August 27, 2010

Planning a Getaway on the Cheap

Planning a 3 month excursion in a foreign country takes a lot of energy, research, patience, and mind-space. I’ve been planning this trip in my mind for over a year. I had a list of “Things to do before I turn 30” (everyone makes those lists right?) and visiting Japan and Asia was on the top of that list. Thirty came and went and I stayed put in Los Angeles. The time wasn’t right and the funds were not there to take such a trip. So I planned to go in May before my 31st birthday. I heard it was beautiful that time of year in Japan with the cherry blossoms blooming and the weather ideal. My best friend sprung on me the news that she was getting married in June or July and wanted me to be a bridesmaid. Of course, I wanted to be part of this special day for her, so I pushed the trip back to the Fall.

The first thing I did to start planning was to decide where I wanted to go, for how long, and how much money I needed. I knew I wanted to spend as little as possible but didn’t want to go completely ghetto style. I figured 3 months would be a good amount of time to see many things and not be gone away from home and my business for too long. The money calculation was more tricky. I talked with many friends that traveled around Southeast Asia for very little money, One said she made it 3 months on $1,000! I realized I wanted to be more comfortable than that so I figured it’s better to start out with more money and bring some back home, then not have enough and come back with zilch. I opted for $3,000 but I know I’m not going to need that much. I like having padding though, because you never know what kind of adventures are in store for me.

I did some research and decided to sign-up for WWOOF in Japan. That stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. It’s an amazing organization that can be found in almost every country in the world. You connect with farms and they give you room and board for 6 hours of work on their farm per day. How cool is that?! I completed the Master Gardener program here in LA two years ago and I’ve been gardening for about 6 years, so the WWOOF program was right up my alley. And it’s a great way to travel the country for really cheap. I also planned on going to the protests in Taiji, but they were canceled due to the right-wing Japanese nationalists being violent and too much danger involved.

The second thing I signed up for was Couch Surfing. Turns out there is a huge network of couches to be surfed all over the world. The site is reliable and safe, so I thought what the heck. A great way to save money, meet locals or other Americans staying in foreign countries who will show me around and make me feel at home. This was very appealing to me since I will be traveling alone. I decided I would go to Thailand and around SEA for the last 2 months and those places don’t have much in the way of hostels per se, but tons of cheap accommodations. I already connected with some great people who I will be staying with during my trip. I’s such a relief to know I have a nice, safe place to stay!

Granted this isn’t the way that many people who have more money would travel. But for those of you who want a great, adventurous experience on the cheap WWOOFing and Couch Surfing is the way to go!

Please follow along with me and my adventures by subscribing to my blog. I’ll be posting updates, restaurant reviews, and travel tips and stories from all my amazing experiences. Farm stays, Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, volunteering at the Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, temples and meditation, and taking vegan cooking classes are all on the agenda!

Have you been to Japan or Southeast Asia? Any tips or recommendations on how to travel cheap that you want to share with us?

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Christy Morgan  |  Contribution: 700