Travelling with no regrets; budget v experience

Whether you’re a budget backpacker or just on a cheap holiday, money is often in the back of your mind and you wonder whether you can treat yourself to an expensive meal to celebrate a birthday or spend a little more on a specific day out to do something you’ve always wanted.  It’s that age-old budget v experience argument.

The big question isn’t:
Should I blow a bit of my budget on an experience?

The big question is:
Isn’t travelling all about experiences?

My philosophy of travel, when it comes to paying out is this:
What if you never get back to that country/place and you’re then full of ‘shoulda, woulda, couldas’?

Whilst money may be tight in the sense that you can’t afford ‘luxury’ accommodation, travelling with next to no money and living off noodles from the supermarket doesn’t allow you to explore other sides of your destination.

If I hadn’t have ‘splashed the cash’ in Thailand (all £1000 of it), I never would have had learnt to dive and gone on the last boat of the season around the Similan Islands to spend my days amongst turtles and Manta Rays, discovering what it feels like to be so happy you cry underwater.  I spent a lot of money but the experience and memories I got from it are immeasurable!

Manta Ray!!

Some peoples budget are tighter than others but everyone has that ‘special something’ that they’ve always dreamt of doing. Maybe it’s learning to dive or eating in an expensive restaurant with a view to die for. We all have an ‘achilles heel’ of travelling and most of us have pretty big bucket lists so when you budget for your travels, make sure that you budget enough for any amazing opportunities you know you’re going to come across.

You have to decide what’s important to you on your travels.  If there is something that you’ve always wanted to do and it costs a bit more than you’re comfortable with, ask yourself this: Would I be full of regret if I never got back to this place and didn’t do what I had wanted?  If the answer is yes then hand over that cash or plastic and have yourself the time of your life!

When I was in Tanzania, I had the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti at dawn.  It cost me $500 (way over-priced considering how cheaply you can get them in other countries) and I wasn’t overwhelmed with it after but at LEAST I DID IT.  I would have been FULL of regret if the other people in our group had come back and said what a magical trip they’d had and I hadn’t taken the opportunity that was right there in front of me.  I spent over £1000 that I didn’t NEED to in Africa but I spent it all on FUN things and I don’t regret a single one of them for a minute because they added to the experience of a lifetime and I have brought back so many amazing memories because of them!

Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t get yourself in debt.  I had a loose budget for my African adventure because I knew I was coming back to fully paid employment and would be able to pay off any credit card debts quickly but even then, you have to weigh it all up.  Is your activity worth a couple of months of living cheaply?  Can you afford ‘luxury’ accommodation? Or would you regret it the moment you had paid for it?

If the answer is yes it’s worth it and you won’t regret it then open your wallet because despite the experience costing the money, the memories you will have will far outweigh what you ever paid for it!


What experiences have you splashed your cash on that made you happy you opened your wallet?

Leave a Reply


  1. Traveling, and life for that matter, is all about experiences. I’m willing to spend (almost) any amount of money to do what I want while I’m on the road.

  2. I agree with ya, Toni! It’s sensible to make sacrifices when it comes to food and accommodation, but those experiences are priceless, and life’s too short for the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s. make the most of your hard work while you’re there and live it up I say!

  3. Loving this post, hun! Luckily I’m pretty easy to please so there’s very rarely an occasion where I feel the need to splash a huge amount of cash while travelling. A nice meal will always do me, or a hotel as opposed to a hostel every once in a while (power showers! my own room! soft beds!)

    You should never finish a trip with regrets (unless it’s due to something totally unavoidable) – we only live once!

  4. Agreed! Some of my most astounding travel memories are from the things that required me to fork over way more than what I’d budgeted for–but I don’t regret a single instance of paying a chunk of change for an incredible experience. I’d just say it’s important to do a lot of research and make sure it’s with a good company and is exactly the kind of experience you’re looking for. That manta ray looks so cool!

  5. Izy – aww thank you lovely; means a lot that you took the time out to say it 🙂

  6. Drew – I couldn’t agree more! Whilst I might wince at a price, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth paying 🙂

  7. Kate – Preach it sister! 😀

  8. Tom – A nice meal or hotel once in a while is a perfect thing to splash the cash on; we all deserve treats 🙂 You’re right, we only live once so should make the most of it!

  9. Kaleena – I think you’ve hit the spot…you forked over a lot of money but you don’t regret it and that’s the key! I definitely think that research is the key because you want to make sure that your money is going to equal quality etc. I researched my dive trip a lot and obviously picked the right one with the amount of rays I saw 🙂 Glad to hear I’m not the only one that spends out for experiences!