You’ll Pay The Price For Your Corner-Cutting Behaviour While Travelling

Caffeinated Thoughts
10 min readJun 14, 2023

Don’t cut corners if you want to have a smooth enjoyable travel experience.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Introduction

Reports say that global tourism has picked up by leaps and bounds ever since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and is slowly inching back towards pre-pandemic levels again. This means budget travellers from first world countries are coming back to Asia in droves all over again carrying their heavy backpacks, albeit with their laptops inside this time. Talk about revenge travel! I encountered dozens of foreign tourists who were on workation during my recent trip to Goa during April this year.

However, I often come across a cross section of travellers, be they local or international tourists, whose only goal is to be miserly and save as much money as possible on every activity they indulge in during their travels. They’re always on the lookout for a deal, whether while dining, travelling, or lodging, completely oblivious to the real price they’d have to pay for it later.

If you’re gonna be that stingy, why travel in the first place? If you’re looking to save mediocre sums of money on daily expenses while travelling, why not just stay at home and save 100% of it?

Needless to say, such cost cutting measures seldom work as they go against the very systems put in place for the safety and security of the traveller. Corner cutting misers ultimately end up getting the shorter end of the stick wherever they go — whether it is getting assaulted, sick from food poisoning, robbed, pickpocketed, or ending up in desolate unsafe areas miles away from their actual destination — all because they chose to take the cheapest option available.

You think you’re saving money by cutting corners. But you’re always unassumingly paying the price in discreet, less noticeable ways. Corner cutters usually end up losing more than double of what they tried to save because of their miserly attitude towards travel.

You’ll pay a heavy price for cutting corners on things you can clearly afford to spend money on. You wouldn’t be travelling if you couldn’t afford those things in the first place.

Here are some ways you could pay a heavy price for cutting corners while travelling:

Staying at shady hotels and dirt cheap lodge rooms

Bed bugs, torn and tattered bed sheets, non-functional geysers, faulty taps and fittings, broken furniture, and unresponsive, inhospitable staff are some of the ways you’ll pay the price for staying at dingy lodges and shady hotels.

When you aren’t willing to shell out a decent sum on good quality accomodation, you’re bound to run into some really nasty surprises at the less than ideal places you end up staying at. Most often, the cheapest hotels and lodge rooms are found in the most decrepit, unsafe, and dilapidated areas of a city.

You wouldn’t even be venturing into such shady areas if you lived in that city yourself. Such areas are not just unsafe for women. They’re unsafe for everyone.

It’s unfortunate that tourists have to find this out the hard way by cutting corners, rather than shelling out the right amount of money to stay at a reputed hotel located in a decent area of the city.

Not hiring a tour or trek guide

Being defiant about being your own tour guide and overestimating your ability to navigate a new place all by yourself is the oldest trick in the budget backpackers corner-cutting playbook.

Then, when they encounter a physically or mentally challenging obstacle during their journey, they’ll cry out loud for the police to step in and save them. This is extremely typical of budget backpackers touring developing countries. They’ll get into the poorest, most dilapidated areas of the city that’s overflowing with poverty, crime, and destitution, walk around with their expensive clothes, camera, and equipment, and then expect to be treated like equals.

These areas are so unsafe, no self-respecting upper middle-class local residing there all their lives would dare to venture into themselves.

They’ll defiantly tour a place all on their own without spending money on tour guides assuming their handheld instruments can do everything for them. Then when their instruments fail and they go missing or get mugged, they’ll shed crocodile tears (or post videos on YouTube) about how unfairly they’ve been treated and how unfair the world is to them.

Don’t be that person. Hire a tour or trek guide whenever you’re in unfamiliar territory. They probably know their way around the city like the back of their hands, and know exactly which areas to visit and which ones to avoid.

Eating unhygienic street food and dining at fast food joints to save money

Eating at the cheapest joints available on a backpacking trip or whilst on vacation will cost you dearly in the form of lost days and medical bills.

I experienced this first hand during my recent trip to Goa, a global holiday destination in South India. I was on an 8-day tour to the state and was forced to eat out for most part of the trip. I had access to a plethora of health food restaurants where I was living, but still chose to dine at less healthier joints as they were cheaper.

Inspite of having all the health food restaurants a walking distance from my hostel, I ate masala-laden spicy food drowning in oil at cheaper restaurants, and paid the price dearly. Two full days that could be spent travelling and sightseeing were wasted on a hostel bed recuperating from an intense dry cough that had developed from eating oily parathas and spicy curries every single day.

I cut corners and I paid the price dearly. Half my itinerary was washed away due to these unexpected rest days and I had to skip certain tourist attractions because of this. Due to my stinginess, I not only missed visiting the most spectacular tourist sites, but also spent the day doing absolutely nothing while recuperating inside my dorm room. If I was boarding at a friends or relatives place while travelling, this could have been totally excusable as I would be paying absolutely nothing to just to lie in bed all day long. But I was staying at a hostel. And while staying outside, every minute is worth hundreds of rupees. You do not want to spend precious days resting and recovering from an illness, one that was perfectly avoidable had you been a bit more thoughtful and discerning in the first place.

Like

says in one of her recent articles,

“Travel is bad for your health.
You travel, you get sick. It’s the nature of the beast. Different food, different bugs in the water. Trips and scrapes as you navigate terrains you’re not used to, from hiking mountains to uneven city center pavements.

Alas, I’ve never had more need to visit pharmacies, doctors, and even hospitals than when I’ve been on the road. I have mimed the international gesture for sickness and diarrhea more times than I care to count.”

The least you can do to avoid getting sick and thrown off the road while backpacking or travelling is dining only at high quality restaurants that don’t compromise on safety, health, and hygiene while cooking or handling their food. Don’t ruin a perfectly good holiday by eating at smaller cafeterias on the road just to save money. Street food and small joints are all glamourized on social media to make the owner money. But you’re the one who’s ultimately going to pay the price by eating their food every single day.

That food is entertainment food. It’s not meant to be lived off of.

When you get sick, you’ll end up spending more on medication, treatment, and lodging than if you only stuck to high quality restaurants in the first place. The double whammy of the mental and physical stress of enduring a painful experience plus the days lost will put a spanner in the works of a well planned holiday and will ruin your entire experience.

Travelling on mass transit in developing countries when there’s a much more convenient option available

Travelling on public transport as a tourist, especially one that doesn’t resemble the locals might look cute and Instagrammable. But it is nothing more than an ostentatious display of your wealth and a pretentious way of announcing it to the locals. Why? Because most of those people might never take an international vacation in their lives.

Looking out of the ordinary on local public transport in a cheaper developing country is nothing to be proud of. In fact, you’re depriving someone who desperately needs that seat a 100 times more than you, someone who is most likely a wage slave or working in an exploitative business on the way to their slave workplace that barely lets them rest during the day. You could have instead saved yourself the hassle of travelling on a crowded stuffy local bus and booked a cab to your hotel or tourist attraction in air-conditioned comfort and safety, something you can clearly afford. Instead you chose to rub shoulders with survivors of the daily grind on public transport and then make a big deal about it when you get pushed, groped, and shoved around.

I’m not saying you can’t travel on public transport in developing countries. You’re free to travel however you want. There’s usually a wide array of public transport available in developing countries like buses, suburban trains, trams, metros, and autorickshaws.

Just don’t make a big deal about it when you’re pickpocketed on a bus or pushed around on a packed local train.

You chose the hustler life, remember?

Hitchhiking, using private buses and unofficial taxis

In my city, call center cab drivers and drivers of company buses work as private taxis when they’re off duty to make a quick buck for themselves. They are cheaper than public transport and travelling by them is more comfortable since they’re usually smaller buses or cars. However, unscrupulous and anti-social elements have taken advantage of this system by posing as private taxi operators and mugging innocent hitchhikers on the pretext of dropping them to their destinations.

Since they know that innocent commuters are out on the look for a cheaper, more comfortable ride to their destination, they trick them by placing their accomplices in their vehicle masquerading as passengers. When an unsuspecting stranger takes the bait and gets into the vehicle, they drive off to a desolate area of the city to assault them and relieve them of their valuables. Dozens of such incidents have taken place in my city where unsuspecting individuals unaware of the motives of these unscrupulous elements have got into private taxis assuming them to be real taxi drivers. Instead they were beaten up, robbed, and forced to divulge their ATM pin codes so that the thieves could make off with as much money as possible before dumping them on the roadside at the end of their ordeal.

Needless to say, its unsafe to get into private vehicles plying as unofficial taxis wherever you are in the world.

Since the vehicle isn’t an official taxi, you have no means of accessing the vehicles number or the driver’s personal details (which would be crucial pieces of information to have in case of an emergency), which is usually found on the vehicle registration card pasted behind the front seat and on the front dashboard as mandated by law on all official taxis, buses, and autorickshaws. Moreover, you have absolutely no means of knowing the intentions of the driver, or whether the rest of the passengers who boarded the vehicle are genuine rides or are accomplices of the criminal driver who are about to loot you.

Save yourself the horror of becoming the criminals next victim. Use only government approved transport services to get to your destination.

Conclusion

Sure there’s freedom, and “democracy” and human rights and all of those amazing things. But they look good only on paper. The ground realities are vastly different. No one likes a cheap little schmuck who’s looking to cut corners wherever he/she goes. Most tourist attractions have certain systems in place specifically for the safety, security, and comfort of tourists. Imagine how bad it looks when a tourist chooses the cheapest (and often unsafe) option when the government has gone the extra mile to provide them with better tourist infrastructure and facilities?

In fact, even local law enforcement won’t take you seriously when they get to know what a miserly person you are. Don’t be that person. Sure they will serve you and attend to your complaint on priority. But they’ll do it begrudgingly and won’t hold you to the highest regard. You’re also spoiling your country’s image by the way.

Take a look at this video as an example:

This is a perfect example of everything I’ve tried to highlight in this article.

Everyone knows that Mr Bald can afford a boat ride to the hotel. Yet, he shuns the boat for an adventurous swim in the lake, something the management is clearly not happy about. He might be doing it for the YouTube views, the hype and publicity it will elicit in the media about him, or whatever.

But as far as the hotel staff are concerned, he’s being a cheap little schmuck who wants to cut corners on a boat ride to a hotel. There’s a reason there’s a fancy boat ride to the hotel. A hotel has got to maintain its standards and has got an image to maintain in front of its guests (especially a hotel labelled “India’s most expensive hotel”). It’s going to look extremely bad on hotel management if a bunch of guests try to go swimming to the hotel, when all the others are taking the complementary boat service, isn’t it?

Its the equivalent of walking from your hotel to the Burj Khalifa in the scorching Dubai sun, arriving at the mall smelly, dirty, completely drenched in sweat, and wondering why everyone’s looking at you funny. As I said before, everyone has the right to do whatever they want, and all that personal rights jazz. But so do institutions and tourist attractions. If you have a personal right to use the cheapest means of transport or walk (or swim) to a tourist attraction arriving there looking disheveled, greasy, and reeking of sweat, they too have the right to decline you entry to their premises.

They have standards to maintain. And when you’re being a corner-cutting cheapskate, you clearly don’t fit within those standards now do you?

How much lower can one stoop down to?

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Caffeinated Thoughts

No niche in particular. I am a keen observer of society and gain my inspiration for new articles from observation.