While almost all backpackers utilize budget accommodation in the form of hostels and campsites, many also waste quite a bit of money in other areas. And although at the start of a trip such expenses may seem trivial, over the course of a number of weeks, let alone months they certainly do start to add up.
Here are my top eight tips to cutting out the fat when it comes to what you pay to travel on a daily basis.
Do Your Research – You would be surprised by how much money can be saved by simply taking the time to research your options. A perfect example of the savings that can be had through adequate research can be found in terms of airfares. While in the past, the cheapest mode of transport from A to B was anything but in the air, this is no longer the case. Nowadays provided you book in advance and research the best airline, choosing to fly can not only be a lot faster and more enjoyable, it can be significantly cheaper too. The same principle applies to hostels, excursions and any adventure activities that you are interested in. If you want the lowest prices, you simply have to put in the research.
Backpack for Less
Source – colorblindpicaso
Party at the Hostel – Your budget accommodation should not be used to solely save you money on a bed but also on the cost of socializing. Many backpackers choose to go down the party route while traveling and this decision can play complete havoc on their budget. The fact is however that while a night in at home may not be all that exciting, the majority of hostels have a buzzing atmosphere in the evening and by choosing to do your partying there rather than out on the town, you are sure to spend a fraction of the amount.
Avoid Internet Cafes – If at all possible, bring a netbook, laptop or smart phone that can pick up wi-fi. While it certainly varies widely from Paris to Prague, the cost of internet cafes can certainly eat into your budget. On the other hand, should you have any sort of wi-fi enabled device, you can surf for free in almost any city. The number of cafes and pubs that offers wi-fi continues to grow and grow and I am not sure that I have ever been in a large city that did not have at least one McDonalds where a few hours surfing could be had for the cost of a cup of coffee.
Travel Mugs and Reusable Bottles – Speaking of coffee, purchasing beverages while out on a daily basis can really add up and begin to eat into your budget. For the cost of a travel mug before your trip however, you can enjoy free hostel coffee throughout your days spent sight seeing. And if you want to be even more frugal, endless bottles of water can be replaced by one if you keep one bottle and get into the habit of refilling it before you go out. Never is this habit more effective than during those ever popular Summer traveling months.
Never Take a Taxi – While you may not be aware of it at the start of your trip, it’s pretty difficult to get away from the fact that regardless of where you are in the world, if you do not speak the language, taxi’s are incredibly expensive. If there is one situation in which every backpacker gets overcharged at one time or another, it is in a foreign language taxi in a city that they have never been before. Therefore always research public transport options before you arrive in town.
Eating in Isn’t Always Cheap – While many backpackers attempt to save money by cooking back at the hostel, this does not actually always save money. If you want to keep your food costs down, just cooking your own food is not enough, you also need to look for the larger supermarkets. Particularly in areas where there are a large number of tourists, many smaller shops charge such amounts that there is little if any saving over a quick trip to McDonalds. Therefore if you will be somewhere for more than a few days, utilize Google Maps to locate the nearest large supermarket.
Dine with the Locals – On occasions when you do want to eat out, the lowest prices can generally be found in any city the further you get from the tourist hot spots. Another indicator of how the prices compare with other restaurants in an area is how many locals are sitting about. Sadly when you find a restaurant that is full of tourists and decorated with menus that are not of the local dialect, you can usually rest assured that you will be paying far more for your meal than the locals do.
Count Your Foreign Currency – Provided you are taking in at least two continents on your upcoming adventure, the matter of currency is one that you need to consider. Currency exchange offices are notorious for tricking tourists with cleverly placed decimal points. Even your local bank is likely to have a few hidden ATM charges for withdrawing in a currency other than your own and while such charges may not seem like a lot at first, over the course of a trip they can certainly add up. Unfortunately completely avoiding all of these charges is impossible but they can be greatly minimized by doing adequate research before you set off.
In conclusion, travel is never going to be free but provided you keep in mind the points in this article, it can certainly be cheap. It is however important to remember that some things are worth the money solely for the memories that they provide. Therefore if you’ve managed to reuse that plastic bottle over a hundred times on your trip, make sure that you treat yourself to that ridiculously over priced excursion.