Every 10 dollars saved guys, means you can travel ten dollars further. Or an even better way of looking at it, if you can save 30% of every transaction by sleeping in slightly less luxurious places, eating local food etc then you can travel 30% longer! You’re 4 ½ month trip suddenly just became 6!! With that in mind folks, here are five golden rules to save you some cash while you travel:
1) FOOD: Perhaps backpackers biggest enemy. Food is an integral part of traveling so don’t skimp too much, you want to experience everything the new country has to offer HOWEVER don’t convince yourself that you “just wanna see what McDonalds tastes like in Tibet”. Boll*cks! Leave the burgers et al. at home, you haven’t come all the way to Asia/Africa etc to line Ronald McDonald’s greasy pockets. EAT LOCAL and don’t be afraid to eat on the street. “It may not be hygienic” I hear you say? True, but you think because you sit in a ‘restaurant’ on plastic chairs in another venue that their kitchen is spotless?
2) BOOZE: I’d love to tell you all to lay off the booze, but I’m a realist so I know that’s not gonna happen, so what I will say is this –don’t even consider touching brand names you know, that means no Tequila, Guinness or Mike’s Hard Lemonade (you know who you are) for everyone until they return home. And no matter how many times you think you’ve met someone who’s gonna best your BFF, it never calls for a round of imported shots. That sh*t is expensive, as expensive as back home. Drink local booze at a fraction of the cost, try to limit your partying to one or two nights a week and try to never casually sip beers during the afternoon, save it for partying. That is a constant drain on your finances.
3) TRANSPORT: Dirty, cheap, disgusting and real. You dreamed of really traveling right? So forget those tourist buses, full of people who studied at a university 40km from your university back home. Get to the local bus/train station and sort out your next leg from there. It’ll be a fraction of the cost, you’ll see the real side of the country you’re in and you’re infinitely more likely to meet some cool locals. I’ve ended up crashing in peoples houses in places like Gunazhou, China, Botswana and East Timor through this budget travel method.
4) ACCOMMODATION: Forget the lonely planet, rough guide, trip advisor malarkey. If it’s on there, it’s over priced. That’s the brutal truth. You’re not trying to woo your partner here guys, you’re trying to find a place to get your head down for 8 hours before you see the awesome place you’re in so don’t waste your money on en suite, air-conditioned rooms with cable. Head to the area you want to stay, and march around there for 30 minutes or so, checking out what’s on offer. You’ll find a much realer, much cheaper alternative to anything you’ll find online.
5) FRIENDS: Keeping up with the jones’ is not a good vibe. When you meet groups of dudes partying everynight, sleeping until 4pm and doing again don’t feel the need to be one of them. Similarly when you meet some girls on daddy’s credit card staying somewhere with a nice pool and room service, it’s not why you’re here. Blaze your own trail, live on your own budget. By all means chill with these people, but when it comes to cash you’re not here to impress anyone. Understand your budget and live by it.
These are general guidelines folks, but ones that if you stick by you’re sure to fritter away less and less money than your average backpacker, just be smart and enjoy the open road. Happy travels!