Tips to stretch your backpacking cash

Like many people, the reccession has left us strapped for cash but don’t let that ruin your travel experience. The Lonely Planet has compiled a list of tips to help stretch your cash on your trip…

Scrimp on transport
Train travel: it’s relaxing and a great way to see the countryside, reduce your carbon footprint and save your pennies. An Interail ticket is a fantastic way to see a lot while spending comparatively little, as are other rail passes. To get the most out of your trip when going by air, aim for the cheapest deal by booking 11 months early or at the last minute, or – if you’re lucky enough to fly frequently, try flying with the same airline to build up your airmiles. Check guidebooks to glean news on deals: for example, the Easybus is the cheapest way to reach London’s airports. Save on transport and you’ll have more money for treats! The Easybus costs £2 to Stansted, Luton and Gatwick. Also see www.interrailnet.com

Negotiate and gamble
Hone your haggling skills for the bazaars before you even set foot outside your front door. You can lower accommodation costs by booking last minute or negotiating with hotels directly (you may be able to bag yourself a great hotel deal if there are spare rooms left to fill) or check their websites for special weekend rates. Some online companies allow to you bid last minute for hotels (and flights); for example, Priceline.

Pedal power
A life on the road, the wind in your hair what better way to get around than by pushbike. Pedalling yourself, you can explore the countryside as a free spirit, with minimum environmental impact. Do it on a shoestring and stay at camps or hostels, or sign up for a group ride, where the camaraderie comes for free and you also get mechanical and organisational help. A self-guided tour is a way to go alone without having to organise a thing, or you can meet kindred spirits and talk wheels and kit through online cycling hospitality groups – whose members offer each other beds for the night. One bike-tourist community can be found at www.warmshowers.org. When planning a bicycle holiday, make sure to book in gorgeous weather.

Get more for your money
Depending on where you’re coming from, your money will probably last longest in Asia, in what happen to be among the most exciting countries to explore – try Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos or India. Keep your eye on exchange rates and plump for countries that are more affordable at the time of travel. Whichever destination(s) you end up deciding upon, you can clamp down on costs by avoiding big cities and sticking to smaller places, where there are also fewer opportunities to blow your cash (for better or worse). While you’re there, lush out on free pleasures like walking, writing, drawing, chatting, biking, chess and lazing on the beach.

Low seasonTravel in mid or low season where everything from accommodation to tours will be much cheaper. Credit crunching aside, there’ll also be fewer foreign tourists and places will feel more relaxed. For example, resorts in the south of Italy or Portugal are great in June, September and even October, when the crowds have dispersed and hotels are slashing prices. Or, though it might be far too boiling hot to travel in India in June, head north into the mountains and you’ll find travel breezier, and eminently feasible. Remember to research your location as a city can be just as packed over a three-day local festival as it can in summer.

Share and self-cater
Travelling solo is often the priciest way to go. By travelling in a group, you can not only share experiences, but also cab fares, petrol costs and rent. If travelling alone, it can really pay to hook up with some people, not only costwise but because it might just end up being fun. Try hostelling, it’s a great way to meet new people and travelling companions, and some hostels are in extraordinary, one-of-a-kind places. Another option is self-catering: the ideal way to immerse yourself in a place while saving money. You can sample local ingredients, visit the market, and try your hand at local dishes. Solo travellers can pay up to 50% more than would each member of a pair, when accommodation and transport are added up.

Camp
Camping is a lot of fun. There’s something about setting up house under canvas or in a souped-up vehicle. Choose a site to suit, from sophisticated to simple, and start communing with nature. There’s nothing to beat a night under the stars, endless fresh air, and the sense of freedom that your tent, campervan or caravan brings. Camping fees are not only as cheap as chips, you’ll also be able to self-cater and picnic.

Get a job
Got no cash yet yearning to travel? A job overseas is the answer. Not only will working while you travel dissolve your financial block, but you’ll gain a deeper insight into the culture than you would just passing through a country. If you don’t have specific professional skills, try the agricultural sector, bar work, au pairing, working in the tourism sector (eg as a tour rep) or teaching English (a TEFL qualification will help). Australia, New Zealand and Japan offer working-holiday visas. And EU nationals have the right to work in any other EU member state, without the need of a work permit.

Remember your cheap backpackers insurance!
So that you can really enjoy your adventure, don’t forget to take out your cheap backpacker insurance as soon as you book your trip. It is important that you remember to check that your backpacking travel insurance policy offers you the level of cover that you need for your trip before you buy it.

You can purchase great value backpackers insurance direct at 24/7 travel insurance. For a 2-month trip in Asia, will cost you just £20.82* – a small price to pay to really enjoy your backpacking adventure all the more!

*Premium £20.82 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an individual aged under 36 taking out a ‘Standard’ Backpacker 24/7 travel insurance policy for 2 months in Asia. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (July 2010) and are subject to change.