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The Basics of Long-Term Budget Travel

What Is Budget Travel?

Budget travel is like a strange hybrid between normal, everyday living and taking an extended vacation. The purpose of budget travel is to curb daily costs as much as possible in order to stretch the travel duration to several weeks or even many months. Latin America and Southeast Asia are the most common regions for budget travel, because the day-to-day cost of living is so low that people can explore for 2-3 months for as little as $1000. This form of travel is especially popular among recent high school and college graduates as well as professionals who do remote work online, often known as “digital nomads.”

Budget Travel vs. Traditional Vacationing

Standard package vacations and budget travel adventures represent two separate ends of the travel spectrum. The differences between the two are so great that people usually fall into one camp or the other. Someone who loves all-inclusive Caribbean vacations would most likely hate the life of a budget traveler. The opposite is also true. What exactly are the differences?

The most noticeable difference is in accommodation types. Standard vacations typically involve a plush hotel, resort, or cruise ship cabin, with swimming pools and room service and exotic frozen drinks. The budget traveler makes a great sacrifice here, opting instead for cheaper options such as hostels, guesthouses and beach-side bungalows. While package vacations offer hotel rooms from a hundred dollars upward per night, a dorm bed in a Thai hostel can go for as low as five dollars. This difference is huge, and allows budget travelers to travel for much longer for a fraction of the cost.

Other small differences are numerous. Budget travelers typically carry everything in large, high-capacity backpacks to allow them to move from city to city in a practical manner. Package vacationers, since they are usually in one hotel for their entire stay, tend to pack everything in one or more suitcases. Dining is also quite different for a budget traveler, who seeks cheap, local cuisine or street food over the tourist restaurants found near resort areas.

Going Long Term: The Costs of Budget Travel

The costs of a long-term budget excursion varies widely depending on the region. Southeast Asia and Latin America are on the low-end of the scale, and daily costs can be as low as $10-20. Japan, Australia, New Zealand, North America and Western Europe are at the very top of the scale, with daily costs ranging anywhere from $50-100. West Asia, China and Eastern Europe fall somewhere in the middle.

Passports, visas and travel vaccinations should also be taken into account. A United States passport can be obtained for less than $100 and tourist visas, depending on the country, can range from $20-100. There are also many countries that grant tourists a free visa upon arrival at the airport. Recommended vaccines vary wildly depending on the region, with some costing over $500. Tropical and developing countries carry higher risks for infectious diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis.

A New Outlook On Life

Traveling long-term on the cheap is almost always a very rewarding experience. Since budget travelers are away from the big resorts, they experience more of the local culture and in the process learn much more about the world. The budget travel community is huge, and many lasting friendships have been made by people from different countries meeting each other along the way. A six-month trip abroad is something that will leave a lasting impression, with countless memories and a fresh outlook on life.


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