Transport within a country can be one of those costs that really catch people out, as it is something that can really add up, but is also something that many people don’t consider. Of course prices vary drastically from country to country and dependent on the type of transport you choose.
The cost of the cheapest public transport in London can be as much as private transport and taxi’s in others for just one example! One of the cheapest ways to travel is obviously public transport regardless of where you are. public transportation safety statistics is must know.
Travel the way the locals do, it will give you an entirely different experience of the place you are in. It may not be the most comfortable, or the most convenient some of the time, but it will net you huge savings and is often a large part of the travel experience.
Some transport options are so ingrained within the identity of a place that it is almost a sin not to travel in them, the Abella night train from Cairo or the ubiquitous tuk tuk’s of India and Thailand, you haven’t really been to some of these places unless you have experienced these modes of transport, but wherever you are public transport is often the cheapest option.
Bus, train, subway, metro, no matter which option you choose it will be cheaper than getting a taxi or hiring a car, and it can really help immerse yourself into the local culture.
Many countries often have great pre paid systems for their public network systems, such as the EZ link cards for Singapore’s Metro (also one of the best and most efficient public transports system in the world).
These cards are an upfront expense, but can be great value for money if you plan on spending enough time in a city or country. If you are travelling through Europe, the InterRail one country pass or global pass can be a great money saver, especially if you plan on moving around a lot. If you are thinking about getting a pass like this for the countries you are visiting, weigh up how much it costs and how much you will actually be using the transport system.
Sometimes these prepaid systems are great value for money, other times you will be better off simply paying for each journey as you go.
Local buses, long distance coaches and trains are often very cheap ways of seeing large parts of the country you are visiting, and some of them are experiences in and of themselves. If using buses or coaches buying tickets from pre paid ticket stands you can save you a little bit of money.
Sometimes it may seem more expensive to do so on the face of it, but it ensures you are paying the correct ‘official’ fare rather than whatever extra the drivers want to add to the fare once they see a tourist.
The class of coaches and trains can make a big difference too, if you want to travel on an ultra cheap budget then getting whatever equivalent to third class tickets are in operation in the country you are in are often the cheapest options, and also one of the most crowded since it is usually the one used most by locals.
On the one hand it can be an uncomfortable way to travel if you are travelling long distances, but you will get a great feel of the local culture and often have some great experiences too! I once had a very surreal conversation with a Catholic priest, a nun and a Muslim Imam on a train in India by travelling this way! And no that is not the opening to some bad joke!
On the other hand, sometimes a bit of comfort on a long journey can be worth the extra few pounds on occasion too. Although it does technically take up more of your budget, first class train and coach travel in many parts of the world is still extremely cheap by Western standards and often the difference is not that much.
At the other end of the spectrum, sometimes public transport just won’t cut it. Maybe you have just got off a long flight and just want to find a place to crash, or maybe the distance is too great and you really don’t want to spend another night on an overnight public bus safety tips .
That’s fine, there is no rule that says you have to take the cheapest option! Sometimes paying a little more for that extra convenience is worth it. Within any given town or city, taxi’s are an extremely easy and convenient way to get around.
They are often far more comfortable too, but not always, and are invariably much more expensive than taking a bus or hopping on the metro for example. Used within reason, you can still backpack on a budget and use taxis. The only problem here is that you have to then deal with one of the biggest banes of a backpackers daily life, taxi drivers. and remember safety tips for riding public transportation.
I have to stress that many taxi drivers are honest and polite, but you will at some point come across one or two of the common scams taxi drivers are famous for in the backpacking community, but I’ll tell you more about that later. Flying budget airlines for short haul flights can either work out really expensive or really cheap if you manage to bag one of the frequent deals that are out there.
Of course you can’t rely on luck, when you are budgeting you have to assume that flights are going to be one of the most expensive forms of travel, especially if you don’t plan ahead and try to get a last minute flight, but with the explosion of various budget airlines across numerous continents has really opened up many countries and regions to budget travel. Carriers such as Air Asia or Tiger Airways for example very often have frequent and comprehensive flights across Asia that are quicker and cheaper than overland travel. This isn’t always the point of course, sometimes overland travel is preferable, but at least the option is there. If you are on an extended trip of a few months or more and plan on visiting more than one country but don’t want to pre book all your flights or transport beforehand, then setting aside a portion of your overall budget for a few flights as well as a few coach or train tickets, and part of your daily budget for taxi or public transport costs, then you will be fine. You basically have to weigh up comfort and convenience over cost. Many backpackers don’t stick to one way or the other, but travel using a variety of different ways dependent on which is best at the time.
Dependent on how long you are travelling for and how many countries you are visiting, you should have a rough idea of how many inter or cross country trips you will need to make. If you do your research you should be able to find out rough costs for the trains, planes or coaches in between those places.
Budget for a first class ticket for each one and keep a fund specifically for that, then keep an extra fund specifically for the minor trips such as taxi’s from the airport or from your hotel to that monument you want to visit.
The amount will obviously differ depending on where you go and how long for, but it will stop you from getting a nasty shock when your money starts running out much faster than you anticipated.
It is best to over budget if you can too, so if you have any left over, you don’t use as many taxi’s as you thought you would or decide to go second or third class instead of first, or maybe you got a great bargain on that cheap budget flight from Thailand to Malaysia, then that little extra left over can be splurged on a nice hotel one night or an extra activity.
If you are travelling to certain areas you may already have a fair idea of things you want to see or do. You may want to see the Pyramids at Giza, the Taj Mahal in Agra, or you may have always dreamed of trekking the Machu Picchu trail in Peru. Whatever your particular dream is, it may seem obvious to budget for it beforehand. What may not seem so obvious is all the little extra activities that you will want to do along the way. Fancy visiting all those museums? Doing that elephant trek?
Hiring a guide for that hike into the jungle you didn’t know you could do or maybe even getting your PADI certificate after doing a couple of introductory dives?
All of these things and many more are part of what makes backpacking so much fun and are a huge part of the experience.
Many of them you won’t even know you can do until you arrive on the ground and the opportunity presents itself, the little surprises that you find along the way can often very quickly become some of the best parts of your trip, but the absolute worst thing that can happen is that you come across something you really want to do but have to pass it by because there isn’t enough wriggle room in your very tight budget.
So with that in mind, it is usually a really good idea to have a fund specifically for these experiences too. I know it is impossible to budget for something when you don’t know what you will be doing or how much it will cost, and obviously the more you have the better, but something is better than nothing and if you budget a little each day then that will soon add up.
If you can, try to budget as much as you would for your accommodation, or as close to it as you can get. Some days you won’t use this much at all, if any of it, especially if you hit a tropical island and you spend longer than you imagined laying in a hammock with a good book and an endless supply of fresh pineapple and mango juice, but the budget that you don’t use will soon add up and allow you to splurge when you need to.
Everyone should always have a fund completely separate from their travel budget to keep away for emergencies.
The emergencies that can occur are varied, some simply run out of money a week or two before they are due to fly home and need a boost of cash, or have their money or pack lost or stolen on the road. Others find that they need to cut their year long trip short and fly home for whatever personal reasons that they may have. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
That is why having a just in case emergency fund is always a good idea. Some people simply stick to keeping a credit card on them for just such an emergency, others rely on the bank of mum and dad and the glorious invention of wire transfers.
Personally, I think it is better to also have a small lump sum in a separate account that you can dip into if you need to, although a credit card is certainly a great back up too.
Basic budget layout.
This example layout is for someone travelling on a comfortable midrange budget in places such as SE Asia, India or South America for example, sleeping and eating in a mixture of budget and mid range places and travelling on public transport with a few taxis and chartered flights thrown in. It will allow for some flexibility and unexpected activities and does not include pre trip expenses such as passports, flights and so on. Obviously you can get things a lot cheaper and travel on an extreme budget, but conversely you can spend a lot more too and travel in ultra luxury.
If you over budget, then travel a little bit cheaper (by eating at more street stalls than you expected to or getting great deals on cheap hotels for example), then any money left over will allow more splurges or even an extended trip.
The exact amounts will change too dependent on the many factors outlined above, specifically where you are travelling (a great budget for Vietnam won’t go very far in Singapore for example), how long you are travelling for and how you want to travel, but when you have a finished budget it should look something like this. Accommodation — £10 — £20 GBP per night. Eating — £5 — £10 per day. Travel — £5–10 per day. Activities — £10 per day. Daily budget — £30 — £50 GBP. Weekly budget — £210 — £350 GBP. Monthly budget — £840 — £1400 GBP. Remember, this may look on the high side a little, but it is only a very rough average. Of course in many countries this budget will stretch extremely far and you will travel extremely comfortably, in others you will struggle on this budget. You may not even spend £10 every single day on activities, but may blow a fair amount more on a single activity that takes up your whole activity budget for that week.
The big trick is to budget for how YOU travel as an individual, a budget that is right for one person may be completely wrong for the next, so a rough idea of how much to budget is fine, but you will always have to take your individual travel preferences into account too.
For those who are travelling on extended trips and hopping from country to country, it is a good idea to consider the countries you are going to visit.
Budgeting more if you are predominantly visiting the traditionally much more expensive countries or regions such as England, Europe, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand or Australia for example can really make a big difference.
Also, remember to not pass up on the unique once in a lifetime experiences if you can help it, even if they cost a bit. It is these experiences you are travelling for, remember? You can always sacrifice a little hotel room luxury and amenities if you need to balance the budget later.