• stay on your backpacking budget

How to Get Back On your Backpacking Budget

While going through old photos to work on this little blog, I’ve come to realize I had slept in some very strange and small places.

Some places were fun like castles, fancy hotels (occasional treat from my boyfriend), and cool French houses, but some were failures, like attics, floors, and McDonalds benches.

One of the best ways to save money traveling is to cut back on lodging. Once you get good at finding cheap backpacking accommodation, you can start having more fun and worrying less about money.

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses Megan getting ready to sleep on a bus… exactly like she did in the Mcdonalds in Prague (I did too)

Sleep & travel at the same time to save money

I should let you know, I have a super power… I can sleep anywhere, anytime. My trick is to get as small as possible whether on a train, bus, or plane. I can sleep for hours even when I’m not tired. It might be a disease, or it might be me still catching up the lack of sleep in college. So my tip on staying in crap places to save money, might absolutely not work for you. But, try to sleep on overnight trains, ferries and buses to save money on accommodation.

If you’re going to try it, you should really go for it, lowest class. The first class tickets sometimes are the same as a flight! That is not saving money.

I know some girls worry about safety on the lowest class trains, but as I’ve said, I never felt unsafe and I’ve come up with some tips to make you feel safer during transport that I’ll put up soon.

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses

I almost always catch up on my budget with lodging.

I’m not the type to hang out in my room, so I don’t need a nice hotel room (not that I don’t want one, I love nice rooms that come with robes and a big bath, ahhh).  If I know I want to get a massage or do some shopping, I usually try to stay in a dump of a place for a few bucks. I always want to do some shopping, so I pretty much have accepted I will stay in the cheapest place.

I know that I’m growing out of this because lately, I’ve been paying a little bit more. It definitely depends on which country you are in. Now that I’m living in India and not just taking a backpacking trip, I can stay in better places, like this hut at the Secret Beach. But in all honesty, it’s just spoiling me. I did just fine in the dumps!

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses These are both Rajasthan sleeper buses from Udaipur. The top was nice and roomy, the bottom not so much.

Luckily, in India, a few bucks will get you a pretty nice little room with attached bath. In Western Europe, it gets you a filthy 35-person room cats, with one shared bathroom. Eastern Europe you could get a steal; I’ve stayed in some awesome inexpensive places there.

All 3 of these cost the same amount: 3 USD/night

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses a perfect example of why you shouldn’t choose the cheapest option without research. This was in Sarajevo, Bosnia. We switched the next day to a place that was 2 dollars more and it was INCREDIBLE.

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses THIS place in Serbia! same price, MUCH better. robes, slippers, and just look at that shower

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses Pushkar, India. The “pink room” with a balcony

If I save just 5 bucks a night on lodging I can use that for a massage the next day in India. Keep in mind, when I’m getting these awesome deals on salon and spa services they are on the street at little shops, not in a 5 star hotel. Having said that, I have gotten services at the 5 star places, and the local shops are usually just as good! Although, today I am getting my eyebrows threaded for only 100 rs (2 bucks) at the nicest salon in Calangute… because seriously, it’s 2 dollars, why not go to the nice place?

Balancing the luxury of travel with the budgeting of travel

It is not that difficult for me. When I look at my Western Europe budget, I spent over 50% of my money just on sleeping. That makes me feel a bit distraught. So in India, I spent over 50% on shopping. I’m much happier about that stat! Take a look at your personal travel budget (you should keep track at least a little bit). If you are on a 20-dollar a day budget, it’s fair to say your lodging should only cost about 8 dollars.

backpacking accommodation, lodging, budget travel, saving money on the road, trains, india, buses a second class train out of Mumbai, it was luxury compared to sleeper class. It was my first Indian train and I was nervous, so I refused to let my bag stay on the floor, as I was on the top bunk of 3 tiers. 

Other options I’ve used to save on lodging are couchsurfing, homestays, staying at a Sobe in Croatia, camping (either beach for free or a campground- take your sleeping bag), and of course, staying with random nice people. I don’t know when it’s no longer age-appropriate to sleep on benches at the airport while waiting for your next flight, but I don’t know those people, and I have no problem conking out for a few hours.

When you travel on a budget, even if you have the money in your account, checking into a hotel last minute just isn’t an option. Cuddling up in your sleeping bag in the park unfortunately is.

Where do you cut back on your budget? Is lodging something you want the “best” of?

 

 

2017-07-06T17:37:55+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.

5 Comments

  1. Elora January 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Very fun! Thanks for the info. I will be keeping it in mind in the future! And like you said–some of those places were so cute!

  2. Danielle January 31, 2014 at 2:53 am - Reply

    Man I have no shame when it comes to curling up in a ball and passing out on public transport. I think this just made me decide to bring something I can fashion into a pillow and blanket…I’m thinking a pashmina and a little blow up pillow or something. What did you use for sleeping-in-Mcdos kinda nights?

    • Rachel Jones January 31, 2014 at 6:13 am - Reply

      I have a sleeping bag liner which is nice and thin but perfect for curling up. I think it’s microfiber, but I love it. REI has a millioN! THey have silk ones too.

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