Do you ever just picture yourself lying on a sun kissed beach, exploring different cultures, reliving history, climbing the highest peaks, or just floating around the world only to have the daydream ruined by the fact you don’t have much money to actually do it?
Many get put off the idea of packing their bags, quitting their life to roam and explore the world by the fear of not being able to afford it. I’m sure if I said you can do it in the future (When the world reopens to traveling again) no matter your financial situation you would just laugh at me.
Well here’s the thing, it can be done. No this isn’t one of those anybody can travel for free type posts; traveling is not free no matter what anybody says. However you can travel for very little, make it as cheap as you can. In this post I’ll show you the 6 common types of different budget travelers, so you can see how It’s possible to travel within your means in the future.
There is a perception traveling the world is expensive – Yeah, true, it can be very expensive if there is no restrictions. However there are many with financial restrictions but have such a burning desire for travel they make it work within their own financial boundaries.
If you’re in a situation where you want to travel in the future, especially with everything going on right now but have no idea how you can afford to travel long term, you’re gonna want to stick around.
How is it even possible?
Budget travel is not a case of one size fits all, every traveler is different, with different situations, interests and different goals. I have mine, they have theirs and you will have yours but there is one thing that’s common between all types of different budget travelers; we know we have to make sacrifices and know where we stand on the financial ladder.
We all know, there are certain limits to what we can or cannot do, we know or at least learn to stretch our finances, make them last, and get the most out it it without sacrificing our dreams.
Over the decade of traveling all over the world on the tightest budgets one of the most important factors in keeping it going was learning from others. No matter what you think you know, you can always learn more.
So, how can it be done?
More than the amount of money you have, your mentality, desire and willingness will be the most important factors and:
- By learning, keeping eyes, and ears open
- Researching well
- Listening to advice from more experienced travelers
- Having the desire and mental toughness to keep it going
- Being humble, minimization, stripping away what you don’t need
- Making the right sacrifices without compromising experience
- Using common sense, learning to get the most out the little you have
- Not paying attention to fake influences and their lifestyles (reality is not like that)
- Being mentally prepared for budget travel life
Your style will be your own
Of course as a budget traveler, your traveling style is going to be different of those who travel on short holidays and in luxury. You are not going to stay in 5 star hotels and resorts, you’re not gong to dine in Michelin star restaurants or even take those all expense paid trips. You are certainly not going to look or feel like you’re on a model shoot everyday. (sorry).
As a budget traveler or backpacker you will be on the ground level. You will be more often than not eating in lower end and local eateries, taking budget transport, taking the cheaper tours or even look to be creative on how to do certain excursions.
However, the way you travel, your style and the type of budget traveler you are or become over time is down to you, your personality, likes, needs, and desires.
6 common types of different budget travelers
Ok, let’s get into and and have a look at the 6 common types of different budget travelers and you might even recognise yourself as one or more of them. Remember there is nothing to say you have to be just one type.
- Set time frame short term budget travelers
- Mid-level flexi budget travelers
- Strict budget backpackers
- Frugal budget travelers
- Long term nomads/travelers/drifters
- Bare bones/broke budget travelers
The pretenders/ fake budget travelers
Let’s get these guys out of the way first. Unfortunately you will come across some fake budget travelers. it might be a so called influencer who portrays budget travel like luxury travel.
There are also those who have plenty of money but want to give budget travel ago just to say they ‘slummed it out’. You can always tell they’re not really budget travelers by the way they dress, act, behave, what they carry with them, and what they feel is a tight budget compared to real budget travelers. In most cases they can’t last more than a couple of days on a tight budget. There’s nothing wrong with them trying to travel on a budget – Just don’t pretend to be budget travelers when you’re not because you’re giving false information about what a tight budget is.
Set timeframe, short term budget travelers
Not everybody can just pack up their bags and leave indefinitely. There are those who take a period of time out their lives weather that’s a month or up to 6 months to travel. They know they can’t afford to travel lavishly and in most cases have other financial commitments I.E Bills mortgages, credit cards etc so they have to create a seperate travel budget.
The money that goes into that budget is all they allow themselves to use for the duration of their travels. Some people however create a rainy day fund or back up fund for emergencies or if something unexpected happens.
Short term travelers tend to have a tight grip over their travel fund and extensively plan beforehand so they don’t go over budget by:
- Doing thorough research into their destination
- Make a working plan, and stick to that plan
- Look into discount cards, using points, credit card rewards
- Potentially create itineraries, book activities/excursions/tours in advance
- Work out expenditure
- See how they can cut costs even more
- More likely to do group tours rather than independent travel due to time restrictions
- Have a fairly good idea of how much they will need to cover their trip
Mid-level flexi budget travelers
Are travelers who set themselves a budget just like short term travelers, but are most likely traveling for longer periods and allow themselves more flexibility in what they spend.
These types of budget travelers tend to know they will have urges and temptations to splurge out a little. They are not like the pretenders; they are genuinely on tight budgets but just don’t have the will power to match so they allow themselves some leeway to spend a little extra here and there.
It’s very common to see these types of budget travelers live on the breadline for most of the week, to keep their spending to a minimum so they can treat themselves one day of the week. It keeps them sane; it keeps their temptations and urges to over-indulge at bay.
It’s quite common for them to:
- Stay in budget accommodation most of the week then spend 1 or 2 nights in a comfy hotel
- To eat basic or cook for themselves most of the week then have one lavish meal in an expensive restaurant
- To not needlessly spend then to splurge out on whatever tempts them
- Try and do as much as they can independently then book a privatised tour or excursion
- To have days they just pamper themselves without thinking of cost
- They miss out on certain activities they don’t feel worthwhile so they can go big with something they feel is worthwhile. For example miss a tour so they can do an Island hop instead.
- To buy cheap alcohol most the week so one day/night they can pay for something more costly
- Cut back on spending one day so they can carry what they saved into the next and allow themselves s to spend more
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Strict budget travelers
The type of budget travelers that are not messing around. Unlike mid-flexi budget travelers these guys do not give themselves any leeway or flexibility. They are very strict with their funds and have the will power to say no when they need to.
These are the type of different budget travelers to meticulously plan every last detail beforehand. They know how their trip will go and turn out before they even start and will not allow anything to distract them or deter them from that iron clad plan. plans can go up in smoke for many different budget travelers but not for these guys.
Nothing is left to chance:
- Plan and work out how much they will spend
- Already know what everything they need will cost
- Will cut costs wherever they can
- Have an exact route planned out
- Know exactly where they will stay and how much they will spend on accommodation
- They know the transport they will take, the times they will take them and the cost
- They know exactly what excursions/sightseeing/tours/trips they will take
- Even how much time they will allow themselves at one given place
- They have the strictest, most stringent itineraries and will have pre-pad for most things beforehand
- They do not leave anything to chance
- Their planning and preparation covers A, B and C scenarios
- They have backup plans and plans for their plans if things go array
- No stone is left unturned with them
- Some even plan what time to be asleep by and wake up
I’ve personally come into contact with many strict stringent travelers over the past decade and 99% of the the time their travels follow the same pattern.
- They take travel too seriously
- They’re constantly on the move
- Stressed out all the time, angry, miserable and frustrated
- Don’t take the time to soak in of feel the enviroment or moments
- Think of themselves as experts after just spending 48 hours in one place
- Itineraries are too crammed and can’t be flexible
- End up burnt out because they went too hard in the first place
Frugal budget travelers
They are are not just different budget travelers they are a different breed of person!
Frugal budget travelers have the most will power, mentally they resist temptation to spend more and they hone a craft for getting the most value for their buck. A frugal traveler has the ability to go in search of and sniff out the best bargains. They can strip away all needless spending and be happy and content with spending as little as possible.
They are different budget travelers to strict travelers in that they travel in a more relaxed fashion, do not have strict plans but are just experts at keeping their costs to a minimum. Frugal travelers know when to spend money and when not too, they will not spend unless they need to and they are experts at finding things for free or next to nothing.
A frugal traveler will:
- Scrutinize every penny they spend
- Squeeze as much out of their buck as possible
- Resist temptation to spend needlessly
- Be very organised in where they will allow themselves to spend money
- Stretch their funds better than anybody
- Keep an iron fist around their expenditure
- Are the champion bargain hunters
- Are great at haggling
- Will not back down until they find the right price for them
- They are the ones that if sharing a meal and spent the least will only pay for what they ordered and not share the bill equally
- Will find ways to make excursions/trips/tours cheaper for them
- Only take organised tours after they have exerted every other option
- Will cook for themselves in bulk to last days rather than eating out
- Will not buy more drinks than they need to
- Look to cut costs like drinking tap water instead of buying bottled water
- Sometimes Camp out instead of paying for accommodation
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of frugal travelers, and I have to admit even as an experienced long term traveler I am left in awe at their incredible ability to find or get it cheaper. I have no shame in saying I am constantly learning from them to reduce my own expenditures.
Long term budget travelers/backpackers/nomads/drifters
There are those who just can’t live in normal society, they can’t be bound to what ‘normal life’ is perceived to be and long for escapism and to be free of the shackles. They yearn and crave to travel with no intention of ever returning home. There is no plan, no end goal other than to roam. These are the long term travelers, the nomads, drifters of the world.
But there is a problem, they just don’t have that much money to begin with. Even saving money doesn’t really help because they want to travel long term and no matter how much or little money is saved it only stretches for so long. So what do they do? They take everything they have and make it stretch for as long as possible.
They give themselves a date they want to leave and the process begins:
- They save whatever money they can up to the point of leaving, in some cases working 2 or 3 different jobs knowing there is a goal to aim for
- Sell everything they own and don’t need to take with them
- Pay off all bills and cut all subscriptions they don’t need
- Cut out all needless spending – eating out, drinking out, buying useless possessions
- With experience they learn the money they save is just for the initial period of travel
- Look and research ways they can replenish funds as they travel
- Do as much research as they can but do not plan anything – they’re long term travelers time is on their side
- With experience they learn the slower they take it the less they will spend
- Get better at money management with experience
- Learn to travel more like locals rather than tourists
- Largely stay away from tourist zones
- Learn from locals, eat, drink, in local eateries and bars
- They are not always the best at saving, keeping to budgets, overspend, get tempted too easily and have a ‘we only live once’ type attitude
- They learn quickly that money comes, money goes and returns again
- Can get creative when funds run dry
This is the type of traveler I am. Ever since I started my nomadic life I have run out of money plenty of times but have replenished and kept going. For us long term travelers traveling doesn’t revolve around the money we have, sure it helps but it is not the be all and end all. We know how to stop, replenish, and carry on when we need to. I’ll be honest though this type of traveling does not suit everybody. You do need to have a mental toughness and desire to keep it going even when the chips are down.
Bare bones/broke/no frills travelers
No money no problem when it comes to these types of travelers. They do not need anything other than the clothes on their backs and the will to continue.
They are very much in the mould of nomads and drifters but these guys can do it for less. FREE is their favourite word and will seek out and take advantage of anything going for free. In their own right they are as free spirited and free minded as they get. In some peoples minds they are free loaders but that is not their call to make.
You need to have a very special type of mentality to be a no frills, bare bones traveler as they will do anything to keep their traveling going.
- They are survivors
- Have trained themselves to not need anything materialistic
- Will look to nature to provide
- Will avoid spending wherever they can
- Have no qualms in foraging or looking to natural resources/food/drinks to eat and drink
- Will seek out anything given away for free and see the value in it
- They look to the earth to provide for them
- Will try and do everything themselves over anything organised for costly
- Will rather hitchhike or walk than pay for transport
- Will exchange work for a place to sleep
- Are more likely to camp out rather than pay for accommodation
- If they do pay for accommodation they will pay bare minimum
- The freedom they have is the most important thing to them
- Are more likely to make and sell their own trinkets/products than get an actual job
- Will set up camp and create mini communes where possible
It’s worth noting I’ve met some incredible people over the years who travel this way, they have inspired me to keep going and living life the way I want.
Don’t become a begpacker ever!
Finally there is a small group of people and I don’t like to tie them in the same brush as they can be any type of traveler but they give all us budget travelers a bad reputation and that is begpackers. They’re not begging to survive, they beg and take money off people worse off than them so they can continue their own travel lifestyle. If ever you start to become one – STOP AND FUCK OFF HOME!
In all my years of roaming the world I’ve never had to beg anybody to help me continue traveling and nor should you. Begpackers are not a true representation of backpackers, long term travelers, slow travelers or budget travelers.
Can you see yourself as one of these types of different budget travelers?
As you can see now, there is a range of different budget travelers roaming around the world, some for short trips and for others it’s their life. Can you see yourself as one of those different budget travelers? Which type would suit you and your needs the best?
Before you decide which different budget traveler you may be, remember you don’t have to always be one type, even though you’ll be able to see where you fit into, don’t pigeon hole and box yourself into just one group. You might turn out to be one type of budget traveler for one trip but have a looser budget for another. Have flexibility, and remember you do you.
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Christian Alcantara · May 7, 2020 at 7:54 am
I’m not even in the list! in the future I would love to be able to visit the different places in the world in see their beauty with my own eyes.
Frugal Travellers · May 2, 2020 at 2:40 pm
An excellent article! As you might guess from my name, we’re definitely in the frugal budget travellers category- why take a bus or taxi when you can walk the 4km to your hostel 🙂 After 2.5 years we’ve started incorporating elements of the Long term travel category as are now permanently on the road… and after enjoying our own Air BnB apartment for 6 weeks lockdown in Krakow, I’ve decided we need to slow down and get our own place for at least 1 month per year! That’ll definitely blow the budget but will save our sanity 🙂
Thanks for the great read – it’s reminded me of so many other backpackers we’ve met, and all the interesting ones we’ll meet when it’s deemed safe to travel again!
foreverroamingtheworld · May 2, 2020 at 3:08 pm
Thanks for the comment, the walking instead of taking a bus comment made me laugh because I recently (well late last year before this pandemic and lockdown) met a guy in Malaysia doing just that. He refused to take a bus or metro and just walked to places. He was actually on a mission to walk from Singapore, through Malaysia up to Thailand. Like I said in the post I tip my hat to you guys. For us long term travelers, staying a in one spot for a while is needed for our sanity. I wish you all the best on your journey.
Wood Fencing · April 24, 2020 at 7:37 am
Thanks for the tips. it help me a lot.
Its very useful for travel.
Medha · June 11, 2018 at 5:48 am
Haha, I can see that you’ve met and analyzed all kinds of ‘budget travelers’ from across the world and you’ve definitely managed to nail the categories and the descriptions of each kind! I would categorize myself as a Mid-level flexi budget traveler, I usually have a budget set for the trip that I want to stick to but I always have this little extra fund set out for small luxuries, maybe 1 night at a really amazing property out of the 10 that I am there for or a dining place or an experience 🙂 I read your description of the people in this category and could totally relate – very insightful!
Stephanie Rumore · June 6, 2018 at 4:00 am
This was such a well written piece, I can vividly remember people from each of these categories on my trips (from the woman who left our hostel after one night because someone came hope after 11pm to the guy I backpacked around Thailand with wearing ripped pants for a month because they were still ‘doing their job’).
It’s great to see so many people enjoying the world in their own ways. I’d say I’m a long-term Flexi traveller. I will spend majority of the time in a hostel, largest dorm room, but if I know I’m visiting a location for a few days I’d like to splurge in (e.g. Santorini/Florence) I’ll try and book a cute air bnb or a budget hotel. That being said, if it came down to it, I’d happily budget more tightly and have the opportunity to travel if it came down to it
a speck in time · May 2, 2018 at 4:50 am
you have nailed it, I could fully relate and smile to all you said here 🙂 I think, I am frugal kind and my husband is mid flexi+, now you can imagine the extra fun we have when we travel and we try to travel as much as possible. We don’t save for travels, we simply don’t like to buy and accumulate stuff, but prefer to spend on experiences.
Nofar Gluzman · April 21, 2018 at 6:57 pm
I would say I’m a mid level budget traveler. Always keep the budget in mind, but keep a little extra for the fun stuff 😉
eli · April 20, 2018 at 3:06 pm
I’m definitely the mid-level flexi budget traveler! I hate spending money on useless things then I’ll find myself splurging every couple of days on a night out or a nice meal
foreverroamingtheworld · April 20, 2018 at 4:12 pm
Isn’t it funny how you can go days without spending on needless things and then without even thinking you end up splurging out (it’s normally nights out for me)
Nicola · April 20, 2018 at 3:04 am
This article made me smile. Mainly because I’ve definitely met people who fit into all these categories and I’ve definitely fitted to a number of different categories. Having been travelling on and off for the past 10 years I think I have progressed from frugal to mid-level-flexi, only through determined saving when I’m not travelling. And I must say I’m glad my frugal days of travelling are over and now. I’m grateful that if I want to eat something other than pasta aI can.