If you’re thinking that you can’t afford a vacation this year, maybe these budget backpacking tips will change your mind. If you use your smarts and plan well (which I know might go against the grain for wanting to relax an’ all), you can enjoy a fabulous trip, even with meager funds. If you can afford a flight to one of the great backpacking destinations, you’ll find that one thing that makes them so great is the really affordable hostel accommodation. In the USA, knowledge of hostels and number of hostels comparative to country size is somewhat lacking but really – get to grips with this and you’ll see just how affordable traveling can be. Whether going alone or with a group of your besties, these budget backpacking tips will mean you can have a vacation this year!
1. Bare Necessities
If you’ve ever carried your life around in a backpack, then you know that slimming your life down to the bare necessities will save you back pains, as well as a lot of sweat and tears. Not only does slimming down alleviate the weight of hauling around a cartload like a mule horse, but you’ll also be able to simply carry-on should you choose to fly budget airlines, the essential go-to transport of international budget backpacking. This will save you a bundle on checked luggage fees.
2. Budget Airlines
Ryanair, easyJet, Wizzair. These are just a few of Europe’s budget airlines, which will very cheaply fly you from here to there in the blink of an eye. As previously suggested, if you can slim luggage down enough to carry on, you’ll be shocked at how cheaply you can travel regionally once you book that pricey international flight. Traveling South America? Try Gol Transportes Aéreos, PAL Airlines, or Sky Airline. Australia? Jetstar Airways and Tigerair Australia are stellar choices for budget backpacking. North America? Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, and Southwest Airlines. Asia or Africa? There are too many to name. You can visit en.wikipedia.org to check out budget airlines the world over.
3. Train Passes
With excellent train networks throughout Europe and Asia, train transport is one of the most convenient and popular ways to travel round these continents. Though the train passes in western Europe can be quite pricey, they’re still worth the dollar you spend, because not only do they literally save you, they figuratively save you as well, allowing you to bypass long lines at the station, alleviating the stress of travel. A train pass, as opposed to individual tickets, will provide you a select amount of travel-days over a select period of time (for instance, six days over three months) within specific countries or regions (Italy-France, etc.). Even better, if you’re traveling in a group, a bulk buy of these passes will earn you a decent discount.
One more cheap transportation option for budget backpacking: carpooling. Long gone are the days of hitchhiking, where you flipped a coin and put out a thumb, not knowing whether the driver of the car pulling up alongside you would be sane or looney tunes. With carpooling apps like Carpooling or Sawaari, an abundance of references and ratings will provide you with the peace of mind that you are in capable non-serial-killing hands. These apps allow you to plug in your departure city and destination, locating hosts who are offering a lift on your chosen dates. Together, you can negotiate a price of the lift, which is often a small portion of the charge of gas.
5. Kitchens Count
When it comes to booking accommodations on your backpacking trip, apart from couchsurfing and camping, hostels are still one of the cheapest and most popular options. One thing to look for if you want to get even more bang for your buck is a hostel with either a complimentary breakfast or a group kitchen. This will of course allow you to save on breakfast expenses and also throw together a few of your own dinners on the cheap. Though you’ll obviously want to try out local dishes, some in-house meals will help you keep to a tight budget.
6. Store-bought Booze
Don’t get overcharged for watered-down drinks at local bars and pubs – especially around major tourist sites, where the price of beer is jacked up to the point that you’ll think you’re drunk already. Instead, if you’re looking to get a bit tipsy, buy your boxed wine or local brews at the area stores and have a pre-night-out party at the hostel. Getting your buzz on before you go out to greet the night will ensure that you don’t spend too much on bar booze.
7. Start a Habit: Don’t Cab It
Cab prices can be astronomical in foreign countries...especially the so-called “black cabs” available in many cities – the alternatives to city cabs – who usually either take advantage of your ignorance of city distances by suggesting a steep fee or overcharge you at the end of the ride if you were too overeager to get somewhere to set a price. Public transportation is always a better way to go – subways, buses, or trolleys, which in some countries is an experience in itself. Or walking when the distance allows is, of course, the free alternative. Plus you get a little workout, a little sunshine, and you might even happen upon the city’s hidden gems.
The most important thing to pack for budget backpacking is attitude. If you’ve chosen a backpacking trip because of its affordability, there WILL be sacrifices compared to a resort vacation. The fact is though, you are on vacation when perhaps, you thought you might not be able to afford one, you have freedom, fantastic experiences await and you may just end up feeling more alive than ever before. Would you consider backpacking?
Resource for hostels in the USA