I have heard of Couchsurfing a long time ago, but I wasn’t so bold so I have never tried it. As I knew more about Couchsurfing, I found it an….
A well-known song expresses many travel-dreamers’ complaints, “I want to travel to Guilin, but when I have the money, I don’t have the time; I want to travel to Guilin, but when I have the time, I don’t have the money.” Travel requires time and expenditure on traffic, accommodation, food, scenic spot tickets, and so on. People’s obsession with travel bears a new travel form– budget travel. The first website about budget travel was created by a Chinese overseas student in Germany, Yi Xiao, in 2004.
Budget travelers travel with minimum cost so it solves the problems for people who don’t have enough money to travel. Instead of taking an expensive plane, they would rather ride a train, go on foot, or hitchhike.
Instead of staying in a luxurious hotel, they would rather camp outdoors, or stay in public places like gas station, waiting hall, or vestibule of a 24-hours bank, etc. Budget travel is regarded as the least costly way of travel in the world.
But budget travel is not always a wise choice for travelers. It can put their lives in jeopardy. And if money keeps besetting them, they will be distracted from landscapes on the road. Furthermore, budget travel is of high instability. Time doesn’t obediently run by the schedule so that running out of time is often inevitable. Sometimes, in order to minimize the expanses, budget travelers are prone to be reckless, disobeying laws and regulations.
Budget travel is not safe, much more perilous than many other forms of travel. Plenty of underlying hazards hide in its thrifty traveling methods, such as hitchhiking, couchsurfing, and so on. Hitchhiking is a typical pattern of budget travel. A hitchhiker stands on the roadside, reaches out his arm, and gives a thumbs- up sign. He is not sure which car will stop or who the driver will be. Last year, a college girl, Ying Wei was killed by a motor driver when she was traveling to Yunnan Province. Investigation later showed that the driver pretended to offer her a free ride and tried to rob her. A budget traveler is risking his life during hitchhiking. When he realizes the danger, it’s already too late to regret. Couchsurfing is also a popular choice for budget travelers.
A couchsurfer can ask other couchsurfers for free lodging during his journey. The access to be a couchsurfer is comparatively strict, for detailed information of applicants is required. Nevertheless, it can not exclude the potential danger that some evildoers may creep in. In March 2009, a 29-year-old woman from Hong Kong was raped twice when she traveled to Leeds, England by a Moroccan man named Abdelali Nachet who invited her to couchsurf in his house.
A couchsurfer can save a big chunk of accommodation fee, make friends with strangers and better experience the local culture. However, living in a stranger’s house is much riskier than in an ordinary hotel. Some other alternatives are also full of risk. For example, instead of a qualified restaurant, a budget traveler would rather dine in a humble food stand with no guarantee of cleanliness. Safety should always be the prerequisite. If the money he saves will threaten his safety or even claim his life, he’d better be shrewd. Budget travel save plentiful expenses, but it may at the same time constitutes potential danger.
For travelers, travel per se is to enjoy themselves. Travel relaxes them, freeing them from the heavy burden of the fast-paced society; Travel obsesses them, dazzling them with the most breathtaking landscape on earth; Travel enriches them, introducing them to the mysterious life in a faraway corner. But budget travel may reversely burden them. Imagine that they calculate every meal’s cost, walk a long way to save 3-dollar’s car fare, leave no stone unturned to dodge an entrance ticket, or wait on a desolate highway thumbing for a free ride which may never come. Can they feel a glimmer of delight? The tour is more like a trail rather than a treat. Besides, they sometimes have to miss what’s worth experiencing. For example, an attraction is extremely gorgeous, however it can’t be admired for its high admission fee; a local cuisine is extremely memorable, but it can’t be tasted for its high price.
If so, travel loses its meaning. Budget travelers usually have to carry a backpack loaded with all the stuff. It’s exceedingly inconvenient to travel with heavy luggage. After having walked two miles, they will be exhausted, not in any mood to enjoy the fabulous scenery. A girl named Shirley budget-traveled to Mount Taibai in 2000. She didn’t order a hotel so she had to take 40-pound luggage all route, including tent, sleeping bag, outdoor stove, water, solid food and clothes. Shirley described the journey was challenging but meaningful. For those who want to relax themselves during a holiday, this way of travel should not be recommended. Budget travel allows those who are short of money to fulfill their desire for travel. They spend less money and but achieve less fun.
Budget travel is not bound by time in a way, because a budget travel can decide his timetable all by himself, like when to leave or how many days he’s going to stay. But it’s still restrained by many other unexpected factors. For example, many budget travels look for cheap flights online. Their departure is entirely decided by when they luckily grab the cheap tickets. To minimize the expenses, their time is deeply influenced by all kinds of saving methods. Self-arrangement also portends that they don’t have a savvy organizer to help them schedule their route. Budget travel is so unpredictable that time doesn’t obediently run by the schedule. Many an unforeseen problem may protract your smooth plan. Thus, money will not be the only concern. They also need to worry about how much time left.
Recently, two college girls who spent 2000 yuan vacationing in 10 provinces in China were in the spotlight. Their preplanned 1 month’s worth of journey took them 79 days to fulfill, for they have to stop at intervals to run a stall-stand for maintenance. Not everyone has that much extra time. Moreover, a great deal of precious time may be wasted on meaningless things, like hitchhikers’ endless wait, especially when luck is not on their side. When I visited Angkor Wat, a zealous native revealed a valued secret to me.
The gate ticket costs 20 dollars, but at night, there will be no guard at the gate. I can sneak in as darkness shrouds the historical site, and then spent the whole eerily night longing for the sunrise. Unless I’m crazy about thrilling explorations, I will not find any laudableness in this clever tip. I would lose entire night when I could have haggled furiously in the hustle and bustle of a night fair or been enchanted by the liquid stillness of the nocturne. Time is priceless. It’s unwise to waste time on money-saving. Budget travel solves the money problem. It meanwhile deteriorates the time problem.
Budget travel could be illegal under some circumstances. Budget travel indeed provides a chance for the poor, or those who haven’t had the ability to earn money, like students. But things could go to extremes sometimes, especially for those in dire need. There are numerous websites designed for budget travelers, like Qyer.com, go2cn.com, where abundant tricks to save money are shared. Some of them raise ethical questions on the part of the public. Such as ticket evaders slip in the train and wait in the washroom when the train conductor is checking tickets; Working people use student card to buy discount tickets; Sneakers climb over the wall to escape entrance fees. These furtive travelers may be caught cheating and feel ashamed and guilty for their unethical behaviors. Budget travel is designed to help people enjoy traveling, but it’s not worthwhile if they risk taking illegal actions.
Budget travel enjoys worldwide popularity nowadays. Its privileges of low price, relaxing pleasure, flexible arrangement, and heightened abilities attract increasing number of people. The new tide goes viral among the less affluent group, especially the young. Besides, it’s also a feasible alternative for those who don’t worry about money. As far as they’re concerned, budget travel has nothing to do with money. They are just questing for the most economical way to “ budget” all over the world. But don’t be deceived by its physical beauty. The low price can lead to costly losses; Relaxing pleasure can turn into heavy load; Flexible arrangement can change into strangled deadline; Heightened abilities can result in fallen irregularities. A budget travel can be risky sometimes.