the stretchers

this might have a lot to do with me getting older.

grumpier.

less-accepting of the younger generation.

I hate people who preface things, but I also have to be honest about being easily annoyed these days by the younger traveling generation, even though, one of the next big projects is pushing more of them to take a year off.

but this isn’t about that.

this is about assholes.

we’ve already addressed my zero-toleration for the cheaps – I can’t stand them.

but this is about The Stretchers.

the people who – before leaving – decide that they’re going to stick to their $30 a day budget no matter what, so that their $3000 will last them exactly 100 days.

but, as I said in an article for NatGeo a few weeks ago, this never happens – The Golden Rule of prepping for travel is: pack half as much, budget twice as much.

so, you have these assholes that don’t take into consideration a number of things:

 

– visa costs [your Australian friend might have breezed through the Bolivian border, but Americans have to pay a whopping $140

– drinking – there are no bigger a group of binge drinkers than those on holiday – namely the British – but no one has an excuse not to have one more.

– the ‘you’re not from here’ tax – this happened at the first of this trip to me numerous times in Mexico. bribes, fees, random costs that are never officially published, but you’re not going anywhere until you pay them.

– travel’s little surprises – this happens daily, sometimes two or three times. you might need wet wipes, you might need medicine, you might want to buy a t-shirt, you might be sick of the local food [in both senses of the word] and simply need a good bowl of pasta or whatever, you might meet a pretty girl and want to buy her an ice cream… whatever.

 

… I could go on-and-on about the hidden costs that pop up, but this article really isn’t about that either.

it’s about the stretchers.

so… these assholes have 100 days at 30 dollars a day cause they saved 3000 dollars. fantastic. 3 months abroad does more than 3 years in university – if done right.

but brother – you ain’t gonna last 3 months on 30 dollars a day. you just aren’t.

and here’s where you become an asshole to all of those around you – you’re still going to try.

case in point, through the Bank of America debacle [story coming soon], I was sitting in Cusco for 2 weeks. got to meet a few people each night in the pub [I don’t very much enjoy meeting travelers when there’s not beer around to numb their stories… or to enhance my own]. one night, a new guy joined us – you could already tell he fell somewhere in between a cheap and a stretcher, gladly accepting everyone else’s round, but dodging his own. this was enough for me to not invite him to dinner, but he was with a gal in our group who was super-cool and I didn’t want to mess up anything she had going. so off we went to our favorite restaurant for good wine and wood-fired pizza – best in town and $6 a pie. we sat, we ordered, but when the waiter came to him for his order, he announced that he would be ‘fine with the bread [free] and water [which he had brought with him].

so, lemme get this straight – he gladly joined us for dinner, damn near invited himself, only to mope around our fun dinner party, asking ‘how is it?’ when we made the noises one makes when tasting a good pizza. so – of course – with enough wine, even someone as judgmental as myself caves in and offers him a piece – we all did, and he gladly accepted.

now – before I go on, this wasn’t some Somalian kid who was making his way to a better life in America, this was a 30-something from Oregon. he was white, he spoke English, he was college-educated. basically, he was set for life. and was the last motherfucker to be a charity case for a group of people his own age.

but – when the bill came, he didn’t even have the decency to offer to throw in some money… even a dollar or two. all he could contribute to the bill was:

‘sorry guys, am on a budget’.

we all are, you fuck.

the difference is, when we saw that we could last 100 days at 30 a day, we decided to travel for 60.

we knew that no one can stick to a budget – unless it’s 200 a day.

we knew about travel’s little surprises and hidden costs – and your previous boasting at the pub about the places you’ve been to tells me you know as well.

but you chose to stretch it as far as you possibly could – most likely making your own trip as miserable as you made our dinner party.

I’ve been a few places, friends – and I say that not to boast, but to say I’ve done this a few times. and never-ever-ever have I been able to stay under my pre-set budget. ever. even in places like Southeast Asia. it just doesn’t happen.

to take what money you have and travel with it – my god, there’s nothing better you can do with your money…. but cut that trip in 1/3 and actually enjoy it.

we’ll talk more soon about the need to treat yourself once a week, to go fancy, to feel like a human again – but for now, just turn those 100 days into 60 and be able to afford actually renting a motorcycle in Ecuador, or a proper dinner in Paris. rent a campervan in Australia or splurge in the Gili Islands and buy a lobster the size of your forearm.

it’s travel, for fucksakes – it revolves around enjoying yourself and learning some new stuff.

which is hard to do when you’re peeking through the museum window.