The fact that you’ve decided to go backpacking probably indicates that you’re on a bit of a budget (unless of course you’re one of those yuppies who likes to “rough it” to “see how the other side lives.”)
Keeping a strict budget can be hard when travelling, especially for those who have never gone backpacking before and are unsure of what to expect.
Here are a few ways to save money while backpacking for peace of mind and wallet:
At restaurants, ask for the dish of the day
In France it’s the Plat du Jour, and in Spain it is the Menu del Dia. In many non- North American countries, restaurants will cook up a big batch of whatever the special is, and serve it at a fixed price (for less money than many other menu items). Usually, this dish will come with a drink and a dessert as well!
Cook your own meals
Depending what country you’re in and the cleanliness of the local produce, it might make sense to you to cook instead of eat out. If you do this at least once a day you can balance your foodie ambitions with your budget restrictions!
Not only does this help local farmers, it’s also better for the environment for you to consume local goods. Check out the best markets in your destination before you go and make a point to hit them up!
Take advantage of the free breakfast at your hostel
One of the best things about staying at hostels is that many of them include a free breakfast. I get it though, usually these breakfasts are so bland you end up skipping them in favour of a local cafe or pastry shop. Keep your wallet in mind though and at least snag a couple pieces of fruit to snack on later!
If you know you’re in a country where it is safe to drink the tap water, make sure you specifically ask for it when ordering. In many countries (especially Europe) simply asking for water with your meal will mean a fancy brand name bottle of water on your table and an extra charge on your bill.
Take the bus, not the train
Trains are easily more romantic than even the most luxurious bus, but often they are also more expensive. If you’re not in a hurry, book a bus over the train and save yourself some dough.
Generally, people hate sleeping on buses; and because of this, overnight bus rides are almost always the cheapest option. Grab a travel pillow, blanket, earplugs, and sleeping mask and settle in for a bumpy ride.
Try out BlaBlaCar
BlaBlaCar, a widely used option (especially in Europe), is essentially a carpooling service that connects drivers with travellers who need rides. People with cars will post on the website what their route is and how much money they are asking for, and travellers can respond to those posts.
BlaBlaCar is almost always cheaper than taking a train, and you get to meet some locals while you’re at it!
Research a few destinations beforehand and look at what the average daily costs are of travelling to each place. Less expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to less luxurious or boring, just do your homework beforehand!
Take your student card
Entrance to certain museums and public attractions can be made cheaper simply by showing your student I.D. while buying your ticket. Don’t leave it at home!
Almost every city on the planet is home to a company willing to give you a free walking tour. Just google “free walking tour” upon arriving in your destination and see what’s available
However, while these tours are technically “free”, it is customary to tip your guide – it’s their time and information you’re enjoying after all!
Visit museums on “free” days
Many major museums will have one day either a week or month when you can enter for free. If your schedule allows, take advantage of these days and make sure you show up early to skip the line!
Whenever you’re in a place with good WiFi, be sure to download a Google Map of your next destination. These maps work offline and take up minimal room on your smartphone or tablet. This will save you having to buy a paper map or use up your precious international data.