Backpacking on a Budget
Let's face it, what college student is not on a budget these days? Just because you are pinching pennies doesn't mean you can't have a fun backpacking trip. It does mean being smart, finding ways to cut corners, and having a little extra left over at the end of your trip. With these tips below you will be having a great trip in no time and worry free with your money. Not sure where you are going yet? Check out the New FarePlay and let us help you find cheap flights to top destinations around the world.
Leave valuables at home
Let someone know
Get a hostel with a kitchen
The key to backpacking is "less is more."" Stick to this rule of thumb and you will be all set. Sometimes students love to go overboard and bring six swimsuits and ten pairs of jeans. Well guess what, this is not the way to effectively backpack a place. If you are being boggled down by too much stuff then you will miss out some great opportunities like seeing more things and catching that last minute train. You will also save money with airlines for not paying extra for overweight luggage or checked bags.
There is really no need to bring your favorite ring you got for graduation or those earrings Dad gave you for your birthday. When backpacking the idea is to only have the basics on hand. Keep this in mind; only have things on you that you don't mind too much to replace. Not to say it isn't a bummer to have to get new clothing if your bag gets swiped, but it is a whole lot easier than something you will really miss not having.
Often people make the mistake of taking off on a trip and not telling family or friends. Even if you don't want Mom and Dad breathing down your back, it's a really good idea to let someone back home have a general idea of where you are going and how long you will be gone. Also have a way of getting in touch with you. The last thing you want is for some emergency on your end or at home and having no means of communication.
When you are booking a hostel check to see if they have a communal kitchen or complimentary breakfast. Often there is a kitchen available for use with some utensils and cooking items. Making a couple meals at your hostel will save you and your friends a lot of money in the long run.
Buy a train pass
Be careful of pickpockets and scam artists
Buy alcohol at a store
Bring your own snacks
Walk instead of taking a cab
Watch your drink cards at clubs
If you know you will be backpacking in one area, such as Northern Europe, Southern Europe, or Asia, then you can pre-purchase a train pass that allows you to travel within certain countries for a set amount of time. This elevates the stress of waiting in long lines at train stations. Plus you will end up saving money because you bought in bulk. Just be sure to.
Many countries, even the most cosmopolitan, have some form of pickpockets or scam artists. These people are trained to feed on tourists. They know right away that you are not a local and that they can take advantage of you. The best way to save money when backpacking is to keep your money close to you. The fastest way to lose money when traveling is having it stolen.
Bars and clubs love charging tourists for drinks. In major cities especially they know when you are coming and where to get you. For instance, around major tourist sites bars will charge more for beers then in other places knowing that you aren't going to stray too far. If you buy your alcohol at a store then you can pregame at your hostel and buy less drinks when you go out. Many cities also allow public drinking. So check the guide books first for this.
Bringing some energy bars or granola bars with you during the day can help fight off hunger cravings in between meals. Snacks during the day can easily add up to just as much money as a meal. With bars in hand you won't be spending your money on unnecessary snacks and can save it for other things.
It may feel easier to hop a cab and head to a destination. But don't do it! Between the mileage cost, tipping, and of course the added secret tourist fee (many cab drivers charge tourists more than locals because they don't disclose rates) you are looking at a hefty bill. Walking a little extra is good for your body and then environment not to mention your wallet. If something is really out of walking range then take a bus or metro. They tend to run less than $2 in most cities around the world.
In a lot of European countries clubs require drink cards at the door. Clubs hand them out, you get them punched each time you order a drink, and then when you leave you cash out. There are many instances of drunk club goers getting extra punches and not taking notice so they get charged double. Also if you loose your card, good luck. The fees for a lost card can be astronomical. So just make sure you keep track of your drink card and who is punch them.