“Travel”, as a word means different things to different people :
For some, it's a getaway from a monotonous routine
For others, it's a luxury escapade to pamper oneself
Some love exploring several cities or countries experiencing the best of what the city or country has to offer or is famous for.
And then there are “Backpackers” who are essentially budget travellers and are fascinated by the idea of exploring new destinations, experiencing new cultures and discovering different ways of life, and meeting people on the way. Backpacking is not a one-time thing, it's a way of life.
If you are someone who loves the idea of being free for a few days, weeks, or even months to live a life of adventure, to push yourself and surpass yourself while being aware of your surroundings and by changing your outlook on the world, this is for you. In this article, I will take you through some of the tried and tested tips of budget travel.
The real essence of backpacking is to put destinations and experiences over luxury and below is the complete guide for a budget trip.
Choose Public Transport
Not every location you visit comes with the privilege of having a taxi pick you up within minutes of your booking on an app. Also, the best way to know and understand a city is to travel in its local transport because local transport is a part of life for the locals of any city and it's not heavy on the pocket. You can cut a cab trip and take a local bus to save money for a day’s lunch, Now you can do the math for a several days backpacking trip.
I made a best friend in Karnataka’s Hampi region through a local bus, “Kumar Bhaiya” is a bus driver in Hampi and he was the only person who spoke English on the bus and that is how we became friends and I was invited to meet his family and for an authentic local lunch at his place in Hospet. You can read about Kumar bhaiya in my blog “Kumar- A brother in south”
Stay in Hostels
Staying in hostels not just saves you money but you have the opportunity to meet many like-minded people who are passionate about travel and backpacking. Over time you will have your own tribe of backpackers and you’ll have many more destinations to travel together.
In India, the hostel culture is budding and today in almost every travel destination you’ll find a hostel and in the far-off Himalayas where there are not many hostels, you can choose to stay in local guest houses that charge a very minimal amount. I have lived in one with as little as 300 rupees, a night in Kaza, Spiti Valley. Saving on a stay mostly defines your Budget travel.
Eat Local Food
Have you noticed how north Indian food is expensive and not so good in south India and South Indian food expensive and not anything near how it should taste in north India? Yes, eating local for sure helps you to save money for budget travel and at the same time you eat the most authentic food. While eating locally, you should choose a local market and try for some hygienic stalls rather than going to a fancy restaurant or cafe.
Choose to Travel Offseason
This might be the smartest decision you’ll ever make while planning your budget trip. Planning your trip in the off-season can save a lot of money. To give an example, I have stayed in the same hotel and similar room in Mussoorie for 500 rupees and 2500 rupees. Yes, it’s simple demand and supply. During the season the travel destinations are flooded with a lot of tourists and travelers and most of the hotels and hostels are occupied and the prices of not only stay but private transport and food spikes.
Along with the spike in the price you don’t have the vibe of the place as well because it's full of people. Once I stood in a queue for an hour in Udaipur to get a ticket for a local theater show and I couldn’t visit the fort because it was full. Hence plan your trip well in advance and plan it during offseason, and yes mostly every travel destination has a season when people visit there mostly, make sure to avoid it.
Invest in Good Gear
The only thing I will suggest you spend on is Gear. The base idea behind buying travel gear should be durability, versatility, and security. It is also a major aspect of travel because if you have to buy something you need at a travel destination that you didn’t pack while planning the trip is another hole in the pocket.
Following are things you must study and invest in as these will be a one-time buy and last for several years.
Gone are the days where we used trolley bags everywhere. Today it's important to be able to carry all your luggage and roam around the city on foot, hence a Rucksack is a right choice and you must go for a durable, multi-pocket backpack with good back support and which comes with a free rain cover. My favorite is the Travel 500 Backpack by Forclaz
A Backpacker must invest in versatile things, Like a 3 in 1 Jacket which can be used as a warm jacket as well as a waterproof jacket. Jackets like these can be bought one time. It can work as a warm jacket in Himalayan towns and as a waterproof jacket in areas where it's mostly rainy.
The apparel that you shop for backpacking must come with several pockets and should be durable as sometimes you travel in trains, busses, auto-rickshaw and crowded markets and at that time you shouldn’t be taking care of your gear or apparels. The gears and apparels should be taking care of your belongingsI mostly prefer Merino wool T-shirts and Inners while traveling because these reduce bad odour and dry quickly. I also prefer Cargo trousers with multiple secure pockets to keep my belongings safe and which can be converted into shorts. That's made my backpack lighter as well because I pack one pant to use it as a short as well as a trouser.
You can also read about the backpacking checklist for all you need to know about what to carry HERE