Where I Slept in 2016

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A 2017 Camping Night in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

I’ve been traveling full time for over two years, never staying in one city for more than a few months.

Here are the main questions I get from people who can’t wrap their heads around that unusual concept:

  • “OK, but where do you live?” It’s equally true that I live wherever I am at that moment and that I live nowhere.
  • “Where’s your home base?” Nowhere.

In 2016 I mixed in two long stays in Buenos Aires–where I am very comfortable and feel like I’ve found my niche in terms of neighborhood, gym, restaurants, friends, and nightlife–with several months traveling in ex-Yugoslavia to learn Serbo-Croat and several shorter trips to Southeast Asia, Prague, Leipzig, Santiago, Chennai, Dubai, and Spain.

Here’s how many nights I slept in 2016 in the following types of accomodations:

For comparison, here’s how many nights I slept in those places in 2015:

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 10.28.49 PM

Camping: 1 Night

Last year, I wrote that I wish my two night total had been ten times higher. Instead I camped (car-camped, not even backpack-camped!) one night at Kauloa Regional Park on Oahu. We swam all night, walked along Secret Beach in the morning, and then drove out.

This year I’ve already camped seven nights and hope to do more in the European summer. Never again should this number be so low!

A 2017 Camping Night in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Hostels: 23 Nights

Traveling solo in Vietnam, Brazil, Spain, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Chile, it made the most sense to pay $7 to $20 for a bed and the chance to meet people from all over the world.

After about three nights, I’m usually itching to get into an apartment or hotel room with more privacy, but for short periods of solo travel, hostels are still king for me.

Airbnb: 59 Nights

These are stays of 15 nights or less in Airbnb apartments in Chile, Brazil, Croatia, Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Argentina. All were stays in entire apartments of 3-15 nights except a one night stay in a private room in an occupied apartment in Vic, Catalonia, Spain.

For stays of several nights to several weeks, I find Airbnb to be a much better alternative than hotels because they are cheaper, offer a kitchen, and are often in better neighborhoods for non-business travelers. I find them superior to hostels because I couldn’t put up with a shared room and bathroom for so long.

Apartments: 233 Nights

This was about one month in a Belgrade apartment, two months in a Zagreb apartment, and five months in two Buenos Aires apartments.

In Zagreb, I looked on the local real estate site (njuskalo.hr) and found someone looking to sublet one room in his two bedroom apartment for a “local” price. I paid about 200 euros a month for a few months of a furnished room, all bills included. It was my first time having a non-family roommate in six years, and it helped out my acquisition of Croatian while saving me a pile of money.

These 233 nights show that the bulk of the year I am stationary and living more or less like a local in foreign cities. And when I’m not living like this, I usually long for it after a few weeks on the road of changing lodging every day or few days. Maybe I’m getting old!

Redeye: 4 Nights

Two of these were luxury nights with a bed while I flew Etihad A380 First Class or Singapore First Class, while two were in seats in Copa Business Class and *gasp* United economy.

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Etihad A380 First Class on a Redeye

Hotels: 22 Nights

I had some good point redemptions in Bangkok and Chennai before Club Carlson took away the second night free on awards. And the Westin Singapore’s rooftop infinity pool was awesome.

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Westin Singapore, January 2016

Friends: 11 Nights
Family: 11 Nights

I love visiting friends and family, and I’ll sleep on whatever surface is available from a spare bed to an air mattress to couch cushions on the floor because the couch isn’t long enough.

I especially love that home cooking I can’t replicate myself in foreign apartments, and the extra tennis and golf that family visits entail.

Casas Particulares: 2 Nights

Casas particulares are private homes in Cuba, where I stayed in 2015. In 2016, I didn’t stay in any Cuban casas particulares, but I made two overnight homestays in rural Thailand, which were a similar idea.

Motels: 0 Nights
CouchSurfing: 0 Nights

I usually stay in motels a few nights a year when I’m in the US for an event like a basketball game or reunion, but not last year.

I sometimes CouchSurf (which is staying free on strangers’ couches, see Everything You Need to Know about CouchSurfing), but I didn’t in 2016. I did hitchhike though, so I am still a filthy freeloader.

Total Cost

I estimate that I spent less than $9,000 on accommodation. This also included utilities and internet, since I never had to pay that separately at an Airbnb, hostel, or hotel. That’s about five months worth of rent in Waikiki where I last lived before going nomadic, and about $2,000 less than I spent in 2015.

I wasn’t quite as efficient as 2015 where I only paid for two accommodations on two nights. I committed that annoyance 19 nights last year. This is one of my favorite things about being nomadic versus having a home base. I don’t have an apartment or home sitting empty while I travel and pay for another place to stay in a foreign country.

Bottom Line

For the last two years, I’ve kept track of where I sleep every night just because I like numbers. Looking back at 2016, I had a great mix of apartments, fancy hotels, shared hostel dorms, and homestays. Hopefully 2017 can be a similar mix plus more camping!


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1 COMMENT

  1. Scott,
    How do you sign up for credit cards if you don’t really have a permanent address? Do you just have the bank send it to your family and then send it to you or pick it up? I’m based in Chicago (we actually met at the Chicago Seminars, but you might not remember me) and I am looking at traveling longterm or relocating to my other house in the Philippines and use that as a homebase and it help to know what you do.

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