Backpacking can be a little challenging sometimes but after learning a few tricks, it makes enjoying it a lot easier. This short guide is geared towards travelers that:
- Want to travel on a very tight budget.
- Like to enjoy spectacular local food.
- Love experiencing the authentic, especially the people.
Backpacking with a small budget just takes a bit about planning and budgeting. Everything you do in your every day life can also be done while traveling, but it takes a bit more creativity.
Let's kick off by asking the all-important question.
Well, from my experience both traveling and staying at home have their advantages and disadvantages but traveling really forces you to see things differently. It’s hard to put into words, but the past two years on the road have taught me more than all my crappy 27 years of life haha. It’s like spending your whole life eating boring and generic tacos and finally tasting Mexican tacos with creamy and luxurious guacamole. It’s a whole other level of experience that tickles all your senses and makes you grow so much as a human being. Well, that’s if you’re interested in this type of experience 😉
This can probably be as easy or as complex as you want to make it. There are no rules really. I know some people that have left home with no money and traveled for many years. I also know other travelers that worked for many years, saved some cash and traveled for a few months only. My approach was smack in the middle I think. First I received many travelers through a website called couchsurfing, which is like a f@cebook for travelers. I saw many travel styles during this time. After a few months, I picked a style I liked, started buying some travel equipment, sold some of my personal belongings, picked a country I wanted to explore and bought a one-way ticket to that place. I tested the waters by traveling to a neighboring country.
You genuinely don’t need any money to travel. I even know a girl from Finland that traveled for two years without a single penny. But we’re not all like my Finnish friend, so the answer is… it depends how much you want to spend, what you want to experience and what travel style you want to take on. In general, you have three fundamental expenses namely: Food, Accommodation & Transportation. This spells out FAT strangely lol. If you figure out what a typical day will look like traveling, you can find out how much your daily budget needs to be. And if you know how long you want to travel for, you can multiply your daily budget by that time period and voila, you have your budget!
Like I mentioned before, you have three basic expenses: food, accommodation and transportation. So if you want to save money, you can either limit or completely eliminate some of these expenses. During my travels in Mexico, I eliminated everything but food so my daily budget was roughly $5.00 USD a day. I carried a tent with me at all times and I used Couchsurfing to get accommodation 99% of the time. I also went a little extreme and only hitchhiked to move around. So that allowed me to travel for 10 months with only $1500 USD. While in Colombia I also used work exchange applications like Workaway which you can use to explore a place for a longer period of time. Also, remember fun activities like taking tours and drinking beer can add up. So you can save money by traveling consciously.
This is the best part of being in another country. You get to try out so many new foods. Street food is by far the cheapest and tastiest way to eat. Just be careful and make sure the place is highly recommended or has a lot of foot traffic. I also tend to eat at the local markets because there's always fresh food. Restaurants are also a good choice. There are so many apps to find good restaurants. Since I eat a plant-based diet, I use Happy Cow. After a year of traveling, I even ended up traveling with ingredients in my backpack namely: oatmeal, spices and nuts. You build up a system overtime.
I hate to say it so crudely but being scared is a state of mind and most of the people that tell you the world is dangerous have never stepped out of their cozy home. Think about it, why would you take advice from someone who hasn’t even tried it? The mainstream media also spits out buckets of vomit since those make the best headlines and get the most s. If you’re a female, and you’re worried about safety, you do have a valid point especially in countries where machismo is rampant but adapting is possible for the most part. If my female friend traveled 100,000 km by hitchhiking without a single dollar, I’m sure you can manage to stay safe. Of course, it’s always best to practice basic precaution. Taking out your phone on the streets and dressing too flashy does not help. Being with a local helps a bunch especially if they show you what not to do and where not to go.
Set a deadline, start getting gear ready and just fcking do it!
Until next time :)