Backpacking on a budget

Published 08 June 2018   |   Updated 18 May 2021

Impact of Covid-19 - We regularly review the content on our website to ensure the information we provide our customers with is up to date. At the time of updating this article there were travel and attraction restrictions in place due to Covid-19. Please adhere to government guidance.

Keen to head out and explore all the world has to offer but need to travel on a budget? With a little thought and consideration, limited funds needn’t put the brakes on your dream - whether its interrailing around Europe or trekking in Thailand!

Read on for our top tips for backpacking on a budget.

Go under canvas

If you can, consider going under canvas for part of your backpacking trip. You should be able to find some comfy campgrounds that won’t drain your monetary resources. And just imagine nodding off under the stars and waking up to the sounds of nature. You don’t get that in a bog-standard chain hotel or B&B!

But if camping really isn’t your bag, there are often plenty of cheap hostels where you can bunk up with fellow backpackers. And who knows, you may even meet a great travel buddy and a lifelong friend!

Cook for yourself

Dining out in restaurants every night in any country will eat up your travel budget fast! Learn how to cook healthy, cheap meals and save your cash for exciting adventures. Sharing food with others in your hostel is a great way to break the ice with fellow travellers and try out cuisines from other cultures.

If you’re camping, having a lightweight stove is a must-have so you can make coffee and cook a meal wherever you are!

Use your feet

Getting an Uber to take you from A to B may be super convenient, but you’ll soon find this mode of transport will quickly cause your daily spending to accelerate. Walking wherever possible is not only good for you and the planet you’re exploring, it’s also great for your wallet.

If your destination is too far to travel on foot, public transport is usually an affordable way to get around and allows you to get a greater sense of the day-to-day life of a local.

Don’t get caught in a tourist trap

Accommodation near major landmarks such as the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel tower is clearly going to set you back a bob or two. Why not distance yourself from these hotspots and find some hidden gems where you can lay your head? If you have some spare pennies to treat yourself, restaurants and bars are likely to be cheaper the further away you venture from the popular tourist attractions too.

Work while you wander

You’ve probably worked tirelessly to save up for your backpacking trip, so the thought of getting another job may not be very appealing. However, it can be a great way to earn some extra dough while you’re on the road. Obvious choices include bar and hotel work, but farm work is also a popular option, especially in countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

The good thing about working while backpacking is that you may be able to pick up some work for just a week or so at a time and supplement your income as and when you need to. That way you’re not committing to a full-time job and you should still have time to tick off those ‘must do’s’ on your bucket list.

Before travelling, make sure you have checked any visa requirements for working in your chosen country and the latest travel advice.

Barter for bargains

In some countries there is one price for locals and another for tourists, so it may be worth holding your ground and bartering down the price when you’re shopping down the local market. It’s important to remember to be fair and reasonable when bartering though, and always pay people what they deserve for their goods or services.

Travel tips before you go

Tell your bank you’re going overseas
If you’re bank sees suspicious transactions, they may suspend your account. Before you head off, let your bank know which countries you are visiting, and your travel dates, so you’re not left stranded abroad with no access to your money.

Pack light
A classic backpacker mistake is taking too much stuff! The last thing you want when you’re hiking in Honduras is a bag so heavy it weighs you down with every step. Try to invest in a few good quality items that are multi-purpose and will see you through a variety of climates rather than packing a load of clothes you’re probably never going to wear.

Get travel insurance
Backpacking on a budget will inevitably mean some compromises, but one area of your travel plans you shouldn’t compromise on is travel insurance. Chances are, you’ll be doing some things you’ve never done before, maybe some daring things like bungee jumping or sky diving. You’ll need to make sure you have travel insurance including cover for extreme sports to protect you in case anything unexpected happens. Make sure you check the policy as you may need to upgrade your cover for some activities.

You can read more about finding the right backpacker travel insurance policy here.

Even if you’re not an adrenaline junkie, you may get sick and need medical care while away. Without travel insurance in place, not only may you need to say goodbye to that budget, but you may also incur costs you can’t pay, which may land you in very hot water!

At Compare Cover, you can compare travel insurance quotes quickly and easily to find the policy that meets your needs, so you can explore the world with peace of mind. So now you’ve sorted your travel insurance what are you waiting for?

Get ready, grab your gear and go!


Other Guides


Travel Insurance Features at a Glance


What is Travel Insurance


Additional Travel Cover

Quotations are provided by Compare Cover on a non-advised basis. This means no advice is given or implied. You are responsible for deciding whether the policy is suitable for your needs.

Compare Cover is a trading style of Investment Discounts On Line Ltd and is part of the Legal & General Group. Investment Discounts On Line Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA Number 197451.

Our operating address is: The Edge, Eden Business Park, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9FB. Telephone 0800 915 2926. Our registered address is: One Coleman Street, London, EC2R 5AA. UK Company Registration No. 04231834.

AccessibilityOur ServicesTerms & ConditionsPrivacy PolicyUnsubscribe

Copyright © 2023 - is a registered trademark