Backpacking on a Budget

Backpacking on a Budget

9 February 2017

Bessie Hassan | Consumer Advocate at

Backpacking isn’t the most glamorous way to travel. Not many backpackers are flying first class, sipping on champagne and dining at reputable venues. No, the majority are either taking the train (or hitchhiking), sipping on goon and mentally preparing for another night of mi-goreng. Backpacking nonetheless, is an beautiful way to travel. Typically, close-to-broke backpackers are introduced to cultures unattainable by those staying on the 100th floor of The Hilton. However, we all know that mi-goreng isn’t a sustainable diet and, no matter your mixer, goon eventually becomes undrinkable (consult any post-grad, Australian uni student for confirmation).

Just because you haven’t the money to hire a chauffeur, doesn’t mean that you should be missing out on experiences that come at a cost. Be it learning to surf on the Australian coast, bungy jumping in New Zealand or snorkeling in Fiji; it’s possible to participate in these activities without having to forgo a meal a day over the next month.

Saving Tips:

●      Appropriate Accommodation: Consider staying in a hostel/backpackers that has provides access to a kitchen. Buying groceries and cooking at your residence is likely to be much cheaper (and healthier) than purchasing take out. A communal kitchen is an added bonus; an effortless way to meet new people and develop lasting friendships. Perhaps you can offer your cooking services in exchange for split-bill groceries.

●      Hostel-Partying: There will never be a more acceptable time to get away with frequent partying. Rather than hit the town, collect other nomads at your hostel and gather around the BBQ. It’s unlikely you’ll have difficulty convincing others to join you, you’ll be saving money on drinks, transport and entry, and finally, you’ll reserve the ability to crawl back to your room if you’re too inebriated to stand.

●      Travel Money: Taking money out in a foreign country can be quite an expensive task- overseas transaction charges, foreign currency fees and ATM operator fees can deduct hundreds from your backpacking budget. Travel money cards are a great alternative to your daily savings or credit card; allowing you to both deposit and withdraw amounts in multiple currencies without the typically attached, extorted fees.


Making Money:

There are plenty of ways to make money as you backpack about

●      Busking: If you can play an instrument, set up in the street rather than your room and place some kind of item by your feet to collect donations. Why not increase the incentive to donate and make a sign that tells passersby of your travel intentions?

●      Teaching: If you speak a language, offer classes to teach others. Print out some brochures and display them on street poles around town. The person walking their dog a couple of streets a way could be your next student!

●      Freelance: Jump online and advertise any of the skills you believe you’re able to charge for. There are sites dedicated to freelancers of all professions, you’re bound to find a job you’re capable of completing.

●      Mystery Shopping: There are companies that will pay for you to review your experience when shopping, eating out or even catching a flight. Jump online and register to become a mystery shopper and you could get both compensated for expenses and paid in addition for purchasing your next meal/clothing item/movie ticket.

●      Hostel Work: Most hostels will provide you with free accommodation in exchange for work. A couple of hours on reception or cleaning the pool could earn you a bed for a couple of nights.

●      Create: Consider what you can do to make a single dollar and once you’ve managed to, repeat the process. Perhaps you can buy a case of beer and sell for singles for a couple of dollars each to the backpackers lounging by the pool? Can you offer a service that people are willing to pay for?

Enjoy your travels, don’t miss out on an experience due to insufficient funds, employee some of these budgeting tips and stop asking your parents to transfer you money- you’ve got this.

Bessie Hassan is the Consumer Advocate at, one of Australia’s biggest comparison websites.