We have put together a few tips to help you balance the books on that backpacking trip:
- Draw up a budget before you leave. Look at how long you are going for first. Then look at each country. How long are you staying in each one. How much is accommodation, food, tours etc in each country. Google a cost of living tool online. Calculate the cost of your flights and any buses or trains you have to take. Now create a template on excel or download one online.
- As you travel around, keep a diary of what you spend. This will help you stay focused.
- Double rooms cost only slightly more than single rooms in many cases. So travel with someone else to reduce the costs.
- Try to stay away from tourist areas when shopping or eating, as these tend to be more expensive. Go where the locals go.
- Consider traveling out of season, or to countries with a low cost of living.
- If you avoid the major cities and concentrate on the smaller cities you will inevitably save money.
- When abroad, eat from street carts and supermarkets. Avoid restaurants if possible, you will spend a lot of money here.
- Consider hiring campervans. Or enquire about relocating a campervan for a hire company. They will cut you a deal if they need a vehicle moved to another of their offices in a different city.
- Book a seat on overnight trains to save on accommodation.
- Consider camping. A space at a campsite will save you a lot of money. Make sure to book into a campsite that has good transport links into the city. Also consider the cost of this transport when comparing to a city centre hotel or hostel.
- If you own a car, offer lifts on notice boards so you can cut the costs of fuel. If you don’t have a car advertise for a lift, there’s always someone looking to cut costs. This does come with risks however.
Bank charges and exchange rates
- Avoid changing currency at an airport. They always have the worst rates.
- When exchanging currency, use cash or a debit card, not a credit card as they charge a cash withdrawal fee.
- Debit cards are cheap to use in the Eurozone, but more expensive outside.
- Withdrawing cash from credit cards outside the Eurozone can include cash withdrawal fees, handling fees and currency conversion fees.
- Generally you are better off using ATMs or credit cards in the country you are in rather than using a currency exchange as you will get better rates. Find out before you leave how much your bank charges for ATM withdrawals, etc.
- The general rule here is make a few large withdrawals, not lots of smaller ones.
- If using your credit card for a purchase, always choose the local currency and not your home currency. There can be high rates on exchange.
- Ideally lodge money into your credit card before you leave to avoid some interest charges from your bank.
Work as you go
If possible save as much money as you can before you go, but remember you can always work as you go. Many countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada offer working visas to travelers. Do your research before you go. Our destinations page includes information on visa requirements in countries around the world.