How to travel on a Budget!

So I like to call myself a budget backpacker but the truth is I cannot justify that at all. I thought I was one until I met people around the world that literally travel on a shoestring.

I like to go on long backpacking trips where possible but that is a rare opportunity. Most of the time I just travel to a new place every month or so and the main question I get asked is

 “How can you afford to travel so much?” 

The honest answer to that question is that  travelling does not cost as much as you think. You are brainwashed into believing you should buy all inclusive package holidays that you can only afford to go once a year. I would literally go insane if I waited all year to lie on a sun lounger all day and live off the hotel food and drink.

To give the best advice, I have broken budget travelling into four main categories as follows:

Flights

Flights do not and should not cost a fortune. I very rarely pay over £100 for a return ticket and I try not to pay that much when I can help it. From £100 upwards, I would be expecting to be changing continent. I have already talked about How to find cheap flights in a previous article. The trick is flexibility.  Most airlines now follow the no-frills approach which means you only have to pay for what you need. Do you need that extra bag or that special seat? These extra pennies add up and could be the difference between being able to afford that trip away and not.  I highly recommend you use a flight comparison search engine like Skyscanner


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Accommodation

Where to stay? Well I have technically covered the “How to find the best accommodation”  previously so I recommend you have a look at that. My main tip for accommodation is to consider hostels. Drop your preconceptions and try it before you put it down. It’s rare to find someone that has stayed at a hostel and hates it. Think how much you spend on a hotel usually and compare that to £10 a night if not less. That’s flights at under £100 return and accommodation at £10 a night, it all pieces together. Best search engines for accommodation would be Hostelworld for hostels and booking.com for everything else.

Something you may want to consider if you want cheap accommodation, and are travelling as a group of more than 2 is apartment rentals in the form of AirBnB. I have never used this as of yet as I rarely travel in groups and love hostels so much but renting an apartment and having your own home for the break sounds awesome.

HOSTELWORLD

Spending

Spending Money is completely up to you and it is always difficult to engage. Under this category, I include tours, attractions, food & beverages plus nightlife. If I am backpacking I spend around £30 per day which is actually relatively high. I have friends who spend around £15 a day or even less. If I was only going away for a few days like I do every month then I would spend a little more but break your budget down and calculate it. If not, simply work out how much you can afford to spend on a holiday, take flights, accommodation and transport away then that’s your budget – make it work.

Seriously though, best to break it down.

Food and Drink  – This depends on how cheap you are. My friend Marek from Poland would literally live on unsalted peanuts and protein bars if it meant he could travel longer. He actually does. If you are going for a short break, don’t be afraid to spend money on restaurants and things if you have the budget – you still have to enjoy yourself. If you plan on eating at restaurants though is not to choose restaurants on the main streets or main square, you can save half your money by walking a few minutes along a side street.

Tours & Attractions – Do not plan every minute of your trip but have a look on my favourite tour site Viator to see whats available in terms of tours and book in advance to help track your spending. I am a sucker for doing things this way. Also a bit of research in things to do in the city will give you an estimate to what you may spend, but bear in mind there are so many things to do in cities that are absolutely free and things like walking tours that are free in a way.

 

Transportation

Most cities, especially the most tourist-y ones have great transport links in the forms of trams, metro, trains and buses. There is no need to get a taxi or uber everywhere you go just because you are on holiday. Actually, I recommend walking as I always seem to stumble across something amazing. Why waste money on a taxi when you can experience the tram for a fraction of the price. You may even get lost which may not be fun at home, but it is fun when travelling. Connect with the city, you are there to relax.

Do a little research into how much your transport will cost between the things you plan to do and factor a little more into your spending money for unplanned exploring.

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Don’t waste money on stupid things and limit yourself to one week a year on a sun lounger in some costa del something location. Take my tips into account and give yourself something to look forward to, you deserve it.

If you have any questions or want to know how you can apply these tips yourself, email me at graeme@letsbackpack.co.uk