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Backpacking on a Budget: 6 Ways to Save Money

A man backpacking on a budget standing on top of a mountain overlooking a village.

My name is Jordan Simons and I’m here to show you how you can travel the world – continuously.

In 2014 I made the best decision I’ve ever made – I sold my possessions, quit my job and began to travel the world. Since then I’ve visited 33 countries across 4 continents, and lived for over 6 months in both Australia and Indonesia. I’ve done some amazing things and met some incredible people, all because I decided to make an unconventional choice to live the life I wanted to lead.

Collected from my own personal experience, here are 5 ways you can save money while travelling:

1. Eat local

‘Do as the locals do’It’s a classic travelling phrase that you’ve probably heard before, but it’s a classic for a reason. The cheapest and best food in any country is the food that is eaten by the local people. It’s probably safer too. The ingredients will be sourced locally and they’ll probably know how to cook it better than they know how to cook a Bacon Double Cheeseburger. Remember you’re travelling and you want to try new things – do as the locals do, eat as the locals do. It’ll save you loads of money in the long run and you might just acquire a new favourite dish!

A budget-friendly man wearing a white shirt while backpacking.

2. Find a travel partner

Everything becomes cheaper if you travel with another person. You can share rooms or a bed, split the cost of transport, even share meals if you like. Plus it’s always nice to share your adventure with someone!

Just ask them if they want to travel with you for a while to save costs and hey presto – problem solved. Who knows, you might just find a new best friend.

A group of men backpacking on a boat holding beer.

3. Don’t be lazy

If you’re looking for your hotel or hostel then walking is always going to be the cheapest option. Do your research beforehand (or download apps like Maps.me) and plan to walk when you arrive. Obviously this won’t always be possible but as long as you are willing to walk then you’ll always be able to save money. You could also do your own walking tour. Research the place before you visit and explore it by yourself on foot. Or better yet, look to see if there are any free walking tours! Loads of places offer this now and it’s a great way of meeting people and seeing a city. This is a much better way of exploring a new place and you’ll be getting in some free exercise too. Think of all the money you’ll be saving by not getting a taxi- use that to reward yourself with a nice cold beer at the end of the day!

A man backpacking next to a river.

4. Learn to barter

Everything is negotiable. This is especially true in soft-culture countries like those in Asia, Africa and South America. The price you are given is rarely the final price. Don’t worry if you don’t get the hang of it at first – like anything, practice makes perfect – just keep trying and you’ll get better. What people don’t realise is that you can barter in Western countries too, it’s just called negotiating!

The most important thing is to remember that if you are happy with the price then it’s a good price. Don’t get too hung up on arguing over 20 cents. If you feel like you’re getting a good deal then take it and you’ll both be left feeling happy with the transaction.

A budget-conscious traveler buying fruit at an outdoor market during backpacking.

5. Travel slowly

This is one of the best ways you can save money in the long run. Often the most expensive part of travelling is the actual travelling – e.g. planes, trains and automobiles. If you’re flexible and willing to spend a longer time in each place then you can save a lot of money. You also get the chance to experience a lot more of the culture. Any seasoned traveller will tell you – it’s the quality of the experience, not the quantity of places you see that matters. As an added incentive, as you explore the area more you will start to find all the cheapest and lesser-known places to eat, drink and hang out – saving you even more money.

A backpacker sitting on the steps of a building.

6. Remember your budget

The most important thing you can do when travelling on a budget is to stick to your budget. I cannot emphasize this enough.

 

For example, if you spend $25 in one day, make sure you only spend $15 the next day. That means over two days you spent $40 (or $20 a day). You’ll be surprised how easy it is to do and how much fun you can have while spending next to nothing.

Have a travel story to share and want to become a community contributor for six-two? Find out more here, and you could go into the running to earn travel with Contiki.

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