Backpacking as a college student/young adult is hard. Obviously we aren’t making top of the notch salaries and we might even be paying for school on our own along with other responsibilities. BUT it is 100% possible, I promise you. Budgeting is one of the most important things in order to make a trip possible. Before you can even worry about budgeting for the duration of your trip, you have to save for it! This is really hard especially depending on your responsibilities/age. But I believe traveling is a choice. You have to choose whether you’re getting an Uber home or taking the bus/metro/walking, do you really need that Starbucks?, do you want those heels or do you want to go hiking in Europe? These may seem like small costs, but they really do add up. Once you’ve saved up enough you should make a list including the cost of:
• Initial travel cost (to get to your starting point)
• Food per day
• Average cost of where you’re staying (usually hostels)
• Transportation (Will you get a Eurail pass? Taking Megabus? Individual train tickets? Or a mixture?)
• Cushion Money-This is so important!!!! Things are going to go wrong. Things will not go perfectly. But you are going to survive.
This will be your budgeting list. It’s always better to overestimate than to underestimate. Keep this in mind for all things on your list.
Where I Stay:
There are so many different options of cheap and even FREE accommodations. Let’s start with the free ones since those are probably the ones we all want to hear about.
• Couchsurfing.com is an online database of travelers, and people who are willing to accommodate them for free. This could be sleeping on their couch, on a mattress on the floor, or if you’re lucky maybe even your own room. Sometimes the hosts will even show you around town and share their culture with you. The database consists of people all over the world, even in places you wouldn’t even think of. (I have talked with a lot of people on here but never ended up staying with someone just for one reason or another.)
• WWOOF.net & Helpx.net are also online databases. These are a bit different. You pay a small initial fee for access to the website, and can then contact hosts all over the world. These set ups are also free, but in exchange for services. Usually you work on an organic farm, do yard work, tend to animals, or work around the house. The hosts usually have WiFi, and food is included! Make sure you read the profiles thoroughly as some hosts have very specific requests. I personally prefer Helpx.net because you get a longer membership for a smaller fee and the same service. I just used Helpx and volunteered at an English summer arts camp in Assisi, Italy. I had the amazing opportunity to teach my own poetry workshop using a proposal I created. I was there for two weeks including food, my own room, and a great experience all for free.
• MindMyHouse.com is again an online database. Here you can find people who are looking for house sitters. I haven’t used this one before but it seems that every post varies (including accommodations). It still looks like a very interesting option I will consider for future trips.
• Hostels.com & HostelWorld.com are essentially the same. It doesn’t hurt to look at both just to see if one has a listing the other didn’t. I usually always book with Hostels.com though. Hostels are cheap, shared rooms/dormitories with other travelers. The price varies depending on the size of the room and whether you’re willing to stay in a room with mixed genders. The room can vary from 4 beds to 18 or so. The average price in USD for a hostel is between $15-$25 a night. Some hostels will give you an under the table job in exchange for your stay. (I was offered a job as a bartender at my hostel in London but ended up not being able to.) The first thing I always look at is the list of facilities, location, price, and reviews. These are all important factors, each one can determine whether I’ll stay there or not. For facilities usually the most important things I look for on the list are: laundry services, WiFi, breakfast, kitchen (helps you save money), & last but not least if linens are included. The last one might seem a bit odd but not all hostels will provide sheets for the bed. I always choose ones that do so that I save space in my bag.
If you follow these steps regarding budgeting & accommodations you should have these parts of your next trip covered! I will go into planning in a separate post. It’s possible I may have forgotten some sites as there are many, if so I will add them later. If you have any additional resources or comments please feel free to add below.