How To Travel Like a Boss on a Backpacker’s Salary

hiking abroad

Spend less, travel more.


If you’re the type of traveler who doesn’t mind roughing it a bit then we are going to get along just fine during the time it takes you to read this. Over the course of my travels, I have found that the biggest misconception is that people think people who travel are rich. HAHA so not the case. There is this theory from people who do not travel that plane tickets and hotels are expensive and, yes, this may be the case if you only look at one way of doing this. If you want to fly to Paris on Emirates on Christmas Day then, yes, you’ll be paying a hefty stash. How about try being flexible with your dates and flying on the Tuesday beforehand or try flying into a nearby city? See already I have saved you some serious spending money.

view from above airplane

1. Be flexible


This is key. If you can afford to be flexible with your dates this will change your world (or your wallet!). If you are set on flying on Friday at 6pm then chances are so is everybody else and the price will be hefty. A great feature to check out is’s ‘view month’ option and here you will see which days of that month are the cheapest to fly on. If you can be flexible with dates and locations then you can save yourself plenty of cash.

pyramids in Egypt

2. Land in a Neighbour’s Yard


Not literally – but try flying into a close by city to the one you desire. Generally, the smaller cities can be expensive to fly into – so try the bigger ones close by. I myself refused to pay $250 to fly from Barcelona to Santorini so, instead, I flew into Athens for $60! (I did book ahead, however).


Do keep in mind of the cost which occurs from then getting to your desired location. Also if you book two cheap flights and by the time you add up baggage and taxis, buses etc., it can sometimes be beneficial to book direct. Smaller cities and nearby cities (to major cities) do often have crazy cheap prices in a bid to get people to visit.

Venice travel photo

Also if you can avoid hotspot areas around certain times of the year – an example being Munich around Oktoberfest. Plenty of people will pay anything to get there at this time of year; I have experienced this myself when I was planning to fly into Munich for Oktoberfest. Instead try flying into Berlin at less than half the cost! The best thing about this is you get to experience another city. Try taking a couple more days off and explore two cities instead of one!

3. Land vs. Man


If you can, avoid airports. As fun as they can be, flying is often the most expensive way to travel. Not only that but you need to give yourself much more time to allow for a smooth journey. Try taking a train or, even better, a bus. Sure it might take longer but you can save some serious coin. You also don’t have to worry so much about your luggage limit.


*My best tip – save a night on accommodation by getting a night bus. This is only for people like myself who can sleep through anything. I mean why waste a whole day just to be sitting staring at a highway for 8 hours. Another option is to use car sharing sites such as BlaBla Car or if you’re feeling brave hitchhike! (with care).

subway photo

4. Shoelace Express


My new favorite expression. I have lived by this expression for some time now. It’s not always the most accessible option but if you try to stay in places where most attractions and establishments are within walking distance then you have a free ticket to the shoelace express. Not only do you get fit, save money but you also get to see sights you would never get to see if you took the metro. While walking around a city you get the best feel for it – you also get your bearings so if you happen to get lost (and if you do just go with it) then you have some idea of where you are. My trick is I load up Google Maps before I leave (when I still have Wi-Fi) and keep my phone handy so I can pull up the tracker when needed.


*Tip: If you load up the map prior with Wi-Fi then Google Maps will still track you whilst offline. You cant search for new locations but you can follow yourself on the map.


I love getting lost in a city where I can stumble across some hidden gems – but there does come a time when pulling out that map does come in handy. So get those shoelaces tied and geared up to ride the shoelace express.

travel photo

5. Eat like a Local King


You may think this can’t be done on a budget as usually the best dishes you walk past are costly and a tourist trap. As yummy as these dishes are that’s exactly what most of them are – tourist traps. Avoid the main squares and food places via landmarks or waterfronts as you pay for the view/location. If you walk 20 minutes down the less tourist path then you’re on your way to find a not so overpriced place to eat. Often these are smaller-owned establishments where you don’t pay a hefty price but still get a delicious meal. These small eateries make you feel like your grandmas made your meal. What’s even better about the low price is the fact are you eating like a true local.

Another great way to save some money on food is to go to the local store and have a DIY dinner. Treat yourself to some local fresh food without the cost of the labor.

travel photo

6. Make friends


Now we all need a friend sometimes. But sometimes these friends can really help you save some coin. Meeting people can not only give you great company but there are many benefits that come with having friends. There are plenty of offers that include 2 for 1 or bring a friend for half price. This entitles you to split the bill of whatever it is you are doing and make it a little bit cheaper for both. Also learn to share, if you haven’t already (see my next point). A great example of this is when booking your accommodation, say you want to stay in a hotel where you pay for the room regardless one or two people – If you share with a friend you automatically cut the cost in half. If you ever find yourself in the need of a taxi then the more people you have the cheaper the ride becomes – you’re going in the same direction anyway!

beach travel photo

Travelers also find themselves ditching many non-needed items along their journey. You never know who you might cross paths with at the perfect time when someone can’t fit that item you need inside their bag. I myself have been on the receiving end of a few nifty items. I’ve also myself tried to give away a bottle of alcohol away in the Ibiza Airport after a long weekend out….. Fair to say everyone leaving that island probably never wanted to see alcohol again for the next 24 hours!

travel photo

7. Learn to share


If you’re the type of person who needs their own space then ignore this part. If you don’t mind sharing a space then this is key to saving money. Once you go from your own room to a shared dorm room you will see the cost go down. Sure you may have to put with snoring, lights on at 2am and other bedtime activities but the majority of the time you won’t be in the room. If you are, you’re doing this travel thing wrong. It’s a great way to meet people and sharing such a personal space with people makes you bond that bit quicker.


A lot of other things can also be shared to save on cost such as taxis, meals, admission tickets, and even clothes. After all “sharing is caring”.

8. Find the Freebies


A lot of great sights and exhibits are free if you know how to find them. Some are obvious such as natural creations and even cities like London have many free museums. But even the priced ones can sometimes be free. Some offer free entry on a specific day of the week at a certain time. Just ask the local reception or join various groups online. There are also many websites that offer discounts on entry prices and, if not, then most certainly book online ahead of time as you are sure to save some coin.

travel photo

9. H2O is a Go


Water is essential – no arguments there. We all need it. But what we don’t need is to pay €3 for every bottle. The best way to avoid this is to buy one and keep hold of it. Fill it up every time you need water (make sure the check that the water is safe to drink) and stop spending all that money on water – spend it on beer!


If you happen to be flying then take the empty water bottle in your bag. Once you get through security fill it up in the bathroom and avoid the daylight robbery airport prices for water.


Another trick regarding water is washing. Chances are if you take a long trip you will need to wash your clothes at some stage. Try washing certain items of clothing such as your jocks in the shower the night before and let them dry overnight, ready for you to start the day afresh.

travel boat photo

10. Cash Exchange


The best tip I can give is to not exchange your money at the first place you see, which is generally the currency exchange at the airport. Sometimes these exchanges at the airport have a good rate but it’s best to shop around. If you need to do so exchange a little amount of money and then when you get into the center of the city try shopping around for a better deal.


Try withdrawing cash from the ATM’s (firstly get a travel card) as they tend to have lower rates. If you need cash straight away use a taxi and ask the driver to take you to an ATM on your way from the airport. Alternatively, you may be lucky and meet some other travelers who are trying to get rid of the currency you need.


If you are wanting to avoid getting ripped off with exchange rates and know how much your money is worth – download the XE Currency app and load up the currency while you have Wi-Fi.



So what are you waiting for? Use all that money you have now saved and spend it on something more valuable; traveling for longer.

Connect with Mikey here:

Spotted Places : @theyoyotraveller

Instagram         : @theyoyotraveller

Blog                  :

Facebook         :

Mike Gleeson

Mike Gleeson

Guest Blogger

Aussie, part-time traveller, part-time graphic designer and/or chef.

Over the last few years, I’ve been in and out of Australia, traveling the globe (mainly Europe). I’ve lived in the U.K. and The Netherlands which enabled me to travel in and out of Europe. This is when I fell in love with Europe and the whole traveling lifestyle. The freedom, the sights, the people…. all of it. I love to travel and plan on visiting every country in the world.


For more of my travels, check out my blog!

Featured Posts

Peru’s Jungle City

Peru's Jungle City Guest post by: Nicole Tegge I think for most of us, we grow up with vivid images of the Amazon jungle: man-crushing anacondas, stalking jaguars, sky-scraping tree canopies.  Well, at least I did, probably due to my fascination with all-things...

Things to Do in Cape Town

Everything You Need to Do in Cape TownGuest post by: Lucy BuchholzThe Mother City, otherwise know as Cape Town, is the oldest city in South Africa, and home to a range of beautiful animals, breath-taking views and fun-filled activities. It’s no wonder that there is an...

Visiting the Maldives – With Kids!

Visiting the Maldives -With Kids!Have you ever dreamt about visiting the Maldives -- that picture-perfect country of atolls where you can often find couples (and perhaps ABC’s The Bachelorette) escaping to for a luxury vacation in an overwater bungalow?  Yes?  Us...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This