Backpacking On A Budget

How Much Money Do You Need To Be A Backpacker Traveller? Expert Guide To Travelling On A Budget

Budget Backpackers are one of the five different types of Travel Backpackers. What is so great about travel backpacking is that it offers a very possible affordable avenue to explore the globe. Let's delve deeper into the art of budget backpacking, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies needed to traverse continents without depleting the bank.

Crafting Your Budget Travel Backpacking Blueprint: The Preparation Phase

Before setting foot on foreign soil, planning a bit is a must. Begin by outlining a budget, accounting for expenses such as accommodation, transportation, meals, and activities. This financial roadmap will serve as your guiding light throughout your journey, ensuring fiscal responsibility without dampening the spirit of adventure.

There is a simply formula for a travel backpacker's budget.

Accommodation + Food + Transportation Costs + Activities = The Budget

Here are the four factors that will go into your daily budget while you are travelling. 

Additionally, you'll have one-time expenses before the trip. Such as the airline ticket, travel insurance, vaccinations, passport fees, and purchasing all your essential travel gear.

To budget for Accommodation and Food expenses, Google the average daily price for accommodation and food in the country you plan to visit. Always round up these estimates to accommodate unforeseen expenses or instances where you opt for pricier alternatives.

The primary contributors to expenditure will be Transportation Costs and Activities.

Transportation Costs can accumulate swiftly as you travel, even when utilizing cost effective services like buses and trains and avoiding air travel. It's important to outline your transportation plans between major destinations and estimate associated costs to foresee any surprise expenses. Also, if you can buy these tickets ahead of time, do so.

For Activities, research what interests you the most about the destination you are going to. You don't have to do everything or see something just because it's popular. Really understand what interests you the most will help you financially plan accordingly.


Choosing Your Budget-Friendly Destinations. What Is The Cheapest Country To Stay At For Travel Backpackers?

Selecting destinations conducive to frugal exploration can significantly influence the overall cost of your backpacking trip. Look to regions renowned for their affordability, such as Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and parts of South America. 

Here are the Top 10 countries for Budget Backpack Travellers. 

Thailand: Known for its stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and rich culture, Thailand offers a plethora of budget accommodation options, from hostels to guesthouses. Street food is abundant and inexpensive, making it easy to dine on a budget. Transportation costs are also relatively low, with options like tuk-tuks and local buses.

Vietnam: With its diverse landscapes, bustling cities, and delicious cuisine, Vietnam is a favorite among budget travelers. Accommodation, especially in smaller cities and towns, is affordable, and street food is both tasty and cheap. Public transportation, such as buses and trains, is also economical.

Cambodia: Home to awe-inspiring temples, lush landscapes, and welcoming locals, Cambodia offers excellent value for budget travelers. Accommodation options range from budget guesthouses to hostels, and street food is incredibly affordable. Entrance fees to major attractions like Angkor Wat are reasonable, making it possible to explore without breaking the bank.

India: With its rich history, diverse cultures, and mouthwatering cuisine, India is a budget traveler's paradise. Accommodation options include budget hotels, guesthouses, and hostels, many of which offer excellent value for money. Street food is abundant and inexpensive, and transportation costs, especially on trains and buses, are relatively low.

Indonesia: From the stunning beaches of Bali to the lush jungles of Sumatra, Indonesia offers a wealth of budget-friendly experiences. Accommodation options range from budget guesthouses to homestays, and street food is delicious and cheap. Travel between islands can be affordable, especially if you opt for local ferries and buses.

Nepal: Home to the majestic Himalayas and rich cultural heritage, Nepal is a haven for budget travelers. Accommodation options include guesthouses and hostels, many of which offer stunning mountain views at reasonable prices. Local food is affordable, and trekking permits and guides can be arranged for a fraction of the cost compared to other destinations.

Bolivia: With its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant markets, and indigenous cultures, Bolivia offers excellent value for budget travelers. Accommodation options range from budget hostels to family-run guesthouses, and local food is both delicious and affordable. Transportation costs, especially on buses, are relatively low, making it easy to explore the country on a budget.

Philippines: With its stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and welcoming locals, the Philippines offers excellent value for budget travelers. Accommodation options range from budget guesthouses to hostels, especially in destinations like Manila, Cebu, and Boracay. Street food is plentiful and affordable, and public transportation, such as jeepneys and tricycles, is inexpensive.

Romania: Known for its picturesque landscapes, medieval towns, and fascinating history, Romania is a budget-friendly destination in Eastern Europe. Accommodation options include budget hotels, guesthouses, and hostels, especially in cities like Bucharest, Brasov, and Cluj-Napoca. Local food is hearty and affordable, and transportation costs, including trains and buses, are relatively low.

Laos: With its serene landscapes, ancient temples, and laid-back atmosphere, Laos offers a tranquil escape for budget travelers. Accommodation options range from budget guesthouses to riverside bungalows, especially in destinations like Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. Local food is flavorful and affordable, and transportation costs, such as buses and tuk-tuks, are reasonable.

(Other Travel Backpackers I met while backpacking in Vietnam) 


Equipping Yourself for Adventure: Buying Travel Backpacking Gear on a Budget

Investing in quality gear is essential for a comfortable and safe journey. While the allure of bargain prices may be tempting, prioritize durability and functionality when assembling your backpack. Hunt for deals, explore second-hand markets, or consider borrowing equipment from fellow travelers to strike a balance between quality and affordability.

Understand that the cheapest things sometimes end up the most expensive. What do I mean by that? When I went on a 5-Month backpacking trip, I bought cheap compression packing cubes. One of the compression packing ripped when I was in Albania. Where the hell was I going to get a replacement packing cube there? So I actually had to buy new ones and have them delivered to my future hostel in Montenegro. I don't even want to tell you how much it cost me to get new ones delivered there (shipping fees to Montenegro are insane!). This eventually lead to me developing the highest quality compression packing cube that is still cheaper than the top brands like Eagle Creek or Cotopaxi.

In my opinion, there are some travel accessories that you can go cheap with such as sunglasses. As even cheap sunglasses, can look and function just as good as expensive ones. However, items such as compression packing cubes, travel water bottles, toiletry bags for backpackers, sleep eye masks, and combination cable locks you'll need quality ones.


Check out our Full Backpack Traveler's Packing List!


Travel Backpacker Hacks & Budget Backpacking Tips


Priority One: Travel Insurance

Protecting yourself against unforeseen circumstances is A MUST. Acquire travel insurance coverage to safeguard your financial well-being in the face of emergencies, ensuring peace of mind as you travel backpack in foreign countries.

Travel insurance will be extra helpful if you bring around technology such as laptops or cameras while you backpack. If your laptop were to break while you travel, you want to make sure you are covered. 


Accommodation Alchemy: Search For Cheap Stays

Minimize accommodation costs by embracing alternative lodging options. From bunking in budget hostels to engaging in Couchsurfing or participating in work exchange programs.


On the Move: Capitalizing on Free Transportation

Maximize your mobility while minimizing expenses by leveraging public transit systems, walking whenever feasible, or partaking in safe and culturally acceptable hitchhiking practices. Explore ridesharing platforms or carpooling communities to navigate vast distances without breaking the bank.


Culinary Adventures: Embrace Local Cuisine

Embark on a gastronomic odyssey through the flavors of your host country, sampling street food. By staying away from tourist traps and opting for authentic eating experiences, you'll savor the essence of a culture while stretching your travel backpacker budget.

There are also awesome mobile apps such as Too Good To Go which you can find leftover food that restaurants would have thrown out for very cheap. You just can't be too picky. Sometimes you don't know exactly what they are giving you before you buy it.


Food Smart: Cooking For Yourself

There is nothing wrong with getting food at a grocery store and preparing it yourself. Most budget friendly accommodations have kitchens for you to utilize. Also some hostels that cater to the budget backpacker have free or cheap dinners to partake in. Hostel chains like OneFam even offer a free vegetarian dinner for their guests every day. Usually you just have to sign up beforehand. Check the reviews on Hostel World to see if you find any hostels offering free dinners. 


The Art of Negotiation: Mastering the Haggling Game

In regions where bartering is a cultural norm, hone your negotiation skills to secure favorable prices on goods and services. Whether perusing bustling markets or engaging with street vendors, approach each transaction as an opportunity to forge connections and unearth bargains.

There are some countries where it is very common to haggle. In Egypt, I remember a vendor told my buddy that I was with that something was $100 USD. My buddy ended up getting it for $6 USD; SIX DOLLARS!

Remember, locals will understand local values better than you. If you ever think a vendor is trying to screw you over because they see you as a tourist, just kindly ask a local what the item is worth and if they can help you buy it.

One more tip. If you do the conversion into your local currency and the price is pennies, don't bother haggling. Remember, you are financially privileged enough to be travel backpacking; even if you're on a tight budget.

Don't forget to use a money belt, cross body bag, or cross chest bag if you're ever in a market where there is a lot of haggling and vendors. More than likely, there are also a lot of pickpockets.


Supplementing Your Income: Exploring Work Opportunities Abroad

Embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, embark on teaching English adventures, or pursue transient employment opportunities to sustain your travels. By leveraging your skills and expertise, you can offset expenses while immersing yourself in new cultures and communities.


Strategic Flight Strategies: Soaring Above the Skies Wisely

Exercise flexibility in your travel plans to capitalize on discounted airfare and promotional offers. Utilize flight comparison websites, subscribe to fare alerts, and explore budget airline options to secure affordable passage to your dream destinations.


Strength in Numbers: Finding Travel Companions

Join forces with a fellow wanderer to divide expenses and enhance your travel experience. By sharing costs for accommodations, meals, and transportation, you'll forge lasting memories and cultivate friendships that transcend borders.

I remember when I was travel backpacking in Spain. Three fellow Travel Backpackers and I wanted to see the Caminto Del Rey and Ronda when we were visiting Malaga. It was easier and more cost effective for us to rent a car to visit those two areas and divide the price by four. Public transportation doesn't easily bring you to both areas and the tour groups that do, were very expensive.




I’m Mark, the Founder of Generation Nomad, Avid Travel Backpacker & Digital Nomad. I am passionate about helping others discover the world through my experiences. I solo backpacked for months at a time, lived abroad, and even speak two foreign languages. Besides collaborating on the best lightweight travel accessories for Travel Backpackers, I also love sharing my travel photography.
Favorite Trips: Spain, Egypt & Vietnam 
Favorite Cuisines: Italian, Peruvian & Japanese
Quote: “Be a circle and just roll with it” 
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