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? It’s all one of the same, so go for the cheaper option.
Also, ignore the lonely planet ‘our pick’ it’ll be overpriced, and low quality (this is a bit of a recurring theme!). Since it gets whacked in the old ‘LP’, they generally hike their prices months before you get there, so save yourself the journey and don’t bother.
2) BOOZE: I’m not going to advocate going teetotal (I’m an Irishman for God’s sake) but what I will say is this… don’t drink imported booze (tequila, Guinness whatever) drink local booze, drink a lot before you hit the bars AND if possible try to only drink once a week. I know it’s a big ask but you burn through cash and lose the next day to a disgusting hangover, plus you’re much more liable to resort to Subway and McDonald’s when you’re head feels like it’s banging against a brick wall all day. Even more cash down the drain.
3) TRANSPORT: First up guys, travel slooooow. The world isn’t going anywhere, and you don’t have to see 75 countries in 5 days. Slow down, travel by land and don’t think of it as a race. If you don’t get to Bali this year, it’s still gonna be there next year, and the year after. Traveling fast is expensive and rushed, traveling slow allows you to see much more of a country AND you save a fortune by taking buses/trains as opposed to flights.
4) ACCOMMODATION: Just like the food, if you’re really trying to budget try to ignore the lonely planet. Feel free to go to the backpacker area but then drop your bags at a nice place for 30 minutes or so, split up and go and price up 5 or 6 different places. Meet up at the bags 30 mins later, share your findings and choose the best (read: cheapest) option. It’ll be half the price of the lonely planet ‘budget’ options.
5) AVOID THE TOURIST TRAIL: Backpackers talk a lot about getting off the beaten track but few follow through. It’s easy to get on the tourist trail and never leave but those destinations are full of overprices hostels, annoying hawkers and even more annoying backpackers. Forget them, have your backpacking fix and head off into the sunset to find the true country. You’ll literally be amazed how friendly the people are and how much cheaper it is. You’re also much more likely to have a real experience. Tell me that doesn’t sounds appealing?
Right folks, that’s just a few tips to get you thinking in the right frame of mind. Backpacking doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think, and if you’re smart about it, it can be down right cheap. Happy travels!