Student Life

Why I always have a travel budget

A close call in Vietnam taught me why having a budget and emergency fund matters.

Jan 11, 2016

Truthfully, I’ve never been much of a budgeter, but these days when I travel I make a conscious effort to have a solid budget and an emergency fund just in case. I used to be that spontaneous, carefree traveler you’d see and think: “how does she not die or get injured!?”

The reality is I’ve gotten injured and probably even could have died a couple times during my travels. I think it comes down to the fact that I have really, really, really, good friends and a whole lot of luck that I’m still here today.

That time I almost died in Vietnam

Case in point: my first major trip was South East Asia—I was super excited and booked my flight just a few weeks before I left. My budget was small because I was a full time student the previous semester and had spent most of my summer savings on tuition and books. I’d be fine though, it’s super cheap to travel around that part of the world … right? Wrong.

For someone who loves shopping, Asia is the best and worst place to visit. I could talk myself into buying anything because it was so cheap and I’d never find it anywhere else!

When I was about half way through my trip the group I was with decided to travel to a remote mountain town. I didn’t have much money left at this point so my friend and I decided to pay for a cheap motorcycle ride instead of a bus or van to get there. On the road my driver lost control of the motorcycle and the bike went one way, while we went the other.

Once the momentum stopped I laid on the asphalt for what felt like eternity attempting to wrap my head around the fact that I was lying face down on the concrete. I was in shock. Despite the fact that the driver acted as a human shield as we slid across the asphalt, I still ended up with major road rash to almost the entire right side of my body. You can read allll about it in my post "B&E's and Road Rash in Vietnam."

I couldn't afford to go to a hospital

What was I to do? I wasn’t at home in Canada, which meant a hospital visit wouldn’t be free, and I simply didn’t have the money for a hospital bill. Instead I chose to purchase some rubbing alcohol—or, what I was pretty sure was rubbing alcohol—gauze, and medical tape from the local pharmacy to tend to my wounds back at the wooden hut I was staying in.

My friend and I spent the good part of two hours sharing a leather belt to bite while we cleaned out each other’s wounds with straight rubbing alcohol and using tweezers to pull out the pieces of road that had embedded into our flesh. Not the smartest move, I know, but what choice did I have? I was broke, eating street food and doing everything on the cheap to try to make my trip last as long as possible!

I learned some painful lessons

When I finally got home to Canada my scar wasn’t quite healing properly and my right leg still hurt. I finally went to the doctor and boy was I surprised; I still had a rock embedded in my hip and a fractured shin—whoops!

So, lessons learned from this experience: first, always try to have a little emergency fund because you never know what might happen; and second, always check what your travel insurance will cover, especially before you travel to a remote village with no Wi-Fi.

You literally never know what life will throw at you; a good budget might just prevent an accident from turning into a disaster.


MacEwan University

I'm almost done my degree and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up but that's okay!

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