Guide to Backpacking on a Budget
Backpacking makes for an exciting travel experience, and it can be satisfying when travellers enjoy the benefits of a cosmopolitan adventure at just a fraction of the cost.
Ways to Save Money
Keen backpackers should start by looking for savings on some of the key ingredients of their expedition – travel, accommodation, food and essential equipment.
Depending on the journey planned it may be that savings are possible on trips by plane, train, bus, car, ferry or boat.
Budget accommodation or special offers on hotels and hostels should be investigated well in advance so a suitable base from which to explore an area can be secured at a relatively cheap cost. Inexpensive food purchases are usually easily found, whether eating in or out, and essential equipment can sometimes be secured from bargain counters, or secondhand equipment is fine as long as it is robust and fit for purpose.
Remember to Pack Just the Bare Necessities
When packing, consider the bare minimum you need to survive and add this to your backpack. There is little point in packing too much when the luggage has to be carried around by you.
For a comfortable roof over head, aim to include a lightweight tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, plus a compact, efficient stove for cooking.
The choice of boots or shoes will be determined by the needs of the terrain where the journey is due to take place. Normally, outerwear should include shorts and trousers, a couple of ‘technical’ t-shirts – designed for outdoor activities, and very quick drying – and a long-sleeved shirt. Waterproofs are considered essential when backpacking in certain climates, such as the UK.
A lightweight jacket and a hat is also a good idea, plus underwear and socks. Also, be sure to include essential medicines or toiletries.
Navigation tools, such as a map or GPS system, are essential. Do remember that signals vary and that a printed map and a good magnetic compass are very useful standbys in case of any difficulties.
Experts advise newcomers to always leave their backpacks 30 per cent empty, to cater for the things they may buy when abroad and any souvenirs they want to bring back home.
Think Smarter, not Harder
Nowadays, a wide variety of Internet campaigns and schemes compete for our attention, especially those ostensibly designed to save money on goods and services, and it is easy to dismiss these as irrelevant when preparing for a backpacking trip. The opposite can be true, however, as advertising enticements such as discount codes can be a real boon to the smart traveller.
For example, look out for discount vouchers that relate to travel deals and a host of savings will be revealed: discounts are available for travel by train, coach or bus, hotel accommodation – which sometimes includes free breakfasts – holidays with a range of companies, flights and airport parking, car hire and visitor attractions. Add to this the retail outlets that provide clothing, medications and equipment and it is possible to finance a great backpacking expedition at relatively little cost.