Discount state of mind, Indonesia

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Sometimes when traveling I feel like during business meetings in Warsaw. With clients we discuss how to break out with an attribute other than price, because the consumers are most anxious about things being as cheap as possible. And while traveling, often an innocent discussion about the charms of individual places transforms into a bidding – who and where paid the least, what is the smallest amount one can survive on in what country.I am not a backpacker type. I have never been. Even when I was a student and didn’t have any money at all – I wasn’t. Because being a backpacker is rather a state of mind than a state of one’s pocket. And there is nothing wrong or good in this – only my way of travel is a bit different. I love indulging into a given country, in its culture, instead of wasting time to search for cheaper and cheaper option. I would not be getting a medal for it, after all.
I don’t take food with me, either. Unless it’s my favourite snacks – but this is due to gluttony, not savings. When I go diving, I am not taking beer from the “continent”, because it’s much cheaper (never mind it’s warm). Of course, I would not take beer, because I don’t drink it, but I would not take any other alcohol, either.
-You lived in a hotel for 15 dollars? Are you crazy? We only paid 10!
-10? Ha! I only paid 7!
Sometimes I allow myself to get involved and my Ukrainian nature speaks out: maybe I really hugely overpaid, I already feel stressed that I didn’t check, that I made a wrong choice. But then I bring myself back to Earth and think that one can also sleep on a bench – for free. Or, like one of the Dutch people I met, at the police station or in the mosque – “safe and warm”. Besides, I remind myself that we are discussing the difference of 25 PLN!
Further discussion shows the same as my discussions in Warsaw – when we consider things in terms of other attributes – not only the price matters. There is a reason why people “overpay”.
-13 dollars – well, really very cheap. Your hotel is also right next to the beach?
-No, but only 25-30 minutes’ walk.
35 degrees, huge humidity. I love walks, but a lot less in such conditions and when I have no choice.
-Do you have warm water?
-No, but I rarely bathe, so no problem.
If it comes to hygiene, everyone has their own habits. But I like bathing.
For 7 dollars the situation looks even more different – with six other people (“but only two snored – besides that it was cool”), the shower can be accessed either before 7 or after 10 (“but after ten there may not be enough water”), there’s no window (“but we have a night lamp, so it’s cool”), and so on…
There are those who have more time than money and therefore are able to find hotels for 5 dollars and food for half a dollar. Great! I also am a supporter of the idea that one should never live beyond their means. But…
But… the most important thing in this discussion is, however, the fact that both of these people could afford MUCH better hotels. The German and the Dutch. One of them – the director of the branch of a bank, the second – a stockbroker. They did not want to experience the journey in the most natural way and through the physical inconvenience reset their minds. They gave in to the discount obsession. Not because they couldn’t afford better. Not because they like survival. The fact that somewhere else it is more expensive to them means an attempt of extortion. Own comfort and pleasure are not as important as ensuring that no one will pull a scam over them.
I do not want to sleep with strangers in the same room, I don’t want to be in a room without a window and I don’t like sleeping in sheets of unidentified colour. I don’t want to beat the records for the cheapest travel.
As the Dutchman told me: “I don’t work to overpay”.
I am against the rule of keeping up with the Joneses, but I equally don’t agree with the discount state of mind. I do not want to submit to the obsession of discounts in every area of my life. I do not work to save the most I can, but in order for my life to be of better quality. Defining overpaying as choosing the more expensive option rather than the cheapest possible one is bringing life to basic survival, deprived of pleasure and convenience.
Of course, one can do cheap and then even cheaper – but the question is what for? Is it because you cannot afford a better choice? Or just for the principle of things?
Not many hotels are ideal. But I made the decision that the sound of the waves is the priority for me, so when I choose where I am to sleep, this is a more important thing for me than, for instance, the distance from the centre. The hotel with such view cost 60 PLN for a room with two bedrooms. I swallowed this overpayment. 🙂

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