Backpacking…how do I afford it? Great question! I barely do! 🙂
As a first time solo backpacker, I am learning everything as I go. I’ve already had a few people ask me how do I manage to travel through Australia, South East Asia and New Zealand–financially and just generally. It’s a great question, so bear with me as I gather my thoughts and try to explain this. We’ll focus on money for this post and I’ll explain some other details about backpacking and how I get around in a later post.
To be helpful, I have to be 100% honest with you. So, let me tell you all about my bank account! I graduated in May and I only had about $1000 in my savings account (woo! Big money!). I got a summer job as a marketing coordinator and shortly realized I needed more money if I was going to make this happen. So, I got a second job as a waitress.
Right off the bat, I was working my ass off with 13-16 hour days. I worked 8:30am-4:30pm then 6pm-2am, or 9pm-2am. I worked at a bar at night and quit after about two months out of pure exhaustion, but that’s all I needed! I saved all my checks and lived off tips. By the time I was ready to leave the states in early October, I only had about $5,500. Yep, that’s it for a 5 months excursion.
I booked some things before I left, so subtract about $1000 from that for hostels in Australia, scuba diving training classes, Greyhound bus transportation (the most popular way to travel the East coast for backpackers), travel visa for Australia and a plane ticket out of Australia to Bali. So, really I left the states with around $4,500. Not that much money.
I’m really roughing it and am the definition of budget travel. I stay in dorm style hostel rooms with up to 10 other people, buy most of my food from the grocery store (or jump on the free food at the hostel), limit my alcohol consumption (or stalk the happy hour specials) as a pint of beer in Sydney is about $9 USD and take advantage of free activities, like city walks, hikes and just laying on the beach. I do A LOT of walking, but I think that’s the best way to see the places I’m visiting!
This money should (emphasis on SHOULD) last me through Australia and South East Asia until I get to New Zealand at the beginning of February, then I’ll get a job with my work visa in NZ. I don’t expect this money to support me through New Zealand and I definitely don’t expect to buy a plane ticket home with this money either. I do expect this money to get me to New Zealand, then it is my responsibility to find a job and save enough money to get home. Thankfully, New Zealand has more jobs than people.
You can afford to backpack. Let me reiterate, YOU CAN AFFORD TO BACKPACK. You just can’t stay at resorts and dine lavishly for every meal. Well, I guess you could, but then you wouldn’t have money to do the funs things, like scuba diving and sky diving, which I’m definitely going to do on this trip.
This type of travel is not for everyone. You can’t be high maintenance with this kind of travel. Think about it, I have all my clothes for the next five months in a backpack…so I’m pretty much recycling the same five shirts, three shorts and two dresses. But, that’s the life!
In a later post, I’ll get into more detail about how I get around and how I prepared for something like this. But for now, I’m off the explore Byron Bay!