If you want to be able to backpack for any amount of time, budgeting needs to be a top priority. Here are several items you can eliminate from your daily expenses in order to make your trip last much longer:
While you might be impressed with how cheap most things are compared to home, alcohol generally doesn’t have a proportionate decrease in price. In many countries, having a beer with your dinner with double your bill. Fancy nightclubs can cost as much or even more than what they do back home. In general, if you drink regularly, alcohol can be one of your top expenses (in some cases higher than food, transportation, or lodging). Moderate this whenever possible.
2. Expensive rooms
Everyone should set their standards somewhere, but it’s worth examining yours when you think about how much you pay for a place to sleep for a few hours. What do you need, really? For many, the answer is just a bed and a door that locks, and a bathroom somewhere in the building. Lodging prices vary dramatically, and you can find guesthouses of reasonable quality for a fraction of what a western-style hotel charges. There is a lot of money to be saved in your sleep.
Sure, your Lonely Planet guidebook makes every restaurant sound wonderful. But as soon as they’re listed, their prices skyrocket and quality generally only decreases. You will find much cheaper and more authentic meals if you’re adventurous enough to eat where the locals do. Whether that means street stalls or hole-in-the-wall joints or homecooked meals from your guesthouse, you can find much cheaper options.
Massive chains like Starbucks and Gloria Jean’s have penetrated just about the entire world, and you shouldn’t be surprised to be coming across them in almost any country. But that double espresso soy latte with caramel sauce probably costs five times as much as other caffeine options. Street stands sell coffee in many countries, and in some places safe ice is even available to help you cool down and recharge at the same time.
If you’re paying an entrance fee to each site you visit and then paying a guide to take you around it, you’ll find your funds depleting fast. In some places, having a knowledgeable guide that speaks your language can drastically enhance your appreciation and understanding. In many cases, however, it’s unnecessary. Get your information from a guidebook, free brochure, or online the next time you pick up wifi.
All of these pointers are not to say that it isn’t worth splurging for yourself once in a while. Long-term travel can take a large toil if you don’t allow yourself some luxuries from time to time. But in general, the frugal traveler is able to stay on the road far longer than the big spender, and you would do well to cut out unnecessary expenses when you can.