Backpacking Budget 101

budget
Travel budget

Most people think about going to visit other countries and just shrug the idea off because they simply can’t afford it. Sure you could book a weekend getaway with a travel agent, where everything is taken care of for you, but is that really a good way to travel?

You can spend one week in say Mexico or Costa Rica on an all inclusive resort, but that’s going to cost you a ton of money and you don’t really get to see much other than the resort and maybe a few excursions in the area. (which might even cost you extra)

For my 45 days in Europe, I decided to go with the old tried and true KISS method

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.

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K.I.S.S.

 

I decided to go with a budget of roughly 50€ per day. It really isn’t much, but I’ve been on the road now for two weeks and have rarely went over my budget. Below, I will break down more or less what I’m spending my money on.

Breakdown

  • Transportation
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Public transit

Ok. So, I don’t actually consider the cost of my plane ticket into my daily budget. I also exclude a 4 travel day Eurail Train Pass. But, I still have on several occasions, traveled by bus or train and factored it into my €50 daily budget.

As long as you don’t intend to buy a ticket to cross the entirety a Europe, most tickets that I’ve purchased so far have been between €5-€15 and that’s usually just from one city to the next.

So if we high-ball our numbers and say we’re spending €15 per day on transportation, that leaves us with €35 to spend on accommodations and food.

  • Accommodations
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Accommodation sign

Now, I must say that the way I’ve been traveling isn’t for the faint of heart. I’ve stayed in a few questionable hostels and pretty much total strangers.

The hostels that I’ve stayed at are usually between €15 and €23 per night and that usually includes wifi, hot showers, a bed, a lounge/bar (usually with happy hour!)  and occasionally, breakfast is even included. (which is sometimes questionable)

Most places that I’ve stayed were clean and hospitable and my room-mates have usually been very nice. But, your mileage may vary, as I’ve had a few encounters with, grimy showers, all-night-coughers, partiers and on one particularly bad night, even a masturbator in the bed across from me. (Yes, you can just tell when someone is jerking it….)

As to the time of writing this post, I have couchsurfed with 3 separate hosts in 3 different cities and have, so far, had no bad experiences to speak of. Couchsurfing.com is a website where you sign up for free and once you complete your profile, you can search for people to host you in the areas that you plan on visiting.

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couchsurfing.com

It can be rather scary to show up at a complete stranger’s door and expect to spend the night, but usually these people have hosted other people before you and our completely open to the idea of sharing their space, their time and their stories with you. The important thing is to be careful with who you request to stay with. Click HERE to check out Couchsurfing.com and see what it’s all about.

It isn’t for everyone but if you are open to sharing either a dorm room or an apartment/house with people you don’t know, then you can definitely save huge on your travels.

So once again, if we high-ball our numbers at €23 for accommodations, that leaves us with €12 per day for food.

  • Food
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Buy your food from local stores or markets to save money and support local communities.

€12 per day may not seem like much if you plan on eating filet-mignon or sea food every night, but this category is actually the easiest to solve.

The solution: BUY YOUR OWN FOOD!

Wherever you go, there is sure to be grocery stores or marketplaces. Just go there to buy your food. Most hostels have guest kitchens and supply all of the cutlery, cookware and other things needed to make your own meals.

There is no need to be eating out at restaurants during your entire vacation and since buying and cooking your own food can save you money, if you stick to your budget, every now and then you can probably afford to treat yourself to a gourmet meal at a restaurant or bistro!

Conclusion

Everybody is going to plan differently. No two people are going to want to plan the same vacation but the important thing is to make a budget and to stick to it. I chose €50 per day, which is not a lot, but I decided to try to make my trip last as long as possible. For a 45 day trip, that’s a total of about €2000 (approx. $2800 CAD), which is pretty impressive when compared to paying $2000 for a 7 day resort vacation.

Do your research, make a budget, plan your trip around it and stick to it!

That’s it and that’s all. So good luck, get planning and get out there!

Cheers

Joel

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