Also difficult to answer. I have never really set a budget for my travels. For example: On my first nomad escape in 2010, when I stayed in Brazil for half a year my budget was still limited to 1000 Euros a month for the first three months. Then it increased to 2000.
In 2012, when I cycled to India with a few friends, my budget was actually limited by my friends’ budgets. One of them had only about 450 Euros per month so we decided to jointly camp anywhere. We would sleep at gas stations, at the side of the road, do Couchsurfing, or strangers would take us in. Anything. Sometimes, also hotels when we decided it was time for a warm shower again. So I never hit my monthly limit for travels. But it would have also been somewhere between 1500 and 2000 Euros a month.
Last year, I hitchhiked to Pakistan. We filmed the entire tour and had pre sold the material to a production company and TV station in Germany. So many of the expenses were covered via our production budget. This kind of thing I have taken advantage of quite often by now.
So if you want to lower your expenses for traveling there are a few things you can do:
- Travel like a local – hitchhike or take a bicycle (a great way to get to know places), longboard or whatever human-propelled means of transport you can lay your hands on. This will save you quite some money.
- Travel slowly….the longer you can stay in a place, the less you will spend on transportation. Also, you can find cheaper accommodation, find the local joints to eat in, make local friends and avoid all the tourist traps. Also, chances are that you will attract locals who want to show you their country, invite you and just make you feel at home (this happened a lot in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and even Hungary and Romania).
- Be flexible. I guess this is a no brainer, but if you have time and can choose any flight of any time then you can take advantage of the best deals and won’t have to pay a fortune during high season
- Connect your travel to a project – this is what I have done a few times now. Traveling to India on a bicycle for a good cause (and making a film about it, plus having a crowdfunding campaign) got us a few sponsors for our gear, such as super professional bicycles. Hitchhiking to Pakistan for a good cause and making yet another documentary about it, paid for my visas, a bunch of gear, hotels and hostels and the flight back. Last year, I flew to Tunisia, Egypt and India for projects that were partially paid for and I could extend my stay for my own pleasure. Also, if you are a travel blogger then you can also try to get sponsorships.
- Stay with friends or friends of friends and make good use of your network. A friend invited me last year to stay with her for a week in Senegal. I said yes. Another friend of mine chipped in and provided free tickets to fly there. Yet another friend of mine is always networking with airline people because they can assign standby tickets to friends and relatives. So she usually flies very, very cheaply. Is this luck? Maybe…but it is also networking and looking for great opportunities to see places.
- Get on sites like couchsurfing and warmshowers. Or you could also look at home-sitting if you want to stay in a nice place but not pay rent.
- Travel in the off season
- Travel to countries with low costs of living. South East Asia and India are good starting points, and also many countries in Central and South America.
Okay, these are but a few options to travel cheap(er). I am sure there are plenty more and you can ask me all about them in the comments. =)