Keeping It Cheap

Backpacker’s Guide To Budget Travel

Backpacking budgets

Cheap Airplane Flights

We backpackers like to pride ourselves on a few things – our wealth of travel experiences, our above-average geography skills, our abilities to find a random combination of flights or train journeys that won’t cost the earth, and the stamps in our passports. We’re also old pros at keeping things cheap and getting the most out of any travel experience without breaking the bank.

Keeping it cheap whilst travelling is second nature for backpackers, and the reasoning is quite simple. The cheaper you keep your day to day living the more likely it is that you’ll have enough funds to last right through your trip, with maybe enough left over for some excellent experiences along the way. Read on below to find out a few top tips to keeping it cheap whilst backpacking.

Cheap Accommodation when backpacking

Chine Youth Hostel

Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or heading out on your first adventure, getting your accommodation right is one of the most important aspects of your trip. Cheap accommodation is everywhere, but if you want to make your backpacking experience sustainable in the long run, you need to try a little harder. It’s not just about finding the cheapest hostel in town and foregoing everything apart from a bed to sleep on. By checking out the various hostel comparison tools online you can find a wide range that offer excellent value for money and some added extras that can be worth an extra couple of dollars or euros expense.

Hostels versus Couchsurfing

The right hostel should offer you not only a bed to sleep on, but also potentially some (or all) of the following – lockers, kitchen facilities, a common room, clothes washing facilities, internet access, central location and a host that will be happy to give you some free advice on keeping it cheap whilst backpacking. Hostels are ideal for those travelling in groups, those keeping funny hours and those who are travelling alone for a long period of time and are craving social interaction.

If you want all of the above and more then perhaps couchsurfing is for you. As long as you don’t feel uncomfortable in someone’s private space, couchsurfing is the ultimate way to keep it cheap whilst backpacking. You’ll have the security of a private accommodation with the local knowledge of your host, and best of all it’s completely free! Guests are expected to help out around the place and perhaps contribute to shopping.

Out and About

Train Station Agra India

Accommodation aside, one of your next biggest expenses whilst backpacking is likely to be your transport around your location and to and from your point of entry. When booking your hostel or accommodation, you’ll need to make the decision on location. Some huge world cities will have centrally located hostels which will involve little travel but are likely to be in very expensive areas. Other, smaller destinations may offer the option of cheap accommodation which is only slightly out of the centre, thus enabling you to walk to the major sights. Cities like Paris and London are impossible to explore by foot as some of the attractions are located far from each other, whilst others are surprisingly compact. Make sure you take some time to research your location to decide where the best place to stay is.

Discount Travel Cards

If you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring in a city and think it’s worth the investment, why not consider a travel card. Many European and worldwide cities offer great deals on travel cards which incorporate travel on the local transport network (metro/buses/trains) with discounts on access to local museums and other attractions. Some also include deals such as 10% off at local shops and restaurants. These passes are a great idea if you are planning to see a lot of one particular city, but they are a considerable upfront investment depending on your budget. If you’re only looking to see a few sights and are on a tight budget, it is maybe better to buy a day travel card and spend some time at some free attractions such as local museums and parks instead.

Eating and drinking when backpacking

Cheap Food Mumbai

There are plenty of options available for those on a budget when it comes to sustaining yourself. If you’re staying in a hostel with a group of friend or have made friends locally, then cooking is a good option, especially if there are many of you. If the hostel has its own basic cooking facilities and ingredients (such as salt, spices and utensils) then you’ll only need to buy your main ingredients and you can cook in batch for everyone.

It is also possible to eat really cheaply when out and about. Bakeries are a great place to fill up when abroad – you’ll be able to get breads, pastries and pies for a really reasonable price and also take in a little of the local culture at the same time.

Eating out

If you’re on a budget it can be hard to find somewhere to eat out without breaking the bank, but there are some tips that can be followed to ensure you will get to treat yourself when backpacking. Firstly, consider moving your main meal of the day to lunch time. Many restaurants all over the world will offer fixed price menus at lunch time in a bid to lure in customers. These normally include three courses and tea/coffee for a fraction of the price at the same restaurant in the evening. Also, look out for student areas which will usually have deals catering to students such as a slice of pizza and a drink for minimal cost. Remember, you might be broke but you’re still allowed to enjoy yourself!