How do backpackers manage to stretch their hard-earned dollars so far on their travels?
They must know something we don’t know, right? They travel on a shoestring, but still manage to get around and see the sights without it costing them an arm and a leg.
I’ve discovered that there are plenty of ways to save money while backpacking. Here are 6 travel hacks backpackers use to save money!
Taking yoghurt, bananas, and bread rolls from the breakfast bar in Innsbruck.
1. Take advantage of included breakfasts
If your hostel/hotel includes breakfast, why not be sly and take advantage of the food provided for later in the day? Whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch didn’t know what they were talking about.
The view from the café at Montparnasse Tower in Paris
2. Find alternatives to tourist sites
Sites that are specifically for tourists are usually expensive. Some entry fees (such as museums) can’t be avoided but others have alternatives that are just as good, and not nearly as touristy! Do your research first, and ask locals or other travellers what they suggest you do instead.
For example, in Sydney you can go up the Harbour Bridge Pylon for $13 to see a great view from the viewing platform, instead of paying upwards of $200 for the Bridge Climb (see How to visit Sydney on a budget for more tips).
Or in Paris you can head up to the café at Montparnasse Tower instead of paying 15 Euros to visit the tourist observation deck on the level above. All you have to do is buy a (rather expensive) coffee, and you get a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower.
Paying 1.50 Euro for a pretzel-like bread ring in Kraków
3. Buy street food or use hostels for cooking meals
Restaurants are great for the occasional splurge, but cooking your own meals is the number one way to cut costs. Why spend $30 on a restaurant meal when we could spend less than $10 at the grocery store? For cooking tips, see my post on Practical Tips for Hostel Cooking over at Global Goose.
For the times that you do feel like eating out, buy street food! This is not only a more genuine experience for trying local cuisines, it’s also about a million times cheaper than restaurant meals.
Learning about Warsaw’s old town history on a free walking tour
4. Do free walking tours
In my opinion, free walking tours are the best thing since sliced bread. Many hostels will have info on local walking tours at the check in desk. The tour guide requires a tip at the end of the tour, but that’s still way cheaper than paying for a guided tour around a city!
Another option is to do cheaper (and more fun!) bicycle tours or hop on hop off tours. You’ll get more from these options than you would a fast paced guided tour.
5. Pack light, it will save your ass!
The amount of times we had to run through a station to catch a train that was leaving in under 3 minutes, I can’t even count. Luckily we only missed one train/bus/flight while we were backpacking but I’m telling you, the heavier your pack is, the harder it is to run for that train you’re about to miss.
It also takes so much more time to re-pack a heavy/full backpack than a light one, see the art of packing lightly for more tips.
This villa in Bali cost us only $80 per night thanks to a last minute deal!
6. Take advantage of last minute deals
Leave some flexibility with your plans to take advantage of this hack. The last unbooked seats on tours, accommodation, and even some forms of transport will go up for cheap at the last minute! If you want a 50% discount on that day tour, check it a few days beforehand to see if any deals have come up.
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