Picking up from last Friday´s How to Pay For Two Years of Travel -- Part I.
When you have no choice but to pay for the night!
Sometimes, you´ll find yourself stuck and will have to pay by the night. There are always cheap options for this as well.
I have not yet visited a continent where you cannot find a hostel, although if you arrive too late in the day or during a particularly busy time -- such as Carnival in Central or South America -- you´ll be forced to turn to either camping out or a more expensive choice.
In France, Italy, Holland and just about every where else we stayed in Europe, we found we could trust in the quality of the places recommended by tourist offices, even if the prices seemed too good to be true. The owners are also willing to negotiate their prices if they have an empty room and someone in tourist information will do the negotiation for you. That's how we ended up at both La Beliere in Moustiers Sainte-Marie and La Matabone of Lourges. They were both new and thus empty at the height of tourist season. Both, I will add, were a bit out of the main tourist drag.
Wherever you are, don't be afraid to negotiate even if you're not fluent in the language. If nothing else, the negotiation gives you practice.
There's also the Etap chain - the cheapest of the Accor group of hotels found all over Europe. Cheap stay per night, includes breakfast, not luxury, but not bad at all, and you can usually get a room at the very last minute. Etap saved us from sleeping on the street more than one night.
Seek out advice from every possible place!
I consider this perhaps the most important thing you need to do. Start right now!
When we first decided to travel, we noticed that everyone and his mother had advice for us. We also found that many friends, family and even strangers had offers of places to stay, contacts in certain cities, and endless local insider information. It can be overwhelming and at times even unwanted.
Someone might mention a job or place to stay for free. Having contacts can also help you immeasurably if you show up somewhere looking for work. As an example: When we first discussed traveling to Buenos Aires -- approximately nine months before we finally arrived in Argentina -- Noah contacted an old professor of his from City College who we knew had contacts in South America. He ultimately connected us to the place we´re now staying and working in Salta. It was a slow process, but now that we´re here, we have community in Salta who has helped us immeasurably.
I keep a Word -- or whatever text editor you use -- file on my desktop where I type down any and all information people give me. I make sure to include the name of the country or city along with whatever information I´ve been given. I don´t worry too much about order or neatness. When I want to find something, I simply do a search in the file for the country or place name.
Talk to other travelers. In most places, there is a circuit. Wherever you are, there will be a stream of people coming from all directions and destinations. You ask them all about how busy things are, how cheap, what’s the best way to get around, good places to stay, then plan your next step accordingly.Otherwise, I would never have known that the guy selling chicken sandwiches out of a trailer on the main street in Bocas serves one of the best chicken sandwiches I've ever had (always get the Jumbo with piquante and cheese.) Or that when everyone thought Bocas had been destroyed by earthquakes and flooding, I was able to let a friend of mine who leads GAP tours know that Bocas was indeed fine and open for business.
Again, Couchsurfing is a wonderful source of this sort of travel tips. As are TripAdvisor, Matador Travel, Twitter and Yahoo Groups (although with Yahoo, the personal profiles are more limited, so you don't have as much on which to judge the person giving advice). On all, you can contact people directly or post in a larger group.
Get a job!
Teach English or another language you know. Check out Nomadic Matt’s five part series on how to make money by teaching.
Make and sell jewelry or other crafts.
Make and sell jewelry or other crafts.
Are you a musician, a dancer, a performer of any kind? Do you want to be? While perhaps this is a bad idea in places like Atlanta or New York, where street performing and vending are discouraged, there are plenty places in this world who not only tolerate but encourage busking.
Or you can apply for writing grants or art grants. You can start your own website. Sell your travel photography. Write for travel sites. Wait tables. Garden.Teach yoga or another skill of yours.
Brave New Traveler -- a section of Matador -- recently featured an article on 25 Ways To Earn Money When You're Broke On The Road with even more ideas.
Some last minute advice! It's all about your attitude!
You will be amazed at how open and giving people can be. Friends, family and perfect strangers have freely given advice, clothing, contacts, a place to stay or a meal. I, myself, try to be as giving. When we have a place of our own, we open our home, our table and our things for others.
My openness, however, has boundaries. There are always those who will take advantage, so you have to read, research and know what how much your willing to pay or give before agreeing to anything. That said, people have overwhelmingly helpful. We have had only one less than stellar experience, and that only involved the loss of some snorkel equipment and a towel.
Also remember that no one owes you anything, no matter what they promise. Don't bother getting yourself all worked up when someone offers help then doesn't deliver. Instead, be patient, focus on those people who do come through and then move on.
I suppose that´s exactly what I mean when I say we´re traveling one day at a time. Each day brings new surprises, enchantments and yes, even disappointments. You take them as they come. It´s character building, and that, I believe is the very crux of traveling.