Confused Matthew

Advice for Budget Backpacking

Let’s get one thing out the way, right off the bat, which is that if you identify as a budget backpacker, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re perceived to be a poor hippie who decided to just go out and see the world, one way or the other. Worrying about perceptions is something you’ll also need to rid yourself of though, if you’re to crack it as a budget backpacker, because as much as many backpackers just choose this budget travelling route is to save as much money as possible so that they can see a whole lot more of the world. Who cares if some posh-looking high-rolling traveller turns their nose up at your budget backpacking ways?

They’re not going to buy you a business class ticket, are they? So forget them and focus on some sage advice to apply for budget backpacking the way it should be done.

Travel light

Look, I know some people really love the colder climate destinations of this world like Iceland and the north of Canada, but those are usually very expensive places in any case, so you wouldn’t really be looking to stay long in such places. That said, it’s all about travelling light as a budget backpacker, something which can be achieved much more easily during the warmer summer months or if you’re visiting those destinations which have summer-like weather all year round.

The rule of thumb is if it cannot fit into your airline maximum dimensions limit and you essentially cannot take it with you on the plane as carry-on luggage, you should leave it behind. Pack the bare essentials and travel as light as possible. There will be less to worry about and you’ll learn all about budget backpacker friendly goods such as fast-drying clothes or thermal garments, for those who insist on backpacking in the colder locations of this world.

Plan longer stays, where possible

Generally this rule applies across accommodation classes which span the entire cost-spectrum, so it’s not just with backackers’ hostels that you should plan to stay as long as possible in order to take advantage of so-called “long-stay” deals and such.

If you’ve been to a specific hostel before which you like, contact them directly and make a reservation that way as this is how you get prices that are free of the commission otherwise associated with using online booking platforms, which do indeed have their place in the lives of budget backpackers’, granted.

Learn to speak and don’t be afraid to ask questions directly

Hey, there’s a reader of ours who went to Thailand and was disappointed with the price he was quoted for a four-bed dormitory he was to stay in and upon voicing his concerns he was asked how much he wants to pay. Obviously he had to be reasonable with his “offer,” which was accepted. The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask, ask and ask some more. Sometimes the owners or managers are more than willing to help you out, perhaps in return for something like in-turn helping out with laundry, checking guests in, etc, as part of something like a work-away.

Make friends

It’s as simple as fellow backpackers instantly seeing each other as long-lost family members, so make friends and you’ll be in for some group cost-sharing exercises which can slash your expenditure right in half.

Make use of online search platforms

Naturally this is probably where you’ll start in searching for flights and hostels to book as part of your budget backpacking trips, but the key to it is consistency. I alternate between Booking.com and Agoda, for instance, because via Agoda I can get instant cash back which I can use to book free nights or reduce booking costs next time I book accommodation, while with Booking.com the perks build up to be deployed once they’ve become significant.

Become a travel booking affiliate

While you’re at it with the online booking platforms, sign up as an affiliate and ask fellow travellers to book via your affiliate link each subsequent time they book. You will make some good money that way which goes straight into your bank account.

Essential budget backpacker skills

– Doing your laundry

– Economising with food

– Learning how to have fun freely

– Get comfortable with walking long distances

– Hunting deals, bargains and finding value where the locals find it