When it comes to budget travel, you can kiss luxury and comfort good-bye. There have been times that I have slept in places that I never dreamed I would, before I started traveling. Last week I found myself sleeping on a hard seat of a second class, soviet era train, on a 14 hour ride through Romania, and that inspired this post called strange places I’ve slept on my travels.
1. A Subway restaurant in the Caracas, Venezuela airport. Venezuela has a huge inflation problem and everything is expensive. After wandering around the city for a day and not finding any cheap accommodation, I headed back to the airport hoping there would be a bench to sleep on. To my delight, many backpackers had the same idea, and had set up camp on the second floor where all the (now closed) restaurants were. The airport staff even directed me that way, indicating they were use to it. I laid out my sleeping bag and slept on the cold tile floor. Happy to have saved $50 a night!
2. On a roof of a guesthouse in Maputo, Mozambique. In Africa, there is a lot of times, an option to pitch your tent in the yard of a guesthouse for a cheaper price. This particular guesthouse had such an option so I took it. Little did I know that the “yard” was the hard cement roof. I, and other travelers, pitched our tents on the roof and made a little tent city and watched the NYE fireworks over the city.
3. In the luggage compartment of a bus in Cambodia. The international bus I booked from Thailand to Cambodia was full and they shouldn’t have sold me the ticket. But they did, and they wouldn’t give me a refund, so I crawled into the luggage compartment under the bus and sweated it out for the long journey. To be fair, it was probably the most comfortable seat on the bus!
4. On the top deck of a ferry going up the length of Lake Malawi. Instead of the third class, dark dungeon-like lower deck of the big Illala ferry, I rented a mattress for $2 and stretched out under the stars on the open, upper deck. It was amazing laying under the stars of Malawi for two nights, but I didn’t realize that the big smoke stacks were shooting out black soot, and in the morning I was covered. Still worth it though.
5. In a stairwell of a giant ferry from Sweden to Finland. I like boat rides, such as MSC Cruises, just as much as the next guy, but this wasn’t one of those. The Viking ferry was as huge as a cruise ship, and probably pretty nice in it’s day, but since I only paid for deck space and not a room, it wasn’t exactly high society There was no place to put my backpack and the only seating was in the ballroom which had a massive party going on. My only option, if I wanted to sleep on the 26 hour cruise, was to find a quiet spot and camp out. I found it in a cold stairwell between decks six and seven.
6. In an abandoned building on the Croatian coast. On my trip around the Balkans I got robbed in Croatia. (I know, Croatia isn’t in the Balkans). So with little to no money, I was forced to do some extreme budget traveling to get to Romania where I had hostel work. I had the bad luck to have it happen on Saturday, meaning that I would be hitchhiking on Sunday- the worst day to hitchhike. I didn’t get a ride all day and after a good 15 kilometer walk, had to look for a place to sleep. That came in the form of an abandoned 7 story building, and a very cold night. The good news is that the next day was Monday, and I got a ride in 5 minutes the next morning. Aaaaand that leads me to my next strange sleeping location-
7. In the back of a semi truck through the Croatian mountains. Continuing on from number 6 and my Croatian hitchhiking adventure, my first ride was a large semi truck. The only problem was that he wasn’t allowed to pick up hitchhikers. Normally he wouldn’t get caught, but we kept seeing his coworkers and other truckers on the road. So he got scared and convinced me to lay in the sleeper of his truck for the 12 hour ride. It turned out pretty comfortable, and I just had to trust that we were going the right way.
8. At a stripper training school in Luxembourg. On a totally separate European hitchhiking trip, I used Couchsurfing a ton. When I was leaving Belgium and going to Luxembourg City, I sent out some couch requests, and got back a strange reply. Basically the girl/host told me that I was welcome to stay with her, but that she was living at the gym that she owned. I was welcome to stay over, but I had to stay away until after the last class, since it was woman only. I was confused but accepted. When I finally arrived, I found it to be a pole and exotic dancing school. (she even showed me some of the more advanced moves, fully clothed). We set out the gym mats around the many stripper poles to sleep. It was one good experience.
9. In the back of a bus in Mozambique. I was taking a really long ride through Mozambique when we arrived at a small town after dark. There were only three passengers, and the driver was distraught that he couldn’t find more for the onward trip. He knew he would make money with more people, and he knew that there would be more people the next day, so he refused to go on that night. He even mentioned havnt night blindness as an excuse. He said we could all camp in the bus and he parked it in some dodgy lot in the outskirts of town. Besides running off drunks that were crawling in the broken or missing windows, and trying in vane to fight off the mosquito, it was a long night.
10. In a slug filled orange grove in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Continuing on from my Croatia saga, I ended up crashing in a huge orange grove. It was another long night, as I was constantly woken by snarling, barking packs of stray dogs, it was cold and rainy, and well, i was on hard dirt. When I woke in the morning me and all my stuff was covered in dozens of slugs. I got out of there fast…. Not before filling my bag with lots of good oranges though.
11. On a beach on Ko Tao island, Thailand. Very stupidly I chose not to book a room in advanced on the island, and just came over on the ferry on a whim. I searched all day but every hostel and guest house on the island was full. I ended up using my backpack as a pillow and crashing on the beach. I actually wasn’t too bad, except once when I went into the jungle to pick a pineapple and stirred a big bees nest. They chased me into the sea. All good times!
12. In a field in North Italy. In winter. Italy can be a holy frikin nightmare to hitchhike. For some reason Italians never like picking people up, and even if they did think about it, it seems that every car has 6 people in it. On top of that it is illegal to hitchhike NEAR a motor way. I can understand ON a motorway, but not NEAR one. So every time I got dropped off at a truck stop or petrol station FAR from the motorway or traffic, cops of petrol station employees would kick me out. With no other roads to the petrol station except the motorway, it was near impossible to leave without getting a ride… which was illegal. Stupid frikin laws. So one day I finally got caught out and was forced to sleep in the nearby field. And let me tell you, it was freezing. The next day I watched for cops and just asked everyone gassing up for a ride. I took the first one that said yes, not caring where. It was from an Austrian going home. I took it.