Expert's Advice: Budget Travel - Interview With Norbert Figueroa

28 Apr 2015 by Olga Brighton

Travel Information

Meet our travel expert Norbert, the owner of GloboTreks Travels blog. He is an educated traveller who always wanted to see the world and experience different cultures firsthand. After finishing his Masters in Architecture and doing a trip to Thailand, Norbert decided to start exploring the world with his backpack and his thirst for adventure. We've asked Norbert to share his insight on travelling non-stop and making dreams come true.

Norbert, we must admit your blog is captivating indeed. There is so much of your experience and wisdom. Blogging must be very helpful in expressing what you learn from the trips, right?

- Thank you! Definitely, it’s been my platform to share my experiences, thoughts, and quirky things about the world. The blog originally started as a way to share my trips and tips with friends and family, but in time it grew and became an important influencer of the way I travel now.

What was the trip or a particular moment that made you realize you were meant to become a traveller?

Norbert Figueroa in Thailand

I believe I have two “aha!” moments. The first one was in 2003 when I visited Europe for the first time. I was inside Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, admiring what was then an unfinished nave with half built columns and barely any ceiling. I saw how wonderful that space was that I promised myself to keep traveling to see equally interesting architecture all around the world. The second moment was when I backpacked for the first time to Thailand in 2008. That first backpacking trip made me realize that was the travel style I enjoyed the most, which in turn defined the “niche” of rest of my travels.

What is the cheapest yet the most valuable experience you get when travelling?

Couchsurfing is probably the cheapest (actually free) experience yet it is one of the most insightful ones when it comes to learn about a different culture and experience the destination like a local. I actually wrote about a couchsurfing experience I had in Brunei, one of the least visited countries in the world with one of the strictest and most conservative monarchies you can find these days.

What are the key factors helping you to choose the next travel destination?

Norbert Figueroa in Australia

There are several, but more often than not is the cost of reaching the destination. Sometimes it is based on logic, as in jumping between neighbouring countries, or sometimes it is based on travel hacker deals on airfares that might take me to the other side of the world for just a fraction of the price. Another factor I use to visit destinations is what they have to offer. If there’s something I really want to do or see, I’ll probably make it there sooner or later!

Norbert, as a person who has been to 87 countries please share the greatest and maybe even life-changing lessons you’ve learnt.

Hmmm, this one is hard to narrow down. Maybe it’s not so much about a life-changing lesson, but more about learning about the world and growing as a person. I’ve seen that there’s good people everywhere in the world; even in places we’ve been “told” to see as “intolerant and evil.” Don’t judge countries based on the news and media; they never tell you the whole story. And often, what they show, is the worst part. If you were to form your opinion about a place, do so after experiencing it in person. Other than that, I think this many posts on my blog might be a good to see other lessons I’ve learned on the road for the past 1,000+ days of travel!

Do you have a set of rules to travel safe?

Norbert Figueroa in Bali

I don’t have a “set of rules,” but I always try to go with my intuition and common sense. Though there might be a safety common ground all around the world, your “safety sense intensity” does/might vary according to the destination. For example, in Norway I feel completely safe walking with my iPhone in hand, but in Brazil, I fear constantly of getting robbed. It’s the current status and all we can do is be aware of how a destination is, safety wise, and apply our own common sense to avoid any bad experience. Still, I guess it’s better to err on the safe side.

Coming back to our main topic, what are the pros of budget travelling?

- You become more creative and resourceful since you always try to achieve things with the lowest cost possible or within a specific budget. And of course, budget traveling allows you to extend the value of your money, giving you the opportunity to do more or travel longer.

How do you manage to travel so much without, as you say, being rich?

Norbert Figueroa in Chile

It’s all about knowing how to save money, travel with a small budget, and how to create it while on the road. The blog is one of my sources of income, but I also freelance as a writer, photographer, and other random jobs.

What is the essential minimum of your backpack?

I travel with a 40L backpack with basically has enough clothes for a week, a rain jacket, flip-flops, and toiletries. I also travel with a daypack that has my electronics to keep up with the blog and other work. In it I have a DSLR camera, a laptop, a GoPro, Kindle, and a few other small gadgets.

Do you recommend travelling being covered by decent travel insurance?

Oh, definitely! I’ve had my share of accidents on the road, so I know the unexpected can happen any time. None of them were anything major, but at least I was happy to be able to visit the hospital once in Italy without being too worried about the bill, since I was covered by my travel insurance.

Norbert, where would you go and what would you afford having say 500$?

Norbert Figueroa in Krabi

Well, without considering flights since they vary drastically from where you fly from, the first place that comes to mind is Chiang Mai, Thailand. I lived there for less than $500 a month, and I loved it! The city is so charming, culturally rich, and so alive that you couldn’t believe it is so cheap. Or, I would go to Bali. Bali, as famous as it is, is not that expensive. $500 will last about two weeks there.

In the end, what are your plans for the time when you would visit all the countries in the world?

Keep traveling! I would then expand my list to include other territories. Or, I would revisit several places I’ve fallen in love with to experience them more in depth.

We thank Norbert for sharing his fascinating experience with us and we wish him to fulfill his dream and visit all UN listed countries by the end of 2020. He is an inspiration for every traveller who isn't afraid to dream big.

Read also: Expert's Advice: Getting Lifelong Impressions - Interview with Emanuela Grieco

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