Curiosity Killed the Travel Budget
Sometimes turning a question into an experienced statement can be costly.
I don't have a per diem allowance that I set for myself, but that's not to say I don't keep a mental tally of how much I'm spending daily. The amount of money that's going out of my pocket is always at the forefront of my mind (and have written before on why it keeps creeping into my writings).
That being said, it's generally my objective to live as cheaply as possible, within my personal boundaries of comfort, reason, and physical safety (perhaps my constant eating of street food and drinking of the local water would fall under the last category). Generally speaking, I'm happiest if I'm spending less than US$10 per day. I'm concerned and cautious when I hit the US$15 mark, and unhappy if I'm dropping US$20 or more to live on a daily basis.
The problem—from a financial standpoint—is that I'm a furiously curious person, and love to learn more about the unknowns in my environment. Of my top four daily expenditures, food and transport are impacted by this the most.
It's on days when I'm alone and my curiosity demands are low, or perhaps the weather is inclement, that I see the spending hard deck—how little it takes to subsist in a place. Perhaps I'm spending most of my time in my room, reading or writing, and only eat a little food all day. I'm not using the Internet, going anywhere, or doing much of anything—although I'm perfectly happy and content. These types of days aren't uncommon, but they aren't the majority.
It's a double-edged sword for me, though. When I'm not stimulated enough, I move on; looking to a new town, country, or continent for more questions to discover and answer. Transportation costs money, and thus the problem emerges for a traveler who relocates quickly to satisfy such desires.
It's death by a thousand cuts, here in Bangkok. The big killer for me is the food; I'm utterly surrounded by new dishes and drinks never seen or experienced. I'm saturated in city smells that can make you wretch, or your mouth water. Oooo—I wonder what that tastes like. Ahhhh—that smells amazing. Hmmm—is that even edible?
Every question answered brings a new experience, and me closer to bankruptcy. But I continue to spend, because to experience the sensation of a new sensation is worth the expenditure, and at the heart of why I'm a nomad.