Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

One of the top concerns when planning your backpacking trip will be your travel budget. Carla Avenia Koency gives her money saving tips for budget travel.

– Use age to your advantage, if you still can. You don’t have to be a student to get discounts in many places, sometimes simply being under 25 years old (or qualifying for “senior” status) will cut it. You have a student ID but your forgot it at home? Don’t worry, mentioning this at museums, train stations and movie theaters throughout the world never hurts. More often than not, they will still give you a discount anyway. Especially if you give them the world-famous “puppy dog face”.

Travel when nobody else travels. Low season is not always a synonym of monsoons.

– Do your homework before you leave, and look for what’s FREE. Going to Paris for the weekend? Google “Louvre & free” and see what comes up. In less than 5 seconds, you just saved yourself 10 euros. What if you want a guided tour of a city? Many initiatives such as Sandeman’s Free Tours are popping out throughout major tourist destinations, and more local organizations are following in their footsteps. Basically, they offer free 3 or 4 hour long extremely informative tours, and all you do is tip them based on how much you appreciated the tour and what your budget allows. You really want to save as much as possible? Then get googling and look for free podcast tours that you can download to your MP3 players, print out the accompanying route map, and voila!

– Travel when nobody else travels. Low season is not always a synonym of monsoons. Some destinations are just as great, only with less tourists and cheaper prices. A month ago I decided to go to Israel for two weeks. I found a round-trip ticket from Europe for 280 euros, and once there, empty tourist sites and constant 25-30 degree weather. After following a strict diet of delicious falafel and tasty hummus, I came home (to a cold Poland) not just with my head full of wonderful memories, but tanned and skinnier. What else could a girl ask for?

– Do the local thing, and steer clear from expat haunts and tourist traps. By hanging out with locals you will not only maximize your experience by coming in contact with their culture, but you will most likely also maximize your financial resources by not getting ripped off (as often) and by being taken off the tourist track. Local friends will always want you to leave with the best impression of their city, so they will take you to the most authentic and inexpensive places- many of them well-kept secrets that they do their best to protect from the likes of mass tourism (i.e. that you won’t find in any guide). Don’t have any local friends at your next travel destination? Use websites such as CouchSurfing to get in touch with locals, or post a message in a city’s forum. You will always find somebody more than happy to be your friend for the day.

Photo by GViciano – Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao – Spain

Photography: The Rule of Thirds
Easy Ways To Boost Your Backpacking Budget