AT A HOSTEL A FEW hundred kilometers inland from the famous city of Salvador, Brazil, the owner asks me to translate. Fluency in many languages is a boon and a bane. On this occasion it is the latter, for I am translating for two budget travelers, so frugal that I would not hesitate to call them cheapskates.
After first traveling and now living in South America, I’ve begun to wonder why some travelers are obsessively cheap. I admire anyone who seeks to travel independently, but question those who turn thriftiness into a sport.
Is extreme frugality ethical? Is it even worth the trouble? Here are some of the scenarios I have encountered that led me to question the thrifty intentions of some travelers.