How we did Guam


Guam would not feel too terribly expensive to me now, I don’t think.  But a few years ago when we were traveling off of zero income and when we came to Guam after an extensive amount of time in the extremely cheap parts of Asia, it felt like we had to be ridiculously budget conscious.  And maybe at that point, we really did need to be.

After we landed, we had just enough hotel points for two or three nights of hotels (I think one was in a Hilton and one in a Marriott, both along Tumon Bay,) but not much more.  And we had a lot of time set aside for Guam.  Not really purposely either…

We had actually just come for Tokyo where we quickly realized we couldn’t afford anything.  So we changed our onward ticket to leave much sooner than expected, thus giving us way more time in Guam than we had originally planned.

And…it’s a pretty tiny island.  Definitely doable in a very short amount of time.

By day three or four (of like…15) we had nowhere to stay.

So…what would you have done?

At this point in our lives, we had a few “emergency strategies.”

1.) Change our tickets and get out of dodge.

As I’ve already explained, this was our emergency strategy for Tokyo being too expensive.

2.) Use points! Duh!

As I’ve already explained, we had used up our points.

3.) Find a cheap hostel, homestay, etc.

The cheapest thing we could find was $30 a night and was more than we felt we could afford at that time.

4.) Couchsurf

We had tried this, if I recall….but I don’t think we had found anyone.

So…of course…we used a good ol’ back up plan that I would be surprised if many other treat as a staple, emergency plan…

5.) Rent a car and sleep in it.

A car rental was not only cheaper than a hotel per night, but we also wanted to get out and see other parts of the island.  If I recall, it was less than $20 a day for a cheap, local car rental.  Might have even been around $10 or something, I don’t remember.


In some ways, we were living the life.

Maybe I’m crazy, but living in a car felt a little like…camping.  It felt care free.  We used the little outdoor showers at the beach to get clean, then drove around in search of a parking spot at the K-mart for a place for the night.

There were, of course, many problems to this plan.  For instance, it was hot.  But there were misquitoes.  So, we really didn’t want to roll the windows down and get eaten alive, but didn’t want to suffocate either.  We also didn’t want to just run the air conditioning alllll night.  So we alternated and barely got any sleep.

For a few nights the K-mart plan worked fine, though we were exhausted during the days.  Then, on the fourth or fifth night, we showed up at the K-mart parking lot in time to see a cop knocking on the windows of and shining their flashlight into a car that looked much like ours.  It looked very much like they were looking for us.  “I guess K-mart doesn’t have the same policy as Walmart for all-night parking.”  I thought.

So, with anxieties heightened, we spent the next few nights sleeping in random parking lots.  Churches, the weekly market’s parking lot, wherever we thought maybe there was a chance we’d be left alone for 5 hours.

We never got chased off or harassed.  But we didn’t get much sleep either.

Once again, as happens so often in our life, the kindness of a stranger saved the day…

One morning, just a few days before our rental reservation was done, we met a US man who had just retired from the Navy and was selling a few odds and ends at a weekly morning market.  We had gone to the market to (successfully, I might add) buy super cheap, used snorkel equipment.  (-equipment we still have and get lots of use out of.)

By the end of our conversation with this man, he was a new friend and he had offered his spare bedroom for the rest of our time in Guam.  He gave us directions as to how we might find his house that night.

But…we couldn’t find it.  We didn’t have a phone or any way to contact him and we could not for the life of us find our way to his house in the dark.

The day before we needed to return the car, we ran into him at yet another morning market.  (There are lots of them in Guam.)  We explained to him why we had never showed up and this time we followed him back to his house.

The next week was great.  It was just like couch surfing.  Our new friend was an excellent host and was eager to take us to all the little spots we had failed to find the week before on our own.

We actually had quite a few adventures with him that week.  But that’s another story.









8 Comments on “How we did Guam

    • It’s crazy how often we run into the friendliest people, right when we need them. There’s kind of an extended version of this story but it would’ve been too long/too involved for this post!

      • Okay, this is going to be a total tangent, but your story and comment has brought it to mind…. You know how people tell kids not to talk to strangers? But, most strangers are decent people. And a lot of them are great. And if a kid is in trouble, like if a bad stranger is trying to get them into a car or something. Their best bet is actually to scream and run to the nearest adult, because most people are good.
        Your stories remind me of how most people are good (though maybe not the taxi drivers. 😉 )

        • I like this comment. 🙂 I think I may post more about this thought…

  1. In Guam now, don’t see a 30usd hostel, and nobody know the word here either. Booked a car rental for 44usd and plan to find some place evening time to sleep for 4 hours… Any where good? Kmart is 24 hours here by the way, and damn crowded. There is no walmart. Te,Pete to sleep in airport pay lot, or hotel garage

    • The K-mart parking lot was fine for one or two nights but by the third night we saw an officer with a flashlight checking cars and were pretty sure they were making sure no one was sleeping in the parking lot lol. So unfortunately I’d say K-mart isn’t a safe bet. There is an evening market that has a huge parking lot and that wasn’t bad but I can’t remember what it was called. :-/ But the good news is that the beach has a shower. 🙂

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