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Save Money While Backpacking to Go Further

Rebecca Huber in Hong Kong at the Lantern Festival

Rebecca Huber at the Fall Lantern Festival in Hong Kong while backpacking around the world.

Most of us set out on a backpacking adventure to see the hidden gems of a location but we also backpack it because we love roughin’ it! Leaving your friends at the hostel in the morning with everything you need on your back, and a loose agenda in mind is an energizing feeling of exploration! Other than the obvious freedom, the ability to save money while backpacking is a perk! Here are some tips so you can stretch your money so you can venture further.

Airfare – The cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you can Inside Airplanemake your travel days either of those, then you will save some cash. Also, book your plane tickets 21 days out because that is when the fares are typically the lowest. You can also score betters seats 21 days out. After 21 days, the prices tend to creep up.

Book ahead… sometimes – Let’s say you want to go bungee jumping in London. If you do some homework before you go, you may be able to find discounts online or see if they have discounts for early booking. It might seem a little presumptuous to ask for a discount for early booking, just ask super politely and know that the worst they can say is no. Discounts online and early booking discounts are more comm0n in well developed countries. If you want to go on a yak racing excursion in Mongolia, you may want to wait until you arrive to get the best price. Many museums have free days and also have museum passes, so you can plan a little bit around the free days and all of the fun things included on a pass. Always be sure to ask for student discounts, too!

Hostel Entrance

Hostels – Spend $150 a night by yourself in a hotel and never meet anyone or spend $5-50 a night in a community of travelers and make friends with people familiar with the area? That’s why most backpackers prefer a hostel.  Of course, we all deserve a getaway to a hotel (I always treat myself to a room with a hot tub) but grabbing a bunk bed at a hostel is a great way to save cash. Some hostels include free wifi, cyber cafes, stocked bars, free food exchanges, kitchens and living rooms. You can reserve your hostel ahead of time or you can just show up. It’s highly suggested that you get reservations in very hot cities like Rome and Brussels, but that’s just personal experience talking. Also be sure to know the cancellation rules! There are some different styles of accommodations at hostels that you should expect.

  • There are the wonderful Private Rooms, these are a little more expensive and may or may not come with a private bathroom. Also, expect to pay more for a room with air conditioning.  We paid $16 a night for a private room at a hostel in Bangkok off of Khao San Road with air conditioning, and a private bathroom with hot water. Totally worth it.
  • Dormitory Rooms have multiple beds in a single room. These can be anywhere from 4 beds to 32 beds all behind a single door with shared bathrooms. The dorm rooms can be either single gender or coed, so be aware that you may not be able to bunk with your travel mate of the opposite gender in certain hostels. Be sure to take lots of precautions while staying in a dorm room style hostel. Don’t leave your valuables unsupervised, obviously. Bring a padlock with you to lock your backpack or whatever you are leaving to your bed in a super difficult manor. I prefer to put my bags under the bed and push it to the middle of the bed and lock it to the joists of the bed with all the zippers attached.  Act like a monkey and swing under that bed, by friend! It’s super hard to do and super hard to remove, especially if you’re trying to pick the lock. I had a bag of apples stolen from under my bed once at coed hostel in Amsterdam. True story.

Eat Local – If you skip the well known American chains and eat local food, notItalian Market only will you get to taste the delicacies of the area, but also it’s a lot less expensive! You can save money by cooking for yourself with your hostel-mates with local ingredients. There may be a food exchange pantry, where you can leave non-perishable food that you don’t want to bring along your journey and try foods that were left by others. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt! Enjoy a large lunch as your one large meal of the day and then “graze” the rest of the day to feel full and taste new things. This will keep your costs down. Soda is really expensive too! In Rome, it was $7 for a 12oz bottle of Coca Cola but only $3 for a jug of red wine. Guess what I drank the rest of the time in Rome?

Make Friends – All of that chumming around at the hostel wasn’t for nothing! Rebecca Huber in Brussels with GuildsmanNow you have a couple people that you can share transportation costs with and the costs of activities.

Couch Surfing – Have you heard of this? Basically, it’s a “Pay it Forward” kind of thing where you allow perfect strangers to sleep on your couch in return for being welcomed into other peoples homes to sleep on their couch. Check out to learn more and start surfing!

Public Transportation Passes – Skip that Taxi if you really want to save Tuk Tuksmoney! Unless it’s a tuk tuk… You HAVE to ride in a tuk tuk at least once! If you’re exploring a city, a few coins towards a day or week pass can save you a lot of time while exploring and your feet too!

Nags Head in London

Economy backpackers beware! We found the “Oldest pub in London.” The atmosphere was extremely cool but the product they were serving left much to be desired. 2 warm & mediocre pints, a glob of tuna fish, 4 pieces of white bread, 1/3 of a head of iceberg lettuce and 5 pickles = $40 US 
Just stick with the cocktails and ambiance.


Leave the Tourist Areas – It’s amazing how much more everything costs once you’re in the tourist traps. The restaurants are more expensive, the souvenirs, the basics, everything. Try to get outside of the main tourist hub and you can find cheaper lodging and just about everything else.

What suggestions can you give for fellow backpackers on how to save money so they can adventure on? 

Written by Rebecca Huber, Group Tour Director and Digital Marketing for Joy Tour & Travel. Rebecca has traveled around the world as a backpacker, traveler and student ambassador.

About joytourandtravel

JOY TOUR and TRAVEL has been in operation since 1985. We are fully bonded and insured. We are specialists in many areas of travel. Our staff has traveled extensively to bring you first-hand knowledge of the world. It is our goal to provide quality travel experiences that are of exceptional value to our clients. We are an active member and Co-Owner of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP). This is your assurance that this agency meets the highest standards of financial stability. We have to meet certain criteria to be a member of TAP. TAP is 29 of North America's premier tour operators. We are also a member of (which allows us to get special discounts); the Greater Cincinnati BBB, Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), which allows us to book international, as well as domestic airline itineraries

3 comments on “Save Money While Backpacking to Go Further

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    March 31, 2015

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  3. roger
    June 30, 2015

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