10 Ways to Save Big Money while Backpacking

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10. Book your flights way in advance.

Budget airlines like Air Asia, Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airlines love to release ridiculously cheap fares over a year before their scheduled departure times.  If you choose to book only a week or two before your intended date of travel, be prepared to shell out big time in comparison to your proactive travel buddies.

9. Find a local grocery store and find it fast.

Let’s admit it – everyone loves to sample different restaurants when they travel. But this can empty your wallet in no time.  Creating a balance between eating out and cooking your own store bought food at the hostel/guesthouse you are staying at can prolong your trip by freeing up some much needed cash.  Find a local grocery, stock up and save.

8. Book overnight buses and trains to avoid accommodation costs.

If you are tight for cash it doesn’t make sense to leave on a long bus trip in the morning and soak up most of the day when you could have travelled at night and saved the accommodation costs.  If you are a light sleeper then this may not be the best choice, but saving accommodation costs (especially in first world countries) may be well worth it.  Regroup the next day and enjoy the extra cash flow.

7. Haggle for Accommodation Prices

When you show up to your guesthouse or hostel it never hurts to ask what the going rate is.  If the neighborhood is pretty quiet then you stand a pretty solid chance of getting a discount especially if you choose to stay more than one night. If the country you are visiting is more tailored for booking online (like Japan for instance) then shop around using large hotel websites that allow for price comparisons. Here are a few of our favourites:

www.hotelscombined.com         www.agoda.com       www.booking.com

6. Travel in Low Season

The term wet season is a really scary term for many travellers. Realistically, however, in many countries around the world, wet season merely means above average rain levels.  In Southeast Asia for instance, wet season is often 30 minutes to an hour per day of rain in the late afternoon. When booking a trip just remember – as the rain falls so too do accommodation prices.

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5. Break the Shyness and Carpool

It’s amazing how often you will randomly meet the same backpackers on your trip in different cities.  This is because they have also done their research and want to explore the same special places.  Next time you land at an airport or get off a bus, break your shyness and ask to split a cab. You will be utterly surprised by how many similar-minded travelers are out there.

4. Avoid Airport Taxis

Probably one of the most cost effective walks in the world has to be from the airport lobby to the nearest public road. Don’t you just hate it when you show up to an airport that offers only inflated airport taxi services and no other forms of transport (minivans, public buses, MRT, etc.). Don’t be fooled by the signs and taxi touts when you reach the arrival hall.  Instead, do your research beforehand and check how far it is from the airport to the nearest road with public transit services.  Take a quick walk from the airport and your fare may be sliced in half in no time.

3. Keep your Luggage Under 7 kg’s

With the majority of budget airlines charging additional money for checked luggage, try to downsize what you bring.  If you are backpacking for a long time it may be a stretch to keep your luggage under 7 kg’s, but for trips under a week it is a realistic possibility. Check out our related article which describes in detail how to keep your wallet heavy but your backpack light when travelling.

2. Shop around before Booking a Tour

If you are in a busy tourist area, it’s shocking how the same day trip and/or tour can vary so much in cost. The optimistic assumption we often make is that if they are charging more then the tour must have a better lunch, or they must have a cleaner tour bus, etc.  In some cases this may be true, but the point is that you have to ask about these specific details at different travel agencies before booking. It’s not uncommon for backpackers to discuss the cost of the tour on the tour only to find out that each person has paid significantly different prices. Make sure you are on the bottom end of this range.

1. Avoid Changing Currency at Airports

You see it at every airport.  Immediately after arrival a huge line of tourists emerge at money exchange booths to convert large sums into the local currency at exorbitant rates.  If you have no other options, convert only a fraction of your money over to local currency at the airport and then exchange accordingly at a local bank branch or a private money changer. Always remember to check what the most recent conversion rate is before your flight to save risk of being ripped off.

3 thoughts on “10 Ways to Save Big Money while Backpacking”

  1. I agree with the first and last tip. I have only traveled to another country twice and both times, we booked in Cebu Pacific. You are right, they offer ridiculously low prices. We booked 3 months in advance and took advantage of a 75% discount on airfare promo and saved a fortune.

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