As the chosen method of travelling for many young adventurers, backpacking offers a wealth of flexibility and independence on any trip. However, travelling in any form can be expensive, especially if you’re venturing as a young student, unable to save up from full time work. Whilst the expenses of travel may seem like a huge hurdle, some forward planning tops can make it is possible to embark on that trip of a lifetime whatever size your budget.
Hostels are an easy, sociable and cost effective accommodation option for any backpacking trip and many have the option of dorm and private rooms, depending on your preference. Booking your hostels in advance is a sure way to save money, as turning up the night you need a bed can often cost you at least £15 more than if you booked a few weeks in advance. When booking hostels be sure to triple check each booking site for the best deal. Sometimes booking directly through the hostels’ own website guarantees you the best deal, and booking directly also frequently provides the option of a free breakfast, meaning you won’t have to spend an extra £5 on overpriced coffee every morning.
Whilst trains may seem like an attractively fast option for travelling, make sure to double check ticket prices against coach services before booking your interrail ticket. If you’re considering visiting numerous stops on your trip, coaches or buses are often a far cheaper alternative. For example, whilst a train from Paris to Amsterdam can cost you upwards of £30, you can do the same journey by coach for £15. Yes, it may take a few hours longer but your bank account will thank you later. There are also plenty of ways to book cheap flights if you’re going further afield. Checking flights frequently is the best way to ensure you get the cheapest deals, as well as browsing in incognito mode, as search engines can track your internet history and hike up ticket prices.
It is possible to use your credit or debit card in most countries when travelling abroad, but be aware that most banks charge a 3% fee every time you use your card overseas. For a long haul trip, it may be worth researching travelcard options to save yourself some extra money. You can purchase travelcards which carry at least five of the largest currencies from any Post Office or supermarket, but I would recommend using an online banking system to get the best deals. Companies such as Monzo and Revolut allow you to spend money in any country without the 3% transaction fees imposed on your card. You can also control your banking through an app, meaning it’s easy to keep track of your expenses and you can cancel your card if it gets lost or stolen.
As mentioned previously, take advantage of the free hostel breakfast if it’s included in your booking. They’re often fairly basic, but if you’re on a very tight budget they are a godsend. Buying lunch or dinner from a supermarket is also a great way to save money, particularly if you’re in an expensive city. Whilst it is fun to try local dishes in a cafe or restaurant, you can find that each country will have different cheap delicacies just in a local supermarket, so you definitely won’t be scrimping on foodie culture!
When budgeting for your trip, remember it’s ok to allow your budget to have some flexibility based on the countries or cities you go to. It’s surprising how similar places can have vastly different costs of living, so having a set amount put by for each day can often leave you strapped for cash in some destinations, but with plenty spare in others. Researching accommodation, transport and activities in advance will help you to plan a realistic budget, and can ensure a cost-effective trip of a lifetime.
Have you ever gone backpacking, or have any hot tips for would-be travellers? Why not leave them in the comments!