People asking if they can travel for months with minimal savings.

I’ve seen a few people asking if they can travel for a long time with next to no money. I thought I’d write a few quick things you need to consider.

Example of the types of questions people often wonder:

I want to backpack through X country for 6 months. I only have $2000us can I do it?


What’s the longest I can travel for with only $1000?

TL;DR Yes, you can travel as long as you like with minimal money but you have to be prepared to make more sacrifices.


This is aimed at people wanting to travel on a really really low budget. Now, I’m not here to say you can’t travel for 2 years with $1200 but I just want to point out some realities. Firstly, travelling on a super low budget isn’t bad or wrong it’s simply a style of traveling. If you’re passionate about doing it, have done the research and understand whats involved I’m sure you will have the adventure of a lifetime and should definitely go for it.

Keep these harsh realities in mind though:

High cost Experiences

Traveling is all about your experiences and meeting people, and some of those experiences cost money. You will have to decide what is really worth your money rather than doing / seeing what you actually want. The realities are you basically won’t be able to do anything from this top category on your trip.

  • Helicopter / plane / boat tours

  • Skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping,

  • Nature safaris, whale watching,

  • Skiing, dogsledding

  • Quad biking, dune buggies

  • Horseriding

Low-Mid range experiences

So many famous tourist attractions cost over $20 if you don’t just want to just look from the outside. Did you come half way around the world to Edingburgh and can’t afford to see the castle? You’re in San Francisco but can’t go to Alcatraz? You get my gist.

  • Museums – lots of famous museums are really expensive.

  • Hop-on-Hop-off buses

  • Tours

  • Entry to National parks

  • Ropes courses

  • A theatre / show

  • Snorkling

  • Kayaking

  • Nightclub entry

  • Bike rentals

  • Cable cars

  • Breweries / wineries


You will have to be prepared to sleep anywhere.

  • Couchsurf, park benches, stangers you meet, shitty hostels.

  • A hostel bed in a half-decent place in the city Centre might be $20 or pay $11 for one 30 minutes away in a place rated 23%. You have to be prepared to choose the cheap option.


  • 3 days hitchhiking for $0, a 17 hour bus for $25, or 2hr flight for $45. That can be a tough call to make.

  • Buses / metro around the city $2 one way – that’s gonna add up. Better walk 2 hours.

  • You can’t rent a car or campervan

  • You can’t take a taxi or uber

  • Airport shuttle buses and trains are expensive

  • There’s a bus that leaves at 9am for $14 or one that leaves at 4am for $9. Hope you like early mornings.

Food and Drink

So many places have amazing local dishes and beers / wines. You’re eating noodles and rice. Every. Single. Night…

  • No proper meat: no steaks, no fresh fish,

  • No gourmet take out eg chipotle. You only get cheeseburgers at best

  • You can’t buy bottled water during the day for $2 you need to BYO.


  • It’s pub crawl at your hostel, great way to meet people. You’re drinking tap water and being that guy that scabs beers.

  • Some friends you’ve made are all going to the Guiness Storehouse tomorrow, you’re googling pictures of Guiness.

  • You want to go to the nightclub everyone’s going to and it’s 2 for 1 happy hour. You can’t even afford the $10 to get in.

  • One big night of drinking and partying can easily cost you 10% of your entire travel funds.

  • Your new friends are off to Florence for a few days but the transport and the hostel is far too much, you can’t go.

Gifts / souvenirs

  • See an awesome new t-shirt. Nope

  • Found the perfect gift for your mum at home. Nope

Other random costs you have to avoid

  • Can’t afford hostel laundry or a laundromat you have to wash everything by hand

  • Atm fees can be like $3 (thats enough pasta for a week)

  • Toilets can cost $1. Watcha gonna do when you’re desperate.

  • Be careful when riding the metro with no ticket,  if you get fined that basically ends your trip.

  • If you get robbed it hurts you so much more (plus you probably dont have travel insurance)

  • Weather can suck so much more. Harder to hitchhike when its pouring rain for 3 days.

  • Getting sick can crush your expenses

  • What will life be like when you get back from traveling and have $0

Please take all of this with a grain of salt. I didn’t want to come accross all negative and crush your dreams. There is absolutely nothing wrong with traveling for a long time with a small budget. I have heard stories about people who have had the most incredible trips with spending next to nothing. Some argue it’s even better. Every country is different and some are cheaper and some are more expensive. Like any trip you have to think about what you want to get out of it and what you want your money to go towards.

Just remember every trip is different and you will have fun no matter what you choose 🙂


  1. Another thing to consider: many countries can and will ask for proof of funds at the border. If you land at Heathrow, tell the immigration officer you’re planning on staying 6 months, and only have $1,000 to your name, you’ll likely be turned away and sent home because they worry you’ll either have to work illegally or get help from charities or government social services.

    1. Truf! Almost got turned away at the Irish border because of this. Asked for 2 weeks in their country and was granted 1. Dude was cranky that day or something. A few years later I went back to Ireland, asked for 2 years, still didn’t have proof of funds and was let right in. /shrug

  2. I can’t imagine not eating the local food (though this doesn’t have to be super expensive), going shopping (esp. if I’m in a place like Korea or Taiwan, there’s just too much stuff to pass up on), or experiencing the night life.

  3. I was just in Japan for a month, and having to cook instant noodles at a hostel instead of going out to Sushi and Ramen would have made it a much, much less magical experience. And those usually weren’t expensive places. $10 for Sushi or Ramen was pretty normal.

  4. This is an amazing post. So many people boast about how possible it is to travel for really cheap, yet completely ignore all the things they miss out on because of being cheap.

  5. The people who travel super cheap come in 2 flavors (mostly):

    they’re not really traveling as much as moving/living in different places. They rent a cheap condo in Chiang Mai for as little as $150/month that is -very- livable and sort of exist in a place for a while… This is a pretty good strategy, but this crowd is essentially living somewhere, not traveling, and they’re staying away from anything touristy. Once you get into petting tigers and taking elephant rides and eating in a touristy area (or just a wealthier area) your costs explode very quickly.

    Hostels are full of backpackers who sit on their smartphones on the couch, wait for the communal hostel pasta dinner, and go to the local shack to buy a 40oz of cheap alcohol… and that’s what they do for week after week after week…. with only very occasional experiences that go beyond “walking around town.”

    For me, the biggest disappointment of travel expense is housing. I’m in my 30s and I don’t want to sleep on dingy 20 year old hostel mattresses 6 to a room like an illegal immigrant in a local migrant house in the ghetto of NYC. It’s dirty, they rarely clear the shared bathrooms, etc.

    After a day of sweating my butt off riding a motorcycle, I really appreciate a clean and pleasant room with a bathroom that is closely related to social activities/bars/clubs/restaurants. In most of the world, this doesn’t come cheap at all. Even in cheap regions like SEA, the cost is about $25-35/day. That’s not much at all – it’s great value. But if you travel for months at a time, that’s $1000/month right there.

  6. Thank you for very clear and useful tips. I think that the choice of destinations (countries) is the initial factor to make your low-cost trip successful. Make sure that you understand the living cost there before planning to travel.

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