Top tips to travel cheap as a backpacker

Backpacking in Te Anau, New Zealand

I always come across fellow travelers who ask me how to travel around the world without burning a hole in your pocket.

For those who are constantly on the road they know their way around to live and travel cheaply. But if you are just starting out as a newbie traveler you might be looking for tips to travel economically.

So I am here to give you some tips. Perhaps you are traveling before going to pursue your university degree or taking a break from your career because you are tired of your desk job. Either way this article might shed some light on your

1. Stay with locals or in hostels

The best way to experience the local cultural experience is to stay with the locals. For this don’t look any further than platforms such as Couchsurfing or BeWelcome. There are millions of hosts on Couchsurfing platform from every corner of this planet. They are willing to host you for free. They welcome you to their house and even show you around their city and indulge you in the local delicacies. But remember while their hospitality is free their place is not.

Hostels are great when you are looking to connect with fellow backpackers. But you have to high tolerance for partying/boozing and loud noise in your dorm rooms. Many hostels like this one in Kotor, Montenegro (Old town hostel) or Adventure Q2 hostel in Queenstown, NZ offers many social activities like games, cooking classes, live music, pub crawls etc.

2. Use local SIM card or Wifi

Local sim cards are inexpensive in many developing countries. That covers most of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Make sure your phone is unlocked in order to use the prepaid service locally.

We have a separate blog post on the cheapest prepaid data services around the world.

Free ubiquitous wifi internet can be found in most developed countries (Germany, Spain, Japan) and in some developing countries like Croatia. You will usually find free wifi networks in downtown area, metro stations, shopping malls and Starbucks or 7Eleven stores. Some cities like Hong Kong, Glasgow, Madrid and Berlin even have free wifi on their public buses.

3. Go to the local markets for food

When I travel I try to hit the local markets where you find the best local delicacies at an affordable price. Also here is one place to can connect with the locals and experience the culture. Most markets have a lunch menu like this one in Oaxaca, Mexico or Krakivsky Market in Lviv, Ukrainne. Korea and Thailand are amazing for this.

4. Use public transportation or Uber

Most developed countries have excellent public transportation infrastructure that includes metro, bus, ferry and cable cars. If you plan to stay for a 3 or 5 days in a city try using the 3 day or a 5 day transportation card {like this one I used in Madrid) that gets you everywhere for a cheaper price.

Madrid metro 3 day pass is about 18 Euros

Uber is a great option in developing countries as it is much easier to get around the city at any time of the day or night.

5. Use travel insurance for any emergency medical needs

As a backpacker you are traveling to new destinations and experiencing new adventures. Many of the insurance policies / plans you have at home may not cover your emergency needs outside your country in case if the need arises. So it may be a safe bet to get a travel insurance that atleast covers high level emergency issues. Plus it gives you a great sense of comfort and security.

Best travel insurance in the market

I recommend going with SafetyWing travel insurance that has insurance coverage in almost all the countries in the world. The rates are pretty good as well. The reason I mention this is that if you are unprepared for some unexpected injury or accidents, going to a hospital or clinic could cost you a fortune. As they say it is better to be safe than sorry.

Expert Blogger
Chan is an avid traveler and a tech entrepreneur. He loves nature, philosophy and astronomy.