15 Tips For Backpacking Around The World On A Dime

Another great Buzzfeed list from a guy who’s been to 196 (!) countries, and my commentary on each one.

15 Tips For Backpacking Around The World On A Dime (Click here for their commentary and pretty pictures, but then come back to read what I have to say!)

1. Avoid expensive countries.

This is why I have never been to Switzerland or Scandinavia but HAVE gone to Cambodia and Nepal.

2. Travel light

Four years of living as an expat without TV, cars and a closet-ful of clothes teaches you just how little you need to live. When I used to pack for my year-long overseas excursions, I always brought just two medium-sized suitcases.

3. Guidebooks save you money

I’ve found some of my favorite restaurants overseas in guidebooks. Guidebooks geared towards a specific city, which allow for greater detail about a smaller area, are particularly helpful. Eyewitness Guides are my personal favorite. Love the pictures.

4. Get traveler’s insurance

I must say I’m a bit meh on this one. I recently purchased travel insurance for a trip to India and after stolen cash,  two missed connections and some other mishaps, I was told that travel insurance covered none of it. Maybe my plan just sucked, but I was not impressed.

5. Get a good credit card

When my wallet was stolen in Spain, my Amazon Chase Visa sent me a new one within 2 days. When I called my local bank, they seemed confused and told me to come to their branch to get a new debit card. Some days, global corporations are not so bad.

6. Look for mega-cheap flights (obviously)

Flights are ridiculously expensive and there is little logic involved with the fares. A flight from New York to Miami is somehow cheaper than a flight from Miami to Tampa. Now that I’m a public school teacher, I have to take all my vacations in the summer. Before moving abroad, every February was my typical vacation because no one thinks of traveling in February. So there are a ton of great deals. I once scored a $299 air and 6-night hotel package from New York to London.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for things

A good point. Once, when utterly lost in Istanbul, I walked right in to a random hotel and asked for directions to a different hotel. They were very obliging and I soon got back. And there’s a very good chance that the hotel staff will speak English.

8. Student IDs = Discounts

My husband asked me just the other day why I still carry an old student ID card from over 7 years ago. There’s no expiration date on it, so I still use it! I guess I still look like a young grad student.

9. Overland it

There’s no doubt that overnight buses and trains are cheaper than flights. However, you will pay the cost in comfort too.

10. Eat street food

Having just returned from India, red warning lights went off in my head as I read this tip. There are many countries where eating street food = horrific travelers diarrhea, but I love the idea of eating cheap local food.

11. Drink with locals

Generally, doing ANYTHING with the locals is a great idea. When I lived in Istanbul, we found many great spots from our dear Turkish friends.

12. Avoid countries that demand visas

I find this one a bit controversial. I might revise this to say avoid countries that don’t provide visas on demand (e.g., Russia, China, India, Vietnam). Many countries like Turkey, Cambodia and Nepal issue visas at the border where you pay a fee and get a stamp without much hassle. However, are you really going to skip the Great Wall or the Taj Mahal because their countries require a pain-in-the-ass visa? Unlikely.

13. Bargain and bargain hard

I LOVE places where you can haggle! My bargaining strategy is the “walk-away.” When the price is too high, you simply pretend that you’re going to move on and start slowly walking away. I had a Chinese merchant follow me half the length of Tiananmen Square trying to sell me a Mao little red book. The further away I walked, the more the price came down. So after a 50% discount and a quarter-mile stroll, I finally bought it. On the flip side though, I really agree with the statement “save dollars, not pennies.” While a dollar may not be much to us, it could buy a day’s worth of food for a local.

14. Couch surf

My anti-social nature has not allowed me to try this. If you’ve ever couch-surfed, let me know about your experiences in the comments section!

15. No souvenirs

I agree to a certain point. As I’ve acquired more money, I have found myself splurging on an Egyptian papyrus or a Nepalese thangka. If you really must buy something but are super broke, just buy a postcard. I’ve managed to save all mine and arrange them into an awesome piece of wall art in our apartment.

My Postcard Wall (and yes, that is a Harry Potter pillow in the corner) Photo by Christina Brzustoski

My Postcard Wall (and yes, that is a Harry Potter pillow in the corner)  Photo by Christina Brzustoski

Check out more on Graham Hughes at his web site. I’m looking forward to reading through his travel journals.

What are your thoughts on Hughes’s travel tips? Completely agree? Vehemently disagree? Which ones do you love/hate and why?

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