It’s still one of the best ways to see the world and that’s why you might need some great tips for budget backpacking. You can go backpacking on a budget and still have the most amazing experience. It’s all about maximizing, well, just about everything really, so you squeeze the very last cent out of every dollar and take advantage of every opportunity. If you’re planning on hoisting up your rucksack or are considering hitting the road well traveled, read on for some essential tips for budget backpacking and the holiday of a lifetime.
1. Keep It Light
The most obvious and truly the most sensible rule of budget backpacking is what you carry in your rucksack! Don’t pack like you’re about to take a steam liner of old. Check the climate of your destination and pack a few sturdy, interchangeable pieces and sensible shoes. Pare down the hygiene and maintenance products to a minimum. Travel sizes are an obvious choice. That way, you won’t look ridiculous and miss your train by trying to run along the platform with say, a hat box.
2. Buy Liquor at the Store
It’s bad enough you have to pay for bar and restaurant markups at home-don’t do it abroad too! Buy libations at a store for much cheaper than the tourist traps and have a nip before you head out. That way you can still experience the hot spots with a nice buzz without breaking the budget. Also, many places allow drinking in public or let you BYOB, so check ahead and keep the party going all night on the cheap! Pro tip: Although any store will usually be cheaper than a bar, try to hit one outside the tourist areas to pay what the locals do and save even more!
3. Pack Your Own Snacks
Like liquor, snacks are often marked up especially for tourists! When budget backpacking you might have the sense to overlook an overpriced souvenir, but if you find yourself hungry or thirsty at a tourist attraction, it can feel like a matter of life and death (although the only thing that usually dies is your wallet) and in your delirium it becomes easy to justify that $9 bottle of water. A refillable water bottle and a sack of granola can save you bundles! If you do end up with that $9 eau, at least reuse the bottle to try and earn some of that money back!
4. Buy Train Passes
Destinations like Europe and Japan offer train passes that grant you travel to various countries (in Europe) and cities (in Japan) during a fixed period of time. This not only saves money, but also time and frustration as you can avoid impulse or uneducated purchases by researching and planning in advance. Purchase online before you travel and usually pick up the physical passes at designated exchanges once you arrive in country.
5. Walk, Walk, Walk!
If you are backpacking on a budget to begin with, you’re probably not one to sit around on your butt. Don’t start once you get to where you’re going. Skip the cabs, get some maps and plan your visits to incorporate as much walking (and as little paying for transport) as possible.
6. Get a Hostel with a Kitchen
Making some of your own meals can save you an incredible amount of money while travelling. If backpacking on a shoestring budget trip is your goal, seek out hostels that have communal kitchens. They usually come with equipment and utensils to use as well. Purchase some local ingredients for cheap lunch or dinner eats. Another option is to seek out accommodations that offer a free continental breakfast. If you can’t get those, get some fruit and cereal (and instant coffee) to kick start your day without breaking the bank!
7. Don’t Bring Your Valuables
It may seem like a no-brainer but it bears repeating that a budget backpacking excursion is neither the place nor situation to sport your grandmother’s engagement ring or the watch your father smuggled out of Vietnam just.for.you. A good rule of thumb is not to pack anything you couldn’t stand to replace. This one practical consideration can save you a world of hurt if things get lost, left behind or stolen.
Successful budget backpacking is all a matter of common sense and thinking before you do anything. That’s not to say you have to stop and consider before you make a step because that would take the fun out of it. Planning ahead and strong budgeting is the key. Have you ever been backpacking on a budget? Do share your experiences. Would you do it again?