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What if you could see the world and have an incredible time on a mini-budget?
Despite fresh memories of a student life eating baked beans, if you play smart you won't have to pinch every penny you got for your gap year or ultimate adventure.
The best part?
While being a backpacker you have the chance to experience humanity at its best (See Tip 1) you get the power to adopt a stubborn refusal to pay more than what really makes you happy (See Tip 9).
Sounds pretty cool right?
Lets dive right into the journey of a lifetime!
1. Couch surf
If you need to save money while on your trip there may be no better way than by couch surfing. Highly underrated as you connect with cultures and the individuals within!
Couchsurfing is where you stay with a local at their place, most probably, you will have to take the couch and in lucky cases, a proper bed, all for free.
The really cool part?
At first glance it may seem like couch surfing is a one way street to cheap digs.
Reality is that it can be so much more.
This usually starts by helping them a little, making something from your national cuisine or even teaching them your language – the opportunities to share are huge, endless and so easy to do.
As anyone who has done it will attest, couch surfing is an amazing experience which saves a lot of money. It also enriches you with incredible experiences that you could never know without the help of a local.
One of the beauties of couch surfing is local knowledge.
2. Travel like a local
Even if you don't couch surf getting to know a local to two or simply getting out of your comfort zone and asking questions of locals is a great way to save bucket loads.
Locals know the coolest bars, the best value food stalls and cool things to do for nothing.
Basically anything that costs money will usually be done cheaper and often better by locals.
Consider taking local transport most of the time - camels, trains, buses, trams among others please. In almost all countries around the globe, you will find transport services exclusively for tourists. Do not subscribe to any of it as these services are overcharged. Stick to trains and buses that locals use.
OK so now we have free accommodation, cheap transport the next biggest expense is food.
3. Cook your own meals
There is a lot of temptation to eat out while you are visiting new and exciting places and clearly you should as much as your budget allows!
But here is the flip side.
The key to successfully making you own meals often means embracing the local people, culture and cuisine.
Local supermarkets have high quality and really cheap food especially if you eat like the locals. And a lot of hostels have incredible kitchens. Therefore, buy food in local supermarkets and cook it yourself. Nothing better than spending just a few dollars, spending some time with other travellers and sleeping fulfilled with adventures dancing around in your head for the next day.
Ohh and if you can't cook. Maybe it's an opportunity to ask someone for help?
4. Dine in local restaurants
Avoid eating in restaurants full of foreigners – especially foreigners on a holiday. Even if you find food that you are familiar with, it is obvious that you will have to pay more.
Rather, familiarize yourself with local food and visit local street food vendors and restaurants. This will surely save you bucket loads and you get to experience the best culture that your destination has to offer.
On the subject of food lets talk about alcoholic drinks like beer, spirits and wine. These can often be a relatively expensive especially if you go the tourist route or even if you buy it from bars or restaurants. It is often much better to figure out what the locals do.
For example, in many countries when you buy beer or wine you are actually paying for the glass bottle as well and there is a healthy deposit attached to it that you get back on your next purchase!
5. Get a travel partner
This may not be the best option for everyone but you would be surprised how easily this can happen if you want it to. Apart from having someone to experience adventures with a travel partner many things can be significantly cheaper. All of a sudden hostel rooms will be half as much and taxi costs will be less - among other things.
In case you do not find a travel partner at home, the key to finding a worthy travel partner is getting to know them a little first. You are probably going to make friends with lots of cool individuals but travelling with others requires a special chemistry.
Although not always practical walking can be embraced for the extra goodness it bring. Going slow as a backpacker enables more meaning chats with local, special moments and awareness of the little thing.
Obviously when using your feet rather than using other transport means can require a surprising amount of endurance and strength so as a benefit you can get fit and be healthy.
7. Wisely choose backpacker travel insurance
Most insurance aimed at travellers is for tourists and not freedom and adventure seekers like you.
Please what ever you do - make sure are covered.
Most important is medical coverage, but as backpackers we have other obvious needs – like our smartphone or laptop.
But what about coverage for the activities we will be doing?
We also often need flexibly to match our flexible travel plans.
Normal travel insurance for tourists does not do this well - either cheaply or at all.
However, specialist backpacker travel insurance is meant for individuals who travel for long periods of time and who want to work (and be covered) and do activities like snowboarding or hiking.
We also need flexibly in the insurance we take out as it is quite common for us to want to stay for a month or two longer somewhere.
It is wise to get the right policy for you. Check out World Cover Tips. Depending on your needs and nature of your trip the key it to select the appropriate cover at a reasonable price.
8. Pick up word abroad
You can always find an opportunity to help out the locals in exchange for some cash. Usually this is best done through a work visa but volunteering in many countries can be a great way to get food and board in exchange for your efforts. This will help you get through your travels without spending but rather - generating some income!
Above all, you will have created valuable relationships and will likely even learn some great things too.
9. Pack minimalist (not just light)
Learning to live with less is surely one of the great joys of backpacking. Not only will avoid extra baggage fees on airlines and chiropractic expenses, but being happy with less means you get to travel more cheaply and appreciate what is really important – potentially forever.
10. Travel in the "smart season"
Travelling in the low season can often make perfect sense when it comes to saving some money. However, for some activities it is not ideal. For instance, you cannot backpack to Mexico in August to watch whales which are in Antarctica enjoying summer.
Nevertheless, most of the destinations are great even out of season. Activities, transport and accommodation options often drop their charges off-season, at times by more than half.
Take advantage of that.