While backpacking around Southeast Asia gives you plenty of fun, adventure, and freedom, you do have to think about money. Most people involves in this type of lifestyle must have a strategy in place to ensure they can get their money to go as far as possible. The good news is it is fairly cheap to travel in this area. Alcohol costs next nothing, you can eat well for just a few dollars per day, and you can get very comfortable accommodations for a low price. Backpacking in Thailand can be an amazing experience if you stretch your money.
Do your homework before you backpack to the area. This will allow you to identify the less expensive areas of Southeast Asia. For example, it is far less expensive in Cambodia than any other areas. The Philippines is also very low cost. Spend more time in these areas to stretch your money further. Both Indonesia and Myanmar are among the most expensive, so limit your time in these areas.
Negotiate the Cost of Everything
Too many travelers in Southeast Asia pay the asking price for items. Backpacking through Thailand can get you into the habit of negotiating everything once you get the hang of it. This includes your meals, accommodations, and items you decide to buy as reminders of your travels to this area. Be polite and be confident and you will often get a discount on just about all of it! The savings is really going to add up quickly, and you will be able to make your money go much further.
Negotiating should be taken seriously, but it is also a game. Never be rude or disrespectful to anyone. Don’t show any disrespect either buy offering a price that is so low, it is ridiculous. Spend some time finding out what a reasonable price is for that item and use it as a basis for negotiating. Try to observe others negotiating and see how it works out for them. You can pick up on their skills that way and learn what works and what doesn’t.
Explore the Art of Couchsurfing
If you play your cards right, you will rarely need to pay for a hotel or hostel while you are in Southeast Asia. You can work in exchange for accommodations and even food. You can stay with one of the locals and shadow them to learn about what they do and their culture. This is a phenomenal experience that will teach you plenty. At the same time, it is a way to save you money. You should also share about your own culture with them so it is an exchange and they take plenty away from it too. You are going to meet some amazing people this way if you are open to the concept. It is one of the least utilized parts of backpacking through Southeast Asia.
Another option that isn’t widely used, but can save you money, is hitch hiking. You may be seeing red flags all over this suggestion as it goes against what you have been taught. Yet it can be a wise choice to save you money, to get where you want to go, and to meet new people. If you aren’t fond of the idea or you aren’t having any luck, use the public bus system. It may be crowded but it is inexpensive. Avoid the VIP tourist buses, those are expensive.
When you do have to rely on a taxi, do what you can to fill it up. Share the cost with several other people. Dividing the cost four ways is much more affordable than paying full price on your own! You can also backpack with someone so you always have a person to split the cost of a hotel or hostel with.
Find yourself some work along the way too. You will learn new skills, meet new people, and be able to get information you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get. You can share skills you have, teach English, and much more. Keep in mind the pay is going to be low due to the low cost of everything.
It is also fun and rewarding to volunteer your time. You aren’t going to get paid in money but you will gain experience and contacts. You may be offered discounted accommodations and free meals in exchange for your time. Make sure you find a reputable organization to volunteer through.
Protect your Property
Make sure you protect your property when you are backpacking through Southeast Asia. Don’t get caught up in exploring and lose your wallet or your phone. Don’t become a victim of scams because tourists can be common prey. Create a budget so you aren’t struggling with money issues. Have some funds put away for emergencies such as not feeling well or having to replace something during your backpacking adventures.