Want to see the world on a tight budget
A light backpack could be your best ally (Photo: iStock)

Xochiquetzal left Mexico three years ago and traveled in Asia for a whole year on a tight budget.

“The One Way Trip” was the title she gave to the plan she drew up for her personal quest. It all started because she didn’t feel comfortable with the way of life in Mexico City. She wanted to travel and get to know different cultures.

So, at just 22 years old, she started to design a traveling strategy that would allow her to get to know many countries and stay and eat in them for free.

“I didn’t travel to many countries, but I spent a long time in the places I visited. I was in Vietnam for four months, Thailand for three months, and Japan for two months,” adds Miriam Xochiquetzal Torres Moreno. Due to all of her experiences, Xochiquetzal Torres was invited by TEDx Talks to speak about how one can stop being a tourist and be more of a traveler.

“That’s the way I like to travel. It allows me to experience life and learn about people. I already had the idea of doing a workshop and also a book, but I thought it would be a better idea to start with the book,” says the entrepreneur.

After her year of traveling, this Mexican woman decided to make a stopover in Amposta, Spain, where she gave a TEDx Talk.

She began to write “Cómo emprender tu primer viaje” (How to set off on your first journey), and sent the manuscript to many publishers, but without success. However, convinced of the value of her work, she looked for a way to self-publish it and found that she could through Amazon. Today, a Kindle version of her book is available worldwide.

“The book is divided into two parts. In the first part, I teach you how to start your first trip from scratch, including choosing your destination. In the second, I tell you about my experiences during my trip to Asia: what I learned, how to finance your trip, what apps can save your life, essential things for your backpack, how to save on everything, and how to get free room and board. It’s a field guide for travelers,” says Xochi, as she likes to be called.

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Pandemic: time to plan

Like everyone else, Xochi is staying at home right now, grounded by lockdown measures for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic on her current stop of Amposta, where she has lived since 2019. “Now is not the time to travel, but it is the perfect time to plan your next trip and start saving,” says the traveler.

When we talk about travelers, we imagine people with enough money to go around the globe without a care in the world, but this is not the case.

“Leaving Mexico was a long and difficult process. In the end, going away means leaving everything behind. I had to sell some of my stuff to get more money and leave behind my family, my plans.”

Xochi made the trip with a budget of between 3,500 and 4,000 euros, which is between 80,000 and 90,000 pesos. That sum was enough for two people for the whole year, taking expenses into account. “We spent –approximately– 500 or 600 euros between the two of us a month, so putting together your plan is vital,” she says.

In the book, using her own experiences as an example, Xochi gives advice about how you can decide on a destination, do preliminary research on the currency, language, customs and beliefs, transportation, attractions, accommodation, food, visas and passports, security, and how to put together a savings plan that’s right for you.

“I wrote this book so that people would be encouraged to leave the place they live in and so that they would have all the tools they need. There are even sections for people who’ve never flown before. This book shows you that it’s not so difficult to travel and that you can put together the plan yourself, for less money.”

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Traveling light

Xochi toured Asia with a backpack that was small and comfortable. “When you go to another country, no one will be looking at your outfit. You already attract attention because you’re a foreigner. It’s more out of vanity that people take so many things,” explains the entrepreneur.

Traveling light will save you money on air, train, and bus fares and will also help you to not spend on things you don’t need, because even if you like them, they simply won’t fit in your backpack.

“Traveling light is the best thing you can do. It’s an exercise in detachment. It helps you to detach yourself from material things,” adds the author of the book “Cómo emprender tu primer viaje”.

Xochi has a 35-liter (7 or 8 kg) backpack, which contains two pairs of shorts, three blouses, a pair of jeans, thermal tights, a jacket and a raincoat, four bras and five pairs of underpants, one pair of sandals, as well as waterproof sneakers. “With these changes of clothes, I can be comfortable in any weather. I don’t need to pack more than that. In the book, I tell you what else you should have in your backpack.”

Can you make a living while traveling?

When you look at Xochi’s Instagram account, you undoubtedly wonder ‘what does she do for a living?’

“During my trip, I realized that many people were working while traveling around the world. That’s the benefit of technology. Most of them worked in the area of content creation, such as marketing or journalism.”

The book explains the best ways to earn money so you can travel, such as scholarships, volunteering, exchanges, or working online.

Another essential section is about the apps that will save your life. Here, the travel journalist makes a list of the ones she used to get free food and accommodation for months, Telegram groups to get cheaper flights, and many more tips for cheaper travel.

Xochi’s trip was based on the circular economy and sustainable tourism. “These are the best tools for soaking up the culture and getting to know the locals. When people welcome you into their homes, there’s no better way to experience a country,” says the author.

The Kindle version of the book “Cómo emprender tu primer viaje: el viaje de Xochi” (How to set off on your first journey: Xochi’s journey), is available on Amazon priced at 2 Euros, which is 46 Mexican Pesos. “It’s really important to me that my book is accessible to everyone. I’ll be giving a travelers’ workshop soon for those who use this guide to get to know the world or even their own country,” she says.