another 3 oz.
How You Can Travel Cheaper than Me
There are two major opportunities for spending less than me: sleeping accommodations and food.
To spend less on sleeping accommodations, you could limit your stays to the cheapest dorms only, use the Couchsurfing website which has "free" places to stay throughout the world, or camping—-stealth camping for free.
To spend less on foods, just limit yourself to street food, or shop in grocery stores. Most hostels have kitchens, refrigerators and cooking facilities.
I enjoy eating well at the local restaurants as well as occasional street food venues and, as you can see from my costs, that my food costs were more than double my hotel costs and more than my travel costs, and I gained 10 pounds as well.
Seeing More American Travelers Now
In both the Philippines and Thailand I am now seeing more independent American travelers who also travel on a low budget on local buses, ferries and stay in hostels or cheap hotels. Some good websites for finding accommodations include: www.hostelworld.com, www.tripadvisor.com, www.booking.com, and www.agoda.com.