Backpacking With a Budget: Tips for Every Travel Adventure


Traveling is one way to destress.  After spending most of your days in front of your desktop, finishing deadlines, and running on coffee, a much-needed break could be the only thing on your mind.

It is easy to file a leave to your superior, pack your bags, and start your adventure. However, you have to consider a lot of things. Which country you will embark on your backpacking journey, whether you are going alone or with a few friends, and most importantly, money.

A lot of times, people opt to set aside their much-needed breather because of money. Traveling is expensive, but do not let this stop you from taking a break.

You deserve to take a break. We will help you travel on a budget. The tips that we will provide you will surely help you save a lot of money without compromising your trip.

Plan your trip

Before you book flights and hotel rooms, you have to plan first. Make a list of every activity that you want to do. List down every equipment that you will need on your trip. If you plan to camp, RV Camping has a vast extension of camping gears expertly reviewed for you.

Choose which country you are traveling to. Decide if you want to go alone or with the company of your friends. Traveling with friends is a fun way to strengthen your bond with them while traveling alone is an excellent opportunity to reflect and know yourself more.

Once you know which country you will spend your adventure, make an itinerary of the activities you want to do. You might want to set a day to explore the city or just relaxing in your room. Most backpackers waste time because they have no concrete plans about their trip.

Most importantly, set your budget. Make sure you stick to your budget. Plan out how much you are willing to spend in one day. Be strict with the budget plan that you have. Always remember that you have a limited amount of cash.

Travel to countries with cheaper costs

There are countries with cheaper costs than in other countries. There are countries where your $10 will go in many ways while there are countries where $10 is only considered a change.

If you plan to visit countries from Asia, airfare might cost a lot, but everything is affordable once you get there. Currency conversion also plays a massive role in saving money.

Choosing a country with a lesser cost from accommodation to airfare will help you set the right budget for your travel. Be smart with your decision-making.

Stay on hostels

You might book a hotel room for your accommodation. Do not! Refrain from staying in hotel rooms. They are very expensive, and most of the time, all your money will go to your accommodation.

Hostels are cheaper, and we suggest you stay on hostels instead of hotel rooms. If this is your first time staying at a hostel, don’t let the nightmare stories scare you. Look for hostels with positive reviews, and this will limit the chances of you having a bad experience on your stay.

Staying at a hostel is also an excellent way to meet other people. Hostel owners usually organize events for the backpackers staying on their property. Besides free food, you can mingle with fellow backpackers and future travel buddies.

They might even share some travel tips for you. Do not be afraid to try something new from time to time.

Wait for seat sales

Most airlines have seat sales. Please wait for your local airlines to make their annual seat sales before purchasing flight tickets.

Typically, flight tickets are the most expensive purchase you will have to buy on your backpacking journey. If you manage to buy a flight ticket during the sale, this will hugely impact your budget plan. You can manage to spend a little more on food or even gears.

Be patient with waiting. Usually, airlines will announce when they will make the seat sale. The competition is very tough. We suggest you go on their site minutes before the sale. If your internet connection is slow, look for cafes with a fast internet connection.

You have to be quick with everything. Remain calm and avoid unnecessary panic.

Travel local first

Before backpacking across the globe, try to start your budget-friendly backpack journey in your own country. You can also travel to the neighboring country.

You have to think smart. If you travel locally, you won’t need to spend your money on flight tickets. There are a lot of activities that you can enjoy in your country. Many camping grounds are available for backpackers.

Think of it this way: a lot of foreigners are coming to your country for travel purposes. Indeed, there are a lot of spots you can enjoy. You are also helping your nation’s tourism.

Try hitchhiking

While this might seem a scary idea, this is a sure way to cut on your travel expenses. Horror films centered on hitchhiking stories might prevent from doing this, but trust us on this one.

Hitchhiking will save you a lot of money you could have spent on bus fares or taxis. When you are hitchhiking, prepare a piece of paper with your destination written on it. It will help you quickly find locals that are going on the same destination as you.

Most of the time, locals will give you a ride because they are curious or want to talk to a foreigner. Make sure you try making small talk. Engage with them. Buy them coffee or give them a chance to show your gratitude.

If you are not too keen on the idea, you do not have to force yourself. Your safety should be your number one priority, and you should not compromise safety and security.

Travel on wheels

If you have a camper van or an RV, utilize that! Traveling on a wheel is much cheaper. No airplane tickets plus you don’t have to book accommodations.

You can merely park your traveling car in a park and call it a day. You can do your laundry on your RV. You can cook and enjoy a coffee cup without worrying about how much money you are spending daily.

Most camping parks have a fishing spot; try fishing, and enjoy your free dinner. Its only one meal, but this one meal will save you money.

With an RV, you can peacefully sleep there and do anything. Don’t be too picky with your choices.

Travel slow

Instead of hiring transportation to get to the next town, walk. Walking is tiring, but this will save you money.

Walking has a lot of benefits, and the truth is, this is the essence of backpacking. The slower you travel, the more money you are saving.  Instead of flying, try riding the bus.

Don’t take taxis, walk, mostly if the destination is not too far away. As you walk, you will discover more attractions or tourist spots you might miss if you are in a taxi.

You will also meet other locals who might offer you free food, and you have to be careful. Be wary of every food you are putting in your mouth.

Do not be shy to try samples

If you visit a local grocery store, chances are they are doing a lot of samples. You might think of food, but those aren’t the only things you might encounter.

If they have a food sample, don’t be too shy to approach them. No one is going to judge you. Aside from food, groceries only sample drinks. If you are lucky, you might even encounter an alcohol sample.

Besides samples, they also give freebies: wipes, sanitizers or alcohols, or even toothbrushes. Get your hands on every freebie you might see. This is beneficial for your budget trip.

Every time you buy an item, you are spending money. If there are available free items, take the chance, and not let being shy hinder you from getting free.

Try street foods and eat local food

Do not be picky with your food. You might want to skip the 5-star restaurant you saw or that food chain with many people lining up.

Try the food carts and street food. Those are much cheaper, and they taste amazing. Locals love their street foods, and chances are you might even love it too.

Experiencing local food is one of the essences of your travel. Do not be afraid to taste different flavors far from your usual palate.

Each country you are going to visit takes pride in their food. Make the most of your travel journey by trying local food. You will get to taste authentic flavors that restaurants in your country won’t be able to replicate.

Drink less

Stay away from pubs or bars. Those will cost you more money than you might expect. A little happy hour won’t hurt you from your backpacking trip, but be sure to stick to your budget.

Truthfully speaking, beers from the local grocery are way cheaper than the beers they sell at the bar. If you want to chill and spend a little, opt for the grocery store beers.

If you think you will miss the possible social interactions, try spending your time in a park where drinking is allowed. You can meet locals and fellow backpackers. They might even offer to share their food and beer with you.

Bring a refillable water bottle

Instead of buying water every time, buy a quality water bottle. This will help you lessen your expenses. Besides the fact that you are saving a lot of money, refillable water bottles are eco-friendly.

You can help nature by refraining the use of single-use plastic. Every experienced backpacker has a refillable water bottle in their bags.

There are many water fountains where you can refill your bottle with clean water. If you eat at a local food chain, they will give a pitcher of free water. Utilize that and refill your bottles.

Stay away from souvenirs

Souvenirs are an excellent reminder of your trip but stay away from them. Buying souvenirs will cost you money, and it will take up space in your bag.

People usually say, “collect memories, not things.” Keep that in your mind whenever you think of buying one.

Bus tickets, photos, or an entrance stub can be your reminders of the trip. Always remember that you are traveling with a limited budget. Be sure to stick to your travel plan.

Look for free attractions and activities

Not everything you need on your travel adventure should cost you money. Look for free local events.

Before you sleep, search the internet for free attractions and activities available in your area. Be patient with your search.

Most of the time, parks and museums are free to the public. Take advantage of that and visit these places.

During your trips to museums, you will learn more about the country you are traveling to. Locals and fellow travelers will surround you so you can expand your network.

Take advantage of the discounts.

Use your internet connection to look for codes or discounts that you can use on your travel adventure. It might seem a small amount, but you are still saving money.

At individual pubs, beers are cheaper at a given amount of time, utilize that. Restaurants offer freebies or discounts during lunchtime.

Some fast-food restaurants have gimmicks like a free meal for the first 100 customers. Don’t be too shy to line up. No one is going to make fun of you for availing these things.

Learn how to haggle

When buying things on the local flea market, do not merely agree and take out your wallet. Learn to haggle.

It doesn’t matter what item you are trying to purchase. You can get cheaper than the original price if you know how to haggle properly. You will be surprised at how much money you saved from haggling.

But you have to keep in mind that the people you are haggling with are people who make a living by selling on the markets. Learn how to negotiate without making things difficult for the merchants properly.

Utilize your network

If you are backpacking in a country where your mother knows someone or where your distant cousin lives, utilize that connection.  You can visit them and try to stay over for a few days. You can do your laundry, eat free food, and sleep without worrying about accommodation costs.

Don’t be too shy. Chances are they will be thrilled with your visit. This is also an excellent way to catch up and talk about your lives.

You won’t even worry about your safety. You are with familiar people who won’t do anything to harm you.

When you meet up with a local, you can even explore the place. They know every street and the spots with free beer. They know which restaurants have the best wings.

Do manual labor in exchange for money or food

If you are staying in a hostel, you can help with manual labor. You can help them with chopping woods, cleaning bathrooms, or fixing pipes.

Hostel owners either have the options to pay you for the labor or let you stay for another night, give you free meals and beer.

Volunteer at the local pub in exchange for a free meal or beer. Most of the time, the jobs they will assign to your are not even formal. You only need to do a little bit of fixing or cleaning.

If you want to stretch your money or stay a few days, get a one-day or week-long job. You’ll gain enough money to help you with your budget trip.

Travel with a friend

While traveling alone is a whole new experience, traveling with someone will help you further lessen your expenses. You can ask your buddy to share the costs with you.

You have someone to share the hostel fees. The grocery items that you bought? Your friend can help you with paying that. You can even split the bill into two when you eat at pubs or bars.

Hitchhiking is less scary. You won’t need to overthink about hitchhiking, and you are with someone familiar. If anything goes wrong, you have your friend with you.

Pack lightly

Do not try to buy and pack unnecessary items. Make a list of the things that you think you need while backpacking. Once you are done with the plan, eliminate half of the things listed.

Choose which items are essential to your trip. Keep in mind that bringing too much is a hassle. You have to pay for excess baggage. You can’t leave your excess bags anywhere; you have to pay for lockers.

Packing light will make things easier for you and your wallet. Do not try to bring all of the items in your closet.

Try to make the locals your friends.

Befriending a local is beneficial for you. They can tour you around the city for free. They know trendy spots that fit the budget.

They can also introduce you to other locals. Maybe they have a spare room where you can spend your nights. Since they are your friend and lodging is not their business, you can ask you to pay for the room for a lower price.

Befriending locals will also increase the chances of you working extra jobs to earn money. Since they know almost everyone in the area, they can vouch for you.

Always try for the cheaper alternatives

Instead of washing your clothes on a laundromat, you can join the locals washing their clothes on the riverside. This is a widespread thing with locals. You have to be careful with the detergent you are going to use, though.

If you miss the last bus at the station, you can camp out at the station instead of getting a taxi cab and spending a considerable sum of money. Spend the night at the station and take the first bus trip.

Don’t drink fizzy beverages whenever you eat out. Drink the free water they serve.

These are all little things that will help you save money. Before spending money, think of an alternative where you don’t need to open up your wallet.

Cook your meal

Do not always eat out. Cook your meal. You can save money from this tip.

Another benefit of cooking your meal, you can cook the meals to your liking. Unlike in restaurants, sometimes the food may not taste great. You can tweak your meals until they taste the way you want it to be.

You can also guarantee the freshness of the ingredients you are using. Buying food at the ingredients and condiments at the wet market can also save money.

Try to avoid malls or groceries

If you plan to buy ingredients or other necessities, try to avoid malls as much as possible. You can opt for the wet market.

Like what we said before, products on the wet market are cheaper than those at the malls or groceries. You are also helping local farmers gain money when you buy from them.

Traveling has many valuable benefits to the mind and body, especially when you feel burnout. Do not be afraid to travel even with a limited budget. You don’t need to spend a considerable amount of money whenever you travel.

Having money also doesn’t guarantee the quality of your trip. If you are traveling on a budget, you have to be smart with your decisions. We hope that the tips and tricks we provided above will help you on your next travel adventure.

Keep in mind that every step of the way, you have to enjoy the whole experience. Safety should be your number one priority. Leave your comfort zone and not be afraid to try new things that you won’t regret doing.

Matt Davison
Matt has done marketing for travel and tourism for over a decade. His first love is SEO, with entrepreneurship hotter on its heels than a girlfriend. When he is not looking up flights back to his next destination, you can find him in the garden, making excuses to walk Rusty, strategizing with the team and tinkering on sites until the early morning.