Finding a route to simpler pleasures
Li Xinlei is planning a trip to Dunhuang in northwestern China’s Gansu province. Rumor has it that some ancient grottoes might be closed soon to protect them from rough weather, and he wants to see them before it is too late.
Thirty-year-old Li is a travel enthusiast, and has journeyed to most of China, with only the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and northwestern region left on his wish list.
“I travel as often as time permits, with a limited budget,” said Li.
Li seldom chooses star-rated hotels, instead, he stays in youth hostels and inns, where travelers share rooms or suites. Prices per person can be low as 50 yuan ($7.20) a day, and newly met travelers can make friends and travel together.
There is also abundant room for cost-saving in transportation. Inter-city buses, car-pooling and hitchhiking are Li’s frequent choices. Some places are ideal for traveling on foot: He had an intense four-day hike in snow-capped mountains of Muoto in the Tibet autonomous region.
Doctor candidate Geng Zhaowei, 26, drove a rented van from Ohio to California in a 20-day trip in the United States in July, and camped in national parks to experience a simpler vacation. Booking a campsite for one night costs $20 to $26.
New graduate Bu Yusi usually books tickets ahead of time and studies travel guides online on sites such as Mafengwo and Qyer to trim expenses. When she traveled from Beijing to Taiwan in April, she chose to make two transits by plane and ship. The price was roughly 1,300 yuan, or half the price of a direct flight ticket.
“Not only did I save money, but I enjoyed a fantastic sea journey,” she said.
Her 15-day trip in Taiwan cost roughly 9,000 yuan. The daily spending per capita of the 4 million mainland travelers to Taiwan was 1,521 yuan in 2015. Bu’s spending was only 40 percent of the average.
Though with bigger budget now, Li prefers immersing into local culture rather than seeking out luxurious pleasure. He recently discovered a passion for photography, and anticipates capturing the beauty of wild deserts and grottoes in Dunhuang.
He Fei contributed to this story.