Last year I traveled around the world on just $2000. I hitchiked, Village hopped, couchsurfed through more then 20 countries. It took me 12 months and by the end of the year I arrived near where I started.
Before I explain how I did it, let me first thank those who helped me during the year. So to everyone who gave me ideas, rides, housing, food, entertainment, friendship and so much more. If you are reading this, thank you.
I spent 1 year traveling, visited 21 countries, and I did it on less than the average wage that the median American earns in one month (before taxes). How much exactly did I spend? I will never know, but let me give you the blurry details.
I finished my last contract in February 2012 and because of all the stories I had heard from couch surfers, I decided to travel the world. Because of their advice I knew how to save and I knew hitchhiking was safe. (If you want to read about my awesome couchsurfers Click Here ) I was already in Phnom Penh Cambodia so the next natural stop was Bangkok.
In Bangkok I bought the first of my necessities, a backpack. I think for most people, you should expect to pay around $150 for your backpack. I mean a real heavy duty backpack, one that works for all climates and will hold up after at least a year of abuse. Make sure you have clothes to put in the backpack and to travel with later, if you need more clothes you can get them at thrift/second hand stores along the way. That is if people just don’t outright give cloths to you. They did to me.
Backpack $150. Check, where next.
Food in Thailand is cheap, and here is another one of my great strategies. By traveling in lesser developed countries, which I did most of the time, food was always cheap. In Thailand a good meal at a restraint would be $1. While that was good in a culture where everyone eats out, it doesn’t always work like that. To really survive cheaply it is important to find what foods are cheap in each country that you are in. You can do that best by visiting and asking people “what foods are cheap here” ( I am not patronizing you, people just don’t seem to get that this is an option). In Turkey a HUGE watermelon, one of the biggest I’ve ever seen, and defiantly the biggest I’ve carried up a steep hill cost me only 2$. In Armenia, organic goat cheese was 50 cents to the pound. In Transnistria big, thick, juicy, violate grapes and endless pears were rotting off the trees, so of course everyone gave me as many as I could fit into my belly. In Europe, bell peppers, were only 1$ for a pack of three (all different colors too) – in Europe I had lots of stir fried peppers and rice. In Georgia (the country) I could stuff myself with delicious cheese bread for a dollar and a half. In India all food is cheap, delicious, oily, spicy but cheap cheap cheap. In Bulgaria, HUGE slices of pizza are only 60 cents, and they are good! My monthly food budget was $100. I almost never went over this, and sometimes stayed way under.
So let’s say last year I spent $1000 on food.
Inexpensive food saved me a lot of money. Yes my diet changed in every country. When I could I ate the local fruit when it was in season, as the fruit was always super cheap (or free) then. But I had another huge bonus to my food cost. People kept giving me food. When they saw me on the street, when they picked me up hitchhiking, when I slept in their homes or visited their buildings, they kept feeding me. I loved it and it did save me a bit of money.
I started hitchhiking around Thailand, exploring the area and then I went to India and did the same. In India, My brother and I traveled through India, to small villages, to big cities, through sand storms and jungles. It was easy to get a ride, but the weather was a killer, it hovered around 45C, 115F for most of the days we were hitchhiking. Lucky after hitchhiking through India in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record it could only get cooler. From Armenia to France I hitchhiked, for 5 months, zigzagging and crossing an entire continent. Hitchhiking was indescribably easy (sometimes the first car on a busy road stopped for me) this saved me money, lots of it. Oh and for you paranoid people, I never had a single bad person pick me up while hitchhiking, or doing anything else in my trip. My only trouble was with the police in Pennsylvania, USA who refused to accept that Hitchhiking was legal and then drove me to the next county so I could hitch a ride there.