THE SILK ROAD TRAVELERS HOSTEL, ZHANGYE – I just did a search for hotel rooms in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is almost a war zone. There are riots every weekend. People are getting shot. Subway stations are being set on fire. And I heard this weekend, ATMs ran out of cash. Things seem to be escalating…

As a result of all this carnage, you can now get a great deal on a hotel room there.

I found a family room (two suites, four beds) in the Ramada Grand View (2,305 verified reviews) for $80 per night on sale, down from $460 (83% discount).

I found a room at the Imperial Hotel (10,330 verified reviews) for $56 a night, down from $280 (80% discount).

And I found a room at the Rambler Oasis (3,791 reviews) for $25 a night, down from $168 (85% discount).

And on and on…

Full-Time Drifters

Greetings from China! Sixteen months ago, we got rid of all our things, and we cast off into the Unknown with our three children and a suitcase.

I sometimes tell people it’s a sabbatical, but it’s not really a sabbatical because I quit my job, we left our apartments, and we said goodbye to our friends. We’re never going back to Delray Beach. Really, we’re full-time drifters now.

Because I’d left my job and we didn’t have an income, our budget was important. So we chose to visit countries that were really cheap.

We went to Eastern Europe. It’s cheap there. We went to Turkey. It’d just had a currency devaluation. It was unbelievably cheap there. Then we went to Central Africa. It was cheap there. Then Egypt. It was having problems with terrorist attacks, etc.

What we found is that once we got away from America, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, we could live cheaply just about anywhere.

But with a little research of the world news and attention to exchange rates, we could find places that were “unbelievably” cheap… where taxi rides were measured in cents… family meals cost a few dollars… and we could stay in nice digs for less than $20 a night. Without compromising on our safety. Or the quality of our experience.

Near the Border

Our burn rate back in America was easily over $7,000 a month. Keep in mind, Kate and I lived separately (we’re divorced), so we had two apartments, two cars, etc.

Now our burn rate is less than $2,500 a month. If we wanted, we could easily get it lower. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we’re trying to be loose with our spending.

We’re currently in Zhangye, in northwestern China near the border with Mongolia, staying in a $32 a night hostel and sleeping in bunk beds.

Here we are at the bullet train station yesterday…


On the road with Kate and the kids

China isn’t the cheapest place we’ve been. Vietnam and India are both cheaper, for example. But it’s still pretty cheap. Taxis cost $2. We’re paying an average of $30 a night for our accommodations. And all five of us can eat in a restaurant for less than $15 total.

China’s exchange rate has recently started falling, so maybe it’ll be cheaper next year. We’ll be traveling around China for another month. Then, we’ll go to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong isn’t a place we’d normally go, because it’s expensive. But with the riots there, and all the tourists canceling their trips, we can now get a hotel room at an 80% discount.

Most importantly, I’ve heard it’s perfectly safe as long as you stay away from the protesters… which isn’t difficult.

– Tom Dyson

P.S. At writing, the Dow-to-Gold ratio is at 17.5. If you’re just joining us, catch up here on why I track this ratio.


Reader question: You’d mentioned purchasing healthcare for the whole family for a year for only about $1,000. Where can I find this great offer?

Tom’s response: We used a company called Voyager Insurance, based in Britain. They covered us for travel in any country in the world except America.

Reader question: You talk about going to gold, but what type of gold? Funds? Physical gold? GLD [a gold exchange-traded fund]? Please enlighten me.

Tom’s response: I answered this question here.

Reader question: How do you find out about hostels and places to stay along the way?

Tom’s response: We use a variety of apps, including Airbnb,, Agoda, and Google Maps. We also ask other travelers we meet for recommendations.

Booking accommodation has been a seamless and frictionless process. We’ve nearly traveled around the world, and so far we haven’t had any negative experiences or surprises.

I keep wondering how booking accommodation would have been like 15 years ago on a trip like this. Probably a nightmare. Smartphones have made traveling so much easier.

Reader question: Do you take physical money or just do cash advances along the way? Thanks, and keep up the fantastic articles.

Tom’s response: We find an ATM, insert our U.S. ATM card, enter the PIN, and withdraw cash. This has worked perfectly… in the center of Africa… in Albania… in India… everywhere.

Reader question: I love reading about your adventures. As a father of four and about to turn 40, I am also sick and tired of the rat race we call the American dream.

I have a question about gold, though. What products for holding gold are available in the “system”? And are they safe?

Tom’s response: Good question. I prefer physical gold. But we have 401(k) money that we couldn’t withdraw without a penalty, so I had to buy gold in the stock market. I bought gold mining companies and silver bullion. But buying gold bullion is easy too. There are several ETFs. One of these days I’ll write a report on them.

In the meantime, as always, keep your feedback coming at [email protected]. Kate and I read all your messages, even if I publish only shortened versions of them. We find them so encouraging and comforting. And they’re also an integral part of this project.

I will continue publishing as many of them as I can. But don’t worry… I will never reveal your identity or publish any potentially identifying details from your message.