Money Saving Tips for Backpackers
There are many ways to save money while traveling, but they will vary based on your travel style. The following money saving tips are geared towards budget travelers such as backpackers.
1. Travel to cheap countries.
If you are leaving from the US, consider traveling to SE Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) or Latin America (less Chile). Your dollar is going to go a long way in these locations. Western Europe, New Zealand and Australia will blow your budget quickly.
2. Stay in hostels
Hostels are much cheaper than hotels and can offer you a great social environment for meeting other travelers. Hostels do offer private rooms, but there are usually communal kitchen, which can save you even more money on food expenses.
3. Take the bus
Flights from point A to point B can quickly eat at your travel budget. When possible take a bus ride to your next location. If it’s a long overhaul, consider an overnight bus, which will also save you money on accommodation for the evening.
4. Book hostels ahead of time
If you are really concerned with saving every dollar, research your lodging before you arrive at a destination. When you take the time to search online ahead of time, you can feel comfortable that you didnt’ get ripped off. If you wait until you arrive, you will be forced to walk to every hostel asking for their best price. This is long, tedious and you still aren’t guaranteed to find the best rate.
5. Book tours late
There are two examples I will provide for saving money when booking tours. A Macchu Picchu visit booked online in the United States will cost you 2-3x more compared to booking in Cusco, Peru a day or two before your visit. The same applies to visiting the Galapagos Islands. It will be more difficult in the sense that you will have to shop around the different tourist offices and haggle for price, but if your intent is to save money, this is how you do it.
6. Share meals
If you are traveling as a couple consider sharing one entre in restaurants.
7. Avoid ATM fees
Before departing on your trip, set up a bank account that doesn’t charge and reimburses you for ATM fees. You will rack up a lot of expenses during your trip, because ATMs is the number one source for accessing your cash.
8. Avoid credit card exchange rate fees
You will need to use a credit card for renting cars and purchasing plane tickets. If you are overseas most credit cards will charge you up to 3% as an exchange rate fee. There are a few credit cards that don’t charge, such as CapitalOne.
9. Use Skype
Sign up for Skype if you intend to call back home to family and friends. Skype offer’s plans for specific countries and it will save you a lot of money when compared to using an international cell phone plan. Internet cafes are all over the world and most hostels and hotels offer wifi or a computer station for use.
10. Use an international phone that accepts chips
Even if you have an international plan on AT&T, it will be expensive to use it overseas. Many other countries in the world allow the use of chips in the phones. Most international AT&T phones will have a chip slot accessible. Find a phone on eBay that accepts chips and purchase it. You can then purchase these small chips in each country at a normal convenience store for the number of minutes you want. The chips can be refilled when you run out of minutes. Use this for making phone calls within the country you are visiting.
These tips can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on the length of your trip. I was able to save $600 in ATM fees over 11 months by opening an account which reimbursed me for the fees. Budget travel is definitely a more difficult way to travel, but it’s also more gentle on your savings account.
Jason Castellani and his wife, Aracely travel around the world documenting their adventures on their travel blog. They share their backpacking experiences through HD adventure travel videos, travel photos and writings. Follow their journey for couple travel tips, destination information, adventure, inspiration and entertainment.