This post is way overdue but, here you go guys. More than 7 months ago I embarked on a backpacking journey for 44 days covering 4 countries. The original itinerary was to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. But as fate would have it, it didn’t go as expected and ended up just visiting Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. No regrets, I still had a blast!
So just to give you an overview, here’s a map of the places I visited. I actually did mostly non-touristy things and also partied a lot. Hihi (8% of my total expenses went to alcohol & beer!!)
They say traveling is only for the privileged, I beg to disagree. I am sharing my expense details to show everyone that traveling, especially in Southeast Asia, can be really cheap and affordable.
I am known by my friends as very “kuripot“ (cheapskate). When I started this journey I have very limited budget, so as much as possible I find ways to save money. I tracked all my expenses from Day 0, logging it in a small notebook and on my phone (in case one gets lost, I still have a backup LOL). Take note that I resigned from my job and no other source of income aside from my savings.
I won’t go into every single detail of my expenses in this post but you can review the spreadsheet I created where you can see every single item I spent on every place I visited, go check out 44-days Backpacking Challenge Detailed Expenses (Effort teh sa pag-ayos ng excel. Whew!).
All amounts (VND, USD & THB) are already converted into PHP based on the exchange rate during the time of travel. In the spreadsheet I created, I itemized everything first in local currencies then converted the total amount.
So the total amount I spent, including the pre-departure expenses (flights, insurance, etc.) is, DRUM ROLL PLEASE……
That’s under PHP 60,000 for 6 weeks on the road. Well, of course, it can still be cheaper if I didn’t spend so much on booze.
I categorized my expenses into 8 groups, namely: Food & Drinks, Transportation, Accommodations, Tour Fees, Toiletries, Alcohol & Beer, Clothing, and Miscellaneous.
You might be wondering why Alcohol & Beer has its own category, if you still don’t know, I love to drink! I separated it from Food & Drinks because for some people who don’t drink that much, they can subtract it from their expenses.
Miscellaneous on the other hand covers, pasalubong, souvenirs, travel insurance, pre-departure expenses, laundry, etc.
|Food & Drinks||11,486.65||
|Alcohol & Beer||4,554.80||
There are a lot of ways for you to cut costs and save money while traveling. In my experience, immersing yourself into the local way of living will save you a lot. Here are some helpful tips for you if you’re planning to travel for long periods of time.
- COUCHSURFING. Yes, I know this is a bit sketchy for some but this is a great way for you to save on accommodations, at the same time meet awesome locals or expats. In Vietnam, I had hosts in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh during my whole stay there, which gave me extra money to spend on other things.
- EAT LOCAL FOOD. Local meaning, normal food and not exotic ones like cockroach, scorpion, grasshoppers and duck fetus. A lot of local food are cheap and delicious. For someone like me who loves to try new things, I usually go to a restaurant where locals are lining up and fewer tourists.
- BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS MONTHS AHEAD. This is a no-brainer by now, everyone knows this tip already. Better if you can book during seat sales.
- DON’T BOOK EVERYTHING ONLINE. Another helpful lesson I learned during the trip. I guess it’s okay to book an accommodation online for a couple of days, but if you will be staying in a place for long periods of time, like what I did in Siem Reap, you will be surprised that there are other cheaper options once you get there. I suggest you book a place for a night or 2 then dedicate one morning/afternoon looking for places to stay. This will help you save a couple of bucks from additional fees online.
- MAKE FRIENDS. Traveling around Southeast Asia, you will meet a lot of backpackers who are traveling solo and have a limited budget. Don’t be afraid to approach people and say hi, especially if you are staying in a hostel. Traveling with a company will help you lessen your expenses because you guys share costs on tours, transportations, etc.
- GET TRAVEL INSURANCE. If you will be traveling for a long time, I strongly suggest getting a travel insurance. There are a lot of providers that offer affordable plans. I got mine for a little over PHP 2,500, thanks to my financial advisor who hooked me up. When I was in Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand, I got into a motorcycle accident with a French buddy, good thing it was nothing major and just had wounds and bruises. For unexpected situations like those, it’s always better to have an insurance ready in case you need any medical assistance or hospitalization.
- HAGGLE, HAGGLE, HAGGLE. One thing I love doing especially when shopping in markets is haggling. Most of the time, locals will markup their products for tourists. The way I do it, I will try to haggle half the original price as my starting point then go on from there. It takes a lot of practice, but you will get the hang of it eventually.
Traveling now has never been this accessible to everyone. Backpacking the way I did may not be for everyone but budget travel will turn you into an adventurer. This only proves that you don’t have to spend that much to be able to travel.
You don’t have to be rich to travel well. – Eugene Fodor
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