The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking—5 Tips to Tour the World
“It’s nearly impossible to take leave for a long trip after graduation!’
Rooted in the minds of many, this perception drove many college students into making use of their university years in touring the world. One of the most sought-after plans would be spending 2-3 months backpacking in Europe and that was exactly what I did!
Curious about how I managed to spend only around $140/ day throughout my 460-day adventure? Here are the 5 tips you can’t miss out!
1/ Travelling Overnight to Save Both Money and Time
When touring around Europe, the largest portion of your budget probably goes to accommodation. It’s unbelievably expensive! Yet, there’s a way to trim it down: spend your nights travelling from one place to another! Sleeper buses and trains showed me around the Western part of Europe, through the Balkans and across Russia.
For instance, I travelled from Luxembourg to Paris by Sleeper bus, hopped on the bus at around midnight and arrived at 7 in the morning. What’s worth mentioning is that it only cost me HKD$150, approximately half the price of the day trip fare plus saving money of a night spent at a local hostel (~HKD$200 for a stay at a hostel at Luxembourg/ Paris, prices for hotel will be even higher).
The only consideration is that you might have to trade a night of deep sleep for this; but travelling during the night is definitely something worth jotting down!
2/ Eating Out for Lunch
Want to try out local food within budget? Here’s what you should do: focus on lunch. Eating out could be the major reason why you are out of your budget but it doesn’t make sense to pack your own meal in hostel every single day. That’s why you should have lunch outside, taste the local delights when the price is relatively more affordable, save money and cook yourself a simple and healthy meal at night. You can even take away leftovers if the portion is too big and leave it for dinner. That way, I managed to allocate more of my budget to my entertainment expense while still being able to eat like a local!
3/ Take the Road Less Traveled
Speaking of Europe, London and Paris would probably come to your mind as one of the most popular tourist spots. Yet, the basic principle of Economy ‘Demand and Supply’ tells us that the higher the demand, the higher the price! You will definitely have to save much money if you are really into these places.
Otherwise, visiting some less popular spots can be a better choice to save money. Ultimately, travelling is about exploring and seeing things you have never even heard of, right? So why not adventure into places unheard-of?
Personally, I visited Poland in my trip, spending my nights at a spacious and cosy hostel that only cost HKD$70/ night. In contrast, that in London cost HKD$180/ night (more than double!), not to mention the poor environment and cramped rooms. Try and research on places like Poland, Hungary, the Balkans, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, Vietnam and Cambodia; they might end up surprising you!
4/ Go By Foot
Instead of flying a plane directly from Greece to Hong Kong, I spent 80 days visiting 20+ cities on my way back. Although it took me much longer, I got the chance to walk into these cities, literally by foot, around 10,000-20,000 steps a day.
I highly recommend touring around by foot, either by joining free walking tours, paying a few bucks to learn about the history and local culture; or bringing a camera with you to capture the street views wherever you go. Though tiring, it’s a completely different experience from conventional travelling by public transport or driving, plus it’s free! If you are worried that you will get exhausted in the middle of the day, don’t be, because there will be parks or coffee shops around town for you to drop by and take a break!
5/ Valuing Experiences over Material
Aside from basic expenditure such as dining, accommodation and transport, a little tip I have on spending allocation would be to spend money on creating memories through experiencing instead of getting yourself souvenirs.
Photo credit: @andrewtneel
For instance, I would rather get a local Turkish bath, visit the St. Peter’s Cathedral’s rooftop or scuba dive with other backpackers in some secluded islands, than dine at a top-tier restaurant. These experiences, rather than the souvenirs bought, are definitely what you will recall many years later!
I used to think that shopping is one of the ‘must-do’ items when going on trips; only after years of backpacking do I realise that creating valuable memories is way more precious and long-lasting than the material satisfaction that could be easily bought. Many a times, souvenirs are not only impractical, but also adds weight to your luggage!
Cheers, have fun!
Backpacking does not necessarily have to be a tough process if you plan well and spend well! Keep these tips in mind and go ahead with your ‘smart-spending’ adventure!
(Content by HKG Budget Traveler. Translation by Winnie Chung.)
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