One of the main things to keep in mind before starting a trip is the economic aspect. How much will I spend per month? How much money do I need to save prior to hit the road? Obviously, you need to carry something in your pocket, but do not exaggerate either. "You must have a lot of money," I have been told more than once. I do not have it nor want it. The truth is that you can travel with little money, and it's how many people enjoy the most. The trick is to spend little... And setting a simple/humble travel style, rather than set a fixed or maximum budget. Thus, you will spend more or less depending on the country or geographical region in which you are traveling. In this blog we focus on travelers who travel the world with little money, so we will see a budget backpacker, regardless of the purchasing power of each. I do not like to talk about travel budgets, in the same way that I do not like to say how many days you should dedicate to each place in a specific itinerary. This is very personal and each person will have their priorities. But let's do it. It is impossible to give an exact number for this budget, since it will vary depending on several factors. To highlight the destination, the pace/rhythm of travel and the way of traveling (that is, what you are willing to do for saving money). Traveling slowly and hitchhiking in Bolivia is not the same as doing it by buses and planes in Canada. Let's see these three factors.
In the world there are 194 countries ("recognized"), each with its prices. To simplify it a lot, let's say that a backpacking trip through South America, Africa or Asia will be cheaper than one around North America, Europe or Australia. For example, a menu in a restaurant in Bolivia (again Bolivia!) can range between 1 and 2 euros, while in Canada you will hardly find it below 10 euros. Not to mention transport and accommodation. These basics of a trip, however, have a solution (as we will see). What has no solution are the tourist sites and excursions, such as museums, archaeological sites, jungle or wildlife watching tours, etc. Definitely some countries are more expensive than others.
Someone who travels slowly will spend less because they will invest less in transportation and tourist sites (or at least it will be more spaced out in time). But, in addition, spending longer periods in each place will allow you to know the tricks of those places, such as the cheapest hostels and restaurants, so you will spend less on accommodation and food. In my first trips I used to travel fast because I wanted to see lots of things. That made me spend more money. As you gain experience on the road you learn to travel slower and enjoy other things.
WAY OF TRAVELING OR WILLINGNES TO "SUFFER" A BIT FOR SAVING
This is the most interesting factor. A traveler without economic resources can prolong her/his adventure. The two main expenses of a trip, transport and accommodation, are possible to save in large part wherever you go: traveling by bike or lifting your thumb on the road, and carrying a tent in your backpack. I save a lot thanks to travel by hitchhiking and camping free whenever I can (which is almost always). There is also the option of Couchsurfing, especially in medium and large cities. Cyclotourists can also use Warmshowers. Those X euros per month for transportation (let´s say 100) and those other X euros for sleeping (let´s say 300) will remain in your pocket thanks to these tricks. In the end, your expenses will be reduced to eating and visiting tourist sites.
But there are also things you can do to reduce food costs. There are countries where it costs the same (or even cheaper) to eat in a restaurant than to cook yourself (eg, Bolivia or Peru). And there are others in which the food is so delicious that it is worth spending the entire budget on it (Mexico). But, generally, it is convenient to travel with a stove and cook our own food. You will save a lot with this little trick. Then there is the option of Dumpster Diving. You can imagine what it is, and it may sound a little extreme... But the reality is that the society we live in is wasting a lot of food in good condition and not only you will be saving for your trip, but also you will do a favor to the planet. If you are going to spend a season in a town or city, find out about a point where you can do dumpster diving and go for your food. Water can always be taken from sources or by having the bottle filled at restaurants or stores, unless the water in the area is not drinkable.
As for visiting tourist sites, if you are a student try to get the international student card, because it can be valid for various museums, archaeological sites and Natural Parks. If you have little money you can visit only the ones you like the most. And take advantage of the cheapest countries for excursions.
In the end, the most exciting and beautiful thing about traveling are not tourist places, but sharing with local people and travelers. And get lost in nature. All that you can do without spending much.
In short, tips to save the most:
Do not spend on transportation: travel by bike or by hitchhiking
Do not spend on accommodation: free camping and Couchsurfing
Never buy water: have your bottle filled in stores, Cafeterias, shops, etc
Reduce expenses in food: markets and family restaurants in cheap countries and cooking with your stove in expensive countries
Visit less tourist sites
Spend more time in nature and less in the city
So back to the initial question: how much does it cost to travel as a backpacker around the world? 80, 200, 500, 1000 euros a month… It´s up to you dear friend!
I say it again, there will be a lot of variety in terms of what different travelers will spend when visiting a specific region or country, so establishing a backpacking budget is difficult. Each person has different conditions and priorities. Not everyone has the same money, and not everyone will want to take a tent in their luggage or travel by hitchhiking. Let's see what you can spend on some points of the map assuming you barely invest in accommodation and transportation. That is, traveling as humbly as posible.
Latin America. I think that for a trip to Latin America with 150-200 euros per month you have more than enough (you can even do it with less). Maybe a fair bit for more expensive countries like Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile or Costa Rica, but plenty for others like Ecuador, Colombia or Peru.
Asia. Although I have not been, I imagine that with less you can do it, because it is cheaper (except for some countries). Let's say 100 euros a month.
North America and Europe. For North America and most of Europe with 300-350 euros per month you have enough to travel in good condition (even with less).
The truth is that traveling while spending little is my main secret to travel long and hard (and in the most adventurous way!). So if you want to stay on the road for many months, you already know what my advice is. You can read more about ways to save and earn money by clicking on this post.