The most common excuse that people use for not traveling, is that they don’t have money. Well, money it is a factor that we should always consider, but the most important factor is YOU. There are many ways to travel for longer periods and don’t spend a fortune. Backpacking is definitely the way of doing this and we have some good tips from our own experience, that will help you for your travels:
- Pack light
The philosophy of Backpacking is ‘’less is more’’. Stick to this rule of thumb and you will not regret it. We all remember our first vacations, when we took a huge suitcase with 10 shorts, 15 t-shirts, etc, and we ended up using less than half of them! When backpacking, choose carefully what you carry and bring only the most important stuff. This will give you flexibility to see more things, be less tired and save money in transportation.
- Book online a cheap flight to get the best deal
If you ask 10 people on a flight what they paid for their ticket, you will get 10 very different answers. How to find a cheap flight has become something of a dark art. Although you can use a travel agent or one of the thousand websites to check prices, try booking your flight directly from the actual airline’s website. This cuts out a middleman that will add some fees and may screw up your reservation as well (e.g., seat preference, frequent flier program, etc) when it is passed along to the airline. Put your email address in the newsletters to get notified about the best deals and always use frequent flier programs. Getting rewarded may take years, but the miles DO add up and may come in handy in the future.
- Use your credit/debit card but ALSO carry some cash
Many new travellers are surprised to find out that they will usually get the best international exchange rates from the local ATMs. With only a few exceptions, you’ll find Western-connected ATMs nearly everywhere that you travel, so your debit card is the best choice to exchange money. One good advice is NOT to put the card in your wallet, but keep it separate, maybe together with your passport in your money belt just in case you lose your wallet or they steal it. Last but not least, it is definitely recommended to always carry an amount of cash with you in a widespread currency like US dollars, as you might need it in some cases.
- Get a hostel with a kitchen
First of all, book a hostel/backpackers instead of a hotel. You will meet a lot of people like you and it will not feel as just a place to sleep. Secondly, it is also important before you choose your hostel, to see if there is a communal kitchen or complimentary breakfast. Most of the times, there is kitchen available for use, with some utensils and cooking items. Making a couple of meals at your hostel will save you and your friends quite an amount of money, especially in expensive cities.
- Use your feet
It may feel easier to hop on a taxi and get to a destination, but don’t do it! Taxis in some cities are really expensive and adding up fees for luggage, potential secret tourist fees, it could cost a fortune! Walking a bit extra is good for your body and then the environment, not to mention your wallet. You get to experience more of the city as well. If something is too far, like the airport, take the bus or metro, most cities are well connected for transport and the fees tend to be much cheaper than taxis.
- Bring your owns snacks
Bringing some energy bars or fruits from the local grocery store with you during the day can help fight off hunger cravings in between meals. Apart from the fact that it is much healthier than grabbing sandwiches and muffins all the time, it also helps you to save lots of money that you can use for other things.
- Do your research
Although a large aspect of the backpacking experience should be spontaneity, this doesn’t mean that a bit of prior research should be avoided completely. It is always useful to read some guides and reviews for some places to get an idea and some inspiration about where to go and what to do. Try to find the balance between having everything planned and haven’t researched anything! Be flexible and change your plans when it is worth it.
- Save money on attractions
Once you hit the road, you may have noticed that money disappear lot quicker than you have expected. Don’t panic! There are many ways to save money without sacrificing all the top tourist attractions that you’ve always dreamed of visiting. If you have a student ID remember to flash it as much of possible, it could be your key to free entry and massive discounts on some big attractions. Don’t forget to see also if the places you are visiting have free days or evenings. If you want to visit many attractions, consider buying an attraction pass that will save you a remarkable amount of money.
- Be careful of pickpockets and scammers
Many countries around the world, even the most cosmopolitan, have some form of pickpockets and scam artists. These people are well trained and have exceptional skills to feed on tourists. They can spot from far away, that you are not local and try to take advantage of you. Never give your card or pay deposits to a not officially registered agency. Keep always your eyes open and be extra cautious if an unusual behaviour catches your attention. Darkness and alcohol are the two factors that make things more dangerous sometimes.
- Speak with the locals
Traveling to a country is to see its sights, monuments, countryside, cuisine but more important to immerse yourself with the people and their culture. It is the people that make a place look different. Instead of letting your maps and ipad guiding you, ask the local people around you where is a good and cheap place to eat, where can you do a quite and beautiful stroll, etc. They will most of the times give you the best tips and secrets of the city that you don’t find in the touristic guidebooks.