A few weeks ago, I posted a video about how I traveled from the Netherlands to Iran in 8 months on a budget of 5 euro a day. Today, I am going to tell you how you can do that as well. To travel long term on a super low budget is not as hard as it looks. Everyone can do it, as long as you are willing to put in a bit of creativity and think outside the box.
Five euro a day
First of all, the five euro a day is quite relative. Some days I spend nothing, others days I spend 10 or 15 euros. The 5 euros is an average. Also, this is the costs for traveling itself. It doesn’t include travel- and health insurance (which I very much recommend you to get, but that’s up to you), the travel gear you need to get up front (this can be all second hand and/or borrowed from friends or high-tech equipement) and visa costs. Now, the latter one depends on where you are going. If you are European, you are very lucky to be able to get to many countries without having to pay anything for a visa. Other nationalities can have more trouble, but basically everyone is allowed to at least a few countries without having to pay for a visa.
So, to actually travel long term on a budget you have to do two things:
How to travel on a low budget
The only thing you need to travel is to get from A to B. Moving somewhere, going places. You get it. There are several ways to get where you want to go completely free. Walking, biking or hitchhiking are three examples that require no – or hardly any – money.
Hitchhiking is how I travel. You only have to carry on some cardboard (or find some on the way) and a marker. Head to a good spot near the highway or a gas station and start asking for rides. The best website voor hitchhikers is definitely hitchwiki.org. It shows you maps with good hitching spots all over the world and information about hitchhiking per country.
I don’t have experiences myself with walking or biking around the world, but there are many people who do. Check out this article about 6 people who walked around the world. During my travels, I met a guy from the UK who was walking around the world for one year (and two more to go), and a girl in Armenia who was going to walk alone or with a horse to cross the country.
There are quite some people traveling by bike. For inspiration I would recommend to check out the following people:
- I met Will aka SuperCyclingMan in Georgia. He is biking around the world for five years (one to go – four more to come) in a superman suit.
- Erwin, whom I met at a travel gathering in Amsterdam, who goes on biking, rollerblading, canoeing and more crazy trips.
- Alastair Humphreys – one of my biggest inspirations, who biked around the world in four years.
I don’t know about you, but my feet are itching already by only writing about these people..!
How to survive on a low budget
For us humans to survive, we need water, food and a number of hours of sleep per day.
Water – I almost always drink water from the tap (unless poisonous) and carry a plastic bottle with me at all times for refills. In some national parks you can drink the water from the streams, and water coming from up the mountains is usually drinkable as well. Some people travel with a water filter, to be able to drink water for free everywhere.
Food – Getting food for free is the biggest challenge of all. It is possible though, especially in rich countries. In Australia, Western Europe and the USA supermarkets throw lots and lots of food away that is still perfectly eatable. They usually put it in the dumpster behind the supermarkets. Sometimes it is locked, sometimes it is open. If it is legal also depends from country to country. Gathering waste food is called ‘dumpster diving’.
Dumpster diving is not something only homeless people do and it also doesn’t mean you should just grab things out of any dumpster. On trashwiki people gather spots of getting good dumpster food. Especially in Norway, I got loads of food (chocolate candy, walnuts, fruits and vegetables in plastic package!) for free.
Getting food from food and vegetable markets is another and also possible is less rich countries. It is best to go to the markets near closing time, when many street vendors will leave their unsold food near the road. Veggies and fruit that are slightly damaged cannot be sold anymore and are free to take.
Sleep – The easiest way to sleep for free is to wildcamp. Bring your tent/hammock/bivibag and sleeping bag with you, and you can basically sleep everywhere you want. Make sure you are out of sight of the nearest road and not too close to civilisation. During my travels, I camped at lakes, mountains, in city parks, next to the highway, etcetera.
If you rather don’t travel with a tent or would like to meet people and have a shower and kitchen once in a while I would recommend using hospitality websites. The biggest one is couchsurfing. It is a hospitality exchange website for hosting, staying with and meeting up with travellers. I used it many times for the past five years and made some good friends through it.
Where do I spend money on?
If you travel like as described above, you hardly need to spend any money. However, I also think traveling should be fun and sometimes fun requires you to spend money. Like, when I am waiting two hours in the rain to get picked up, I really want to buy a chocolate to keep my mood up. Or, when I am couchsurfing and I want to get my host a present or pay for a drink. Or, when I am with friends and we want to get a bottle of wine to drink at the park. Or, when a day of skiing in Georgia costs 20 euro per person (which I think is impossible to find cheaper anywhere in the world!), I want to experience that.
Anyways, if I look at what I spend most money on it is food and experiences. I near to never pay for accommodation or for transport.
My top 10 travel resources for low budget traveling
I made a list for you, of the top 10 travel resources I used in the past year to travel on a super low budget. Download it for free below!
What recourses do you use, and which one in this list was most helpful for you?