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How to Save for An Epic Backpacking Trip

Travel Tips How to Save for An Epic Backpacking Trip

Exotic vacations around the world appear to be luxurious, but those pristine beaches and amazing mountain hikes are available to anyone at any cost! Seeing the world and all of its beauty can be done on a tight budget, which is why backpacking has become such a trend in the last couple of decades. From two week trips to open ended journeys, backpacking has become a way of life and you can experience it, too!

The beautiful thing about backpacking is that you don’t need a lot of money. All you’re going to need is a good amount of money before your trip, the clothes on your back and the resourcefulness that goes along with traveling on the cheap.

But before you head off on the road, here are a few tips to get you started for the adventure of a lifetime.

Stick to a Strict Savings Schedule

Before you go on your amazing trip of a lifetime, you have to be really honest with yourself. How much are you making? What can you realistically put away? What kind of adventure do you want? As stated in my first step to saving for a vacation, making a preliminary budget can really help define your must-have travel moments and what you should expect to pay for them.

Once you have figured out approximately how much money you will need, create a plan and stick with it! Use the Mint App to help fine tune your spending. Set a monthly savings goal. Put your savings in an interest accruing account. And don’t forget to reward yourself with a “job well done” every time you meet your savings goal. This will help continue to view saving as an exciting journey and not give up. (This reward can be anything from your favorite drink to giving yourself an at-home spa day).

Just remember to prioritize your travels. Book a one way flight to give yourself a “deadline” that will motivate you. Write on your mirror to remind yourself everyday what the goal is. Get rid of unnecessary expenses that will keep you from your dream. Make travel the number one priority on your list and there is no way you can fail.’

You Might Have to Alter Your Travel Style

Most budget backpackers have to forgo the finer things. This includes dining out less, taking (cheap) public transportation and staying in hostels or less than 4-star accommodation. Of course, you don’t have to give those luxuries up, but that just means more saving ahead of time.

Remind yourself what you need vs. what you want. Don’t forget that traveling is supposed to be an adventure! If a certain way of travel puts you outside of your comfort zone, you’re sure to learn a little bit more about yourself and the world around you!

On the other hand, don’t sacrifice an amazing experience for the sake of cost. If you have the opportunity to skydive over Dubai, do it! If that means staying at hostels the entire time so you can afford it, so be it. Backpacking is a constant balancing act between thrifty spending and splurging.

Something else to consider is the physical aspect of this type of travel. Backpacking abroad means roughing it in the form of hostels, tents and shared living. You’ll need the following materials to live comfortably on the road (most of these items can be found for a reasonable price on Amazon):

  •  1 backpack that holds 20-22 lbs with an attachable daypack (any more weight will cost more check baggage fees and wreak havoc on your back)
  • 1 quick drying clothing for all of that walking and hiking
  • 1 quick drying towel
  • 1 fitted, twin mattress sheet (trust me, you’ll want one for those hostels)
  • 1 water bottle with a filter
  • 1-2 padlocks
  • 1 rain cloaking material (one for your backpack and umbrella for yourself)
  • 5-10 ziplock bags (for your toiletries at airports-most bags need to be 20×20 cm)

Consider More Affordable Locations

It seems like everyone is backpacking around Southeast Asia these days, amirite? That might be because it’s so cheap! I’ve heard of travelers backpacking in Asia for as low as $1 a day (kind of intense, but it can be done)! There are several places that are incredibly cheap for backpackers, so if you would like to travel to exotic places on a strict budget, consider the following locations:

  •  Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Vietnam
  • Bulgaria
  • Thailand
  • Greece
  • Panama
  • Guatemala
  • Belize

Pack Light

You may think that packing light is a temporary fix when it comes to saving. But a light load on your back can help you save in more ways than you think!

By packing the bare necessities you’ll be saving money on clothing purchases before your trip, overweight fees and checked bag fees, and save on any trips to the doctor. (My husband and I packed so much on our 3-month honeymoon that my husband injured his shoulder for over a year!)

Backpacking, whether it be short or long term, should be comfortable. So make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by packing as little as possible!

Be Open to Working on the Road

For those of you who see backpacking as an open ended trip, you’re going to need a way to fund that lifestyle. Consider taking a few jobs on the road so that you can call the world your home! The following jobs are perfect for vagabonds on the road:

  • Bartending or barback
  • Au Pair
  • English teacher
  • Cruise or yacht crew
  • Hostel Staff
  • Tour Guide
  • Translator
  • Yoga or Scuba Instructor
  • House Sitter
  • Digital Nomad (Basically any job that only requires an internet connection)


Sebrin Elms is a twenty-something newlywed with two kitties and a serious obsession with travel. She started her blog, The Clumsy Traveler, in anticipation of a 3-month long honeymoon around the world. When she came back, she wasn’t ready to stop writing and traveling! You can learn more about her story on her blog or follow her on Instagram @theclumsytraveler.

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