Have you ever had a dream about Backpacking around the World or traveling in your own country?. You have probably never gone beyond the dreaming stage. Simply because you have the belief that a trip like that is way too expensive?.
Today, if you ask anyone what their best hobby is, the answer is always the same: “Traveling.” Yet few people have the experience that comes along with it.
The truth is, backpacking around the world is cheaper than you actually think. The best tool when it comes to backpacking or traveling around the world is looking for opportunities and be willing to take them. Don’t let your empty wallet, cultural mindset or work stop you from taking that trip of a lifetime.
Having traveled to over 30 countries in the world and backpacking in my own country – Kenya, I have found a number of tools and hacks that have helped me enjoy my trips on a budget.
For a backpacker, I expect you are on a budget and would want to cut accommodation costs as much as possible. Thanks to the rise of the Sharing Economy concept, now you can stay anywhere in the world for almost free.
Airbnb: Airbnb is an Accommodation share economy website just like Uber (ridesharing), Vayable (tours), BlaBlaCar (ridesharing) and EatWith (meals). With this Application, you get to choose from a wide pool of hosts who are willing to rent out a room to you at a cheap price. You also get advice on cheap deals in the area.
Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is one of the best share economy websites I have used. You get hosted by a local Couchsurfer in their home for free. You may be lucky to have a room but most the time you get a couch or an air mattress. The good thing about Couchsurfing is that you meet amazing people who are willing to backpack, take road trips and attend local meetups with you for free.
WWoofing: WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. As a WWOOFer you get linked to people with organic farms that are looking for volunteer help across the world. You help them with farm work and in return, you get free accommodation, food, and local tours. To sign up as a WWOOFer to pay about $25 per year. I have never used WWOOF myself but I have had great stories from my friends.
Volunteering: I have used Voluntourism (volunteer + tourism) in East Africa and it’s my best means. You can go backpacking to any destination for a cause. You volunteer in a local community by teaching a language, helping out with daily activities, or building houses and schools and in return, you get free accommodation and food. Contact a children’s home of your choice and offer to volunteer. You can also use some of the good voluntourism sites that will point you in the right direction: Voluntourism.org, ProjectsAbroad.org, and GlobeAware.org.
Hostels and Accommodation Offer: Book a hostel or look out for offers from online booking sites like Hostel World, Booking.com, HostelBrockers, Jumia Travels, Kayak, Hotel Tonight, Milimani Backpackers and Distant Relatives Eco Lodge- Kilifi Backpackers.
When looking for a cheap flight, avoid travel agents as much as possible. They are in business and their prices are always at a profit. The only good thing they offer is assistance if you have any trouble checking in or if you miss a flight. Below are a number of ways in which you can book cheap flights.
Google flights: Google flights is the best and cheapest online platform you will get when it comes to booking cheap flights to whichever destination. You get real-time information on prices and destinations.
Expedia: Expedia shows you the cheapest options available from all the airlines in the world. They also give you an option to shop for travel insurance, hotels, airport pickup, car rentals, outdoor activities among others. Always look out for their offers and discounts. Other budget websites are Vayama, Kayak and Jumia Travels.
Book directly from the airline desk or website: This will give you a fair ticket price. You will also be sure to get assistance in case of any flight delays or cancellation. Check out if they have an offer and take the advantage. When traveling in or out of Africa, my top picks have always been: Emirates and Etihad Airways for international travel and Ethiopian airline and Jambojet for Local and travels across Africa. For local travel, you should use local trains, buses or hitchhike.
Book In Advance: No matter which means you use to book your tickets, booking earlier will with no doubt give you the best deals. Avoid traveling during the high season at all costs. Traveling during busy times for a destination can raise the price of a single flight by 30% or more. High season: June, July & August. Dec 15 – Jan 10. Low season: Jan 10 – March 31. Another thing that can help you is connecting flights than using direct ones.
Travel community and other tools
Over the years there has been a rise in travel community websites and blogs. These tools are helping millions of people to plan their trips. I have discovered that there is always someone who has already taken a trip to the destination I have in mind. Most of them are more than willing to give advice. Some of the best modern backpacking tools are:
Trip Advisor: is undoubtedly the best travel blog. You can get advice and information about anything related to backpacking, traveling, airport transfer, adventure, volunteering, hotels, and accommodation in any part of the world. The website has contributors and reviewers who have first-hand knowledge of different destinations. It is a good forum to share your trips and experiences as well. Some of the other websites and blogs you can use are Lonely planet, NomadicMatt, WorldNomads, rei.com.
A few months ago I came across a post by a friend of mine, Kimeshan, about OneSimCard when I was on a Road trip to Kigali, Rwanda by bus. It was about OneSimCard. This is an international SIM card that allows you to receive calls for free while traveling in over 150 countries, it also allows you to make low-cost voice and data calls to any other country in the world.