SLIDER

Does backpacking cost alot?

Summer in London is well and truly over and these recent miserable days have seen me reminiscing on happier, sunnier memories. I have been telling anyone and everyone who will listen that whether it's going back to my favourite parts of Asia or getting myself combo Orlando tickets and doing Disney solo I am ready for another adventure; although every time I mention going away again, I get questioned on how I'm going to afford it.

Fact of the matter is, travel is a priority for me and honestly, backpacking in Southeast Asia really doesn't cost much as all, in fact, once you've got flights out of the way, having fun on holiday in Thailand is much cheaper than living day to day in London. 

I spent 3 months travelling around southeast Asia from September - December 2017 and spent a grand total of £2300. I didn't set myself a budget - I bought, did and ate everything I wanted to do and minus return flights from London that worked out to around £23 a day for absolutely everything.
 The main ways I kept my spending low was by staying in hostels, eating street food and travelling on ground rather than by air where I could - but even if I had endless money to spend, I would have done exactly the same because these three things were an integral part of my backpacking experience. 

Accommodation

Whilst I did stay in all sorts of places from serviced apartments in the city center to cute little huts on the beach, hostels were always the cheapest options. These usually cost between £3 - £8 per night and sometimes they even included things like breakfast or free drinks at the bar. 

Once you know what you are looking for, getting your choice of hostel right is pretty easy. If you are going by price alone, you can get hostels for as little as £2 per night but the most important thing for me was how social a place was. More often than not, the party hostels cost a bit more than the quieter ones but for me, it was always worth the extra £2/£3 per night.

I would keep the prices to a minimum though by booking the cheapest rooms; this usually meant sharing with the most people but in all honesty, they were usually the most fun.

Food

I definitely ate more than the average person I met whilst backpacking and I took any and every opportunity to eat so this was where a big chunk of my money went.

That being said, it didn't really cost me that much because I would always eat from street vendors as this was cheaper than western food and cheaper still than local restaurants. Not only that but the food was always freshly cooked in front of me and it made me feel most immersed in the culture.

It was different on day trips but on an average day at the hostel, eating was my main activity. I'd usually head out for a morning smoothie. A couple of hours later I'd be on the hunt for some local food and something sweet to eat after that - fresh mango, milk tea, ice cream ect. Then again a few hours later for dinner, and then again on the way home after a night out, usually spending £1/£2 per trip.

Activity

When it came to activities and adventures, there were big variations.

In Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Mihn City, I spent over 3 weeks in each city so by the end, I spent most of my time hanging out at the malls, getting to know the area or just staying in playing cards at the hostel, this was mostly free.

In Chaing Mai and Langkawi, I visited waterfalls, wandered around local markets or explored the temples close to where I was staying. This was a little bit more adventurous but still mostly free.

In Penang and Yogyakarta, we worked out how to get to where we wanted to go via public transport. It took a while but cost us pennies.

In Ubud and Phuket, a group of us would hire a driver for the day and visit a whole bunch of different attractions, stopping off for lunch in the middle. Split between 3 or 4 people, this would costs less than £7/£8 each
The most expensive outings were the ones that I was doing alone; or the event type ones like going to see Malaysia's last F1 race - we had to buy tickets and then work out how to get there and back since it wasn't just a tourist experience.
 
To visit Borobodur temple for example, I found Java very hard to navigate so I decided to just pay for the full service so I didn't have to think about the logistics. Again, the white temple in Chaing Rai was just too far away from where I was staying so I had to book a tour.

Full on day trips cost never really cost more than £20 and these usually included everything you'd need from transport to entrance fees and lunch as well.

Internal Travel

Flying is usually the quickest and simplest way to get from one country to another but it is always the most expensive. Sometimes though, it was the only option so I made sure that I traveled with a cabin size approved case and this saved me loads. Internal flights could costs as little as £18 although adding hold luggage on top would then cost more than the flight itself on top.
 My favourite way to travel from place to place was by bus - although no one ever agreed with me on this, it was just what I enjoyed doing - most people preferred to take a night bus which saved then on accommodation for that night but I didn't feel safe doing this on my own. They left from the city center rather than an airport miles away from anything and meant a whole day to myself, armed with a bag of snacks and my headphones. I'd sit and watch the world go by between naps and toilet breaks. Buses like this would usually cost £5-£8.

What else did I spend money on?

SIM Cards

One thing I was never without when I was traveling was a local SIM card. These varied in price but were always very cheap compared to back home. In Malaysia, it cost me something like £4 and in Thailand it was more like £15, both for unlimited data. Data meant I could use maps, Uber, whatever I needed and this made me feel much safer than otherwise. 
 
Medical 

I did end up heading to the doctors a few times and this was probably the thing I spent most on at one time. It would only cost between £20-£30 each visit but obviously it was worth it, both times I left with a load of medicine to fix everything. Had I bought more expensive insurance, I could have claimed it back but with a £75 excess it was totally pointless.  

Clothes 

Buying clothes is not something I was planning to do but I didn't pack enough so I had to in the end. Nothing that I picked up cost more than £3/£4 because I liked to barter. 
This trip changed my life and wherever it is you want to visit, I would recommend solo travel to everyone. This trip is forever on my mind - I'd love to go back and do it all over again; but it also makes me think about all the other places I'd love to visit solo.

Since food is obviously such an important thing for me,  Japan, Mexico and America are high up on my list. As mentioned earlier, Disney would be awesome; I can imagine it might cost a little more but that idea no longer scares me. Similarly with my backpacking trip, if I prioritise what I'm spending on, plan properly and do things like get my tickets before, traveling to Orlando and exploring the theme parks doesn’t have to cost a lot.

I used to want luxury everything and of course you do need some money to travel but what this trip has taught me is that it really doesn't need to cost the world to be enjoyable; there's more to life than fancy hotels and expensive restaurants.

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