How to Create a Backpacking Budget

spellbound travels how to create a backpacking budget

Dreaming about travel? There’s never going to be a ‘perfect’ time to start planning your next trip, so why not start now? Having a general budget is vital to long term travel or planning a backpacking trip, which is why I’m going to walk you through how to create a backpacking budget.

You can grab a FREE template to create a backpacking budget of your own at the bottom of this post! 

STEP 1: Before you get started

First things first, you’re going to need to tackle your current expenses. Write out everything you’re spending monthly from your phone plan to groceries and everything in between! Get as specific as you can! Subtract that number from what you’ve got in the bank to get your subtotal.

STEP 2: Choose your destination

spellbound travels ninh binh vietnam

The next step in creating a budget for backpacking is picking the right destination. If you’re new to travel and don’t have much money to travel with, South East Asia is your best bet! You can find heaps of backpacking itineraries on my blog that allow you travel for next to nothing! 

STEP 3: Calculate your future savings

Once you’ve picked a destination you need to sort out how much you can save by time you leave. That means having a general idea of when you’re leaving. 

If you work a typical 9-5 job this should be fairly simple to do but if you’re working a few different jobs or work that involves tips, keep your estimation on the lower side of things to be safe! 

STEP 4: Break down future costs 

This is when the real research starts! Prices will not only vary depending on the country but also on the specific place. For example, mainland Philippines will be much cheaper than islands.

Typically, I break down future costs into 5 categories. 

1. Transportation 

Transportation can range from flights to tuk tuk rides. You should already have a good idea of how much flights will cost to get to the destination but if you need to take flights between islands or countries, take a look at how much it may cost the time of year you’re planning to travel. My go-to is Google Flights because I like their calendar view and find it easy to get an accurate estimate of flight prices.

When it comes to most other modes of transportation I’ll look to Rome2Rio for my estimate. If I can’t find it there, I’ll look to other blogs and itineraries from people who have already been.

2. Accommodation 

If you like to travel somewhat spontaneously (like I do), you probably won’t book all of your accommodation ahead of time. That means you won’t have an exact number for your budget but you can always look at rough prices for hostels, Airbnb’s etc before you go.

3. Food & drinks 

Once again, prices will vary depending on where you go but once you start travelling more, you’ll have a good idea of how much you’ll be spending on food and drinks. To get better acquainted with the cost, I usually opt for an easy Google search and read through a few blogs to see what the general consensus is!

4. Activities 

The price of activities will be one of the most difficult aspects to budget for. You might not necessarily know what you’ll want to do when you get to a destination and how much it will cost (unless you’re paying ahead of time). If there are specific activities you want to do like bungy jumping in New Zealand or a safari through an animal sanctuary in Sri Lanka, you’ll be able to get a fairly accurate number. Otherwise, I’d suggest writing out a list and doing a rough estimate to see how much you should allot for activities.

5. Miscellaneous 

The last thing you’ll want to add to future expenses when you create a backpacking budget is miscellaneous and unforeseen costs. Some of these will be:

  • ATM fees
  • Currency exchange rate
  • Travel insurance – I use WorldNomads because you can get the insurance from outside your home country and it most countries are covered
  • Theft/lost items/missed flights etc – You never know what’s going to happen and even if you have travel insurance, some things won’t be covered. After a few bad experiences I try to keep $1000 CAD buffer in case something goes wrong!

STEP 5: Do the math 

spellbound travels diyaluma falls sri lanka

The last step you’ll need to take when you create a backpacking budget is doing all the math. I KNOW, it sucks. I hate math but this equation is simple, even for me!

To get the grand total:

STEP 1 + STEP 3 – STEP 4 = What you should have in the bank after your trip

Still not following? Download my FREE template below to get started on your very on budget!

spellbound travels how to create a backpacking budget pin

Before I go you can find more content over at my new YOUTUBE channel & Pinterest that’s linked in the image above!

If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram or leave a comment below.



6 thoughts on “How to Create a Backpacking Budget

  1. Definitely handy tips. However, with food, I shall not be able to cut my costs, because I cannot refrain from different cuisines. But, yes, I can take care of other expenses. Thank you, for great advice.

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