Budget Travel: 6 tips for making your travels cost less and last longer

The Broke Backpacker has been travelling the world for eight years on a shoestring budget. Here's his golden advice for cutting costs overseas, to travel further and longer

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1: Work as you go

Man selling hats on the beach (Dreamstime)

I've picked up a lot of random jobs, working in shops, bars and on farms. I’ve even sold hats on the beach. The great thing about working on your travels is that usually you quit after a week or so. I think the longest job I've had on the road was for six weeks.

In terms of how easy it is to find work abroad, it depends on the country. What you’re really looking for is a country full of backpackers. There are always jobs to be had serving other backpackers food and drink and selling them tours. At the end of the day, employers want to hire people who can relate to their target audience. 


2: Hitchhike

Hitchhiker by the roadside (Dreamstime) 

I do a lot of hitchhiking. I hitchhiked all across Europe, through Turkey, up through Georgia, into Azerbaijan and then around Iran for about 3,000km. We weren’t able to hitchhike quite as much as I would have liked in Pakistan because the police kept putting us on a bus, but in some countries it's actually faster than taking the local transport.

The people who stop are usually curious folk who enjoy meeting foreigners. I spent about a year and a half in India travelling by train. After doing a 32-hour journey, sharing a crowded compartment with cows and chickens, it became a little tiring and made me want to start hitchhiking again.


3: Think about your priorities

Cup of coffee (Dreamstime)

In the same way that you save money for travelling, when you’re abroad you’ve got to think: “What is important to me?” Personally, my priority is that the experience lasts as long as possible, until I’m ready to go home. You have to think: "Is it crucial for me to spend money on coffee? Do I need to splash out on a private room when I could just stay in a dorm?"

It’s about having the right attitude and being willing to sacrifice that little bit of comfort so that you can stay out for longer. If you’re smart, it’s possible to travel the world on about a tight budget fairly comfortably. I always keep a weekly budget, plus a little extra for unforeseen costs.


4: Cook your own food

Cooking on portable stove (Dreamstime)

When I'm travelling, I cook a lot of my own food or buy locally. I tend to avoid tourist trap restaurants because they eat up your money. I’ve also got a Pocket Rocket, which is a very small, portable camping stove. Whenever I travel, I take it with me, so I can cook easy dishes like pasta or rice to keep me going.  

Even if you only cook one meal a day you'll save a lot of money, especially if you find yourself suddenly in an expensive city. It’s best to find out what the locals eat. Follow the students because they know where to source cheap food.


5: Cut down on accommodation costs

Camping in the great outdoors (Dreamstime)

We always pack a tent for camping, which is a great way to save money and get off the beaten track. Some of my most memorable experiences have been camping out in the wilderness. 

When we’re not camping, we do a lot of Couchsurfing. It's a great way to meet locals, especially if you’re travelling by yourself. You can land on your feet with the social life as well, which helps you familiarise yourself with the place quickly.


6: Choose cheap countries

Tupopdan mountain in north Karakorum, Pakistan (Dreamstime)

I’m very careful about which countries I travel to. I stayed in Japan on a tight budget but it was very challenging. I could have one meal out and it exhausted my daily budget. I Couchsurfed and hitchhiked to save money, but when I couldn’t find a host, I had to sleep rough in parks, even in the freezing cold.

I prefer travelling to cheaper countries like Nicaragua, Columbia, Pakistan and IranDestinations where you can survive on almost nothing are better overall. 

I’ve been travelling almost non-stop for nine years and it wouldn’t have been possible without picking affordable places to visit. There are about 100 cheaper countries to choose from, so it's best to visit those first before the expensive ones.


The Broke Backpacker aims to advise, inspire and inform budding adventurers to quit their jobs and travel the world to discover new career and lifestyle opportunities. Check out www.thebrokebackpacker.com for more details. 

Main image: Will Hatton (Will Hatton)

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