I’m always on a budget when it comes to travelling, my next trip will be Norway. As expensive as it sounds, it’s actually achievable. My budget was set higher than on my previous travels, but that’s because of all the gear that I need to start backpacking. On your second backpacking trip you can have a much lower budget. And since backpacking is also referred as budget travel, I’m going to give some tips on how we kept the costs low.

Transportation

Transportation is a big cut in my budget. While plane tickets are getting cheaper, public transportation is getting more expensive (in western Europe). But how can you possible save on those? Well it is possible in most countries and specially as a student or when you’re younger than 26. We bought Ryan air business plus tickets to Norway for €125. This is a pretty low price, but we could have saved more off-season in the beginning of June. So here’s my first tip: Fly off-season. It sounds easy. But when you are a student, you’re bound to the seasons to travel.

Now let’s talk about public transportation. It’s easy to save on those when you’re a student or younger than 26. As an example I will take my home country, Belgium. Travelling by train is really expensive and 1 ticket can get up to €17 very quickly. But when you’re younger than 26 you can get a “GO-pass 1″ for €6. So you can travel across the whole country from point A to B for only €6. And it doesn’t stop there. When you’re with more people or staying a long time, you can get a ‘GO-pass 10” for €51. With this card, you can make 10 trips. That makes 1 train ticket cost you only €5,10.

Most other countries have a system like this. They give you a discount as a student or when you’re travelling at off-peak hours. A lot of countries give discounts when you order in advance too. So plan your trip carefully and buy the tickets in advance online. You can easily save up 30% or more.

In short

  • Fly off-season
  • Use the student discounts when possible (You won’t believe how many times I forgot this)
  • Take public transportation off-peak hours
  • Order your train/bus tickets in advance
  • Buy a train/bus pass

Sleeping

When you’re backpacking, you will automatically save on this. Unless you consider going from hotel to hotel as backpacking 😆. We will sleep in our tent most off the times. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that. But make sure to know the laws about camping before you set-up your tent. In my previous post (Norway, my fantasy) I mentioned that wild camping is legal in Norway. In Belgium it is NOT, and the fines can get really expensive. Make sure to know the laws on camping. Staying at a camping can easily cost €15 per person per night.

You can always stay in a hostel. This is very cheap way to spend the night. But be careful! Not all countries are as hygiene as here. Make sure to ask if you may see the room before you order. It’s also possible to order a hostel online, read the reviews carefully. They can give you a good insight. In Norway there are Cabins (hosted and self-hosted) called DNT. Here you spend the night for as low as €26 when you’re a member. Using the cabin for cooking, bathroom, washing clothes and restocking will only cost you €7, but you have too sleep in your tent.

Lastly I want to mention Couchsurfing. Download the app on your phone and take a look around. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers to share experiences. You can find a place to stay in no-time and absolutely free of charge. Just make sure to be social, so you get good reviews. If you have good reviews it will be easier to find a place to stay.

In short

  • Know the laws about camping
  • Stay at a hostel
  • Some countries have cabins (DNT in Norway), they are a good place to stay
  • Check out the Couchsurfing app

Gear

This is biggest cost when you start backpacking. You need a lot of gear, specially when you’re staying longer than 3 days. While it will be much cheaper the second time you go, it is still worth mentioning. First of all, you don’t need the expensive gear to start with. Look at the more budget friendly gear like Karrimor and Quechua. They will do you just fine. When you need to replace something then go for the more expensive gear and build it up slowly. Buying the expensive gear immediately will cost you a fortune.

Try to read some reviews online and check for the cheapest prices. We went to a “sports direct” store locally and the prices were 30% more expensive than in the web shop. So we went to order everything online.

In short

  • Use more budget-friendly brands
  • Read the reviews
  • Compare the prices between different stores and online