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Every traveller has a different budget.

One person's budget for a fortnight in Egypt might well run to a couple of thousand dollars, for others it would be a few hundred.

Travel Further For Less

Generally, budget travel is considered 'on a shoestring'.

Lonely Planet almost made the name their own with their original travel guide to Southeast Asia; for travellers on a tight budget. I even used the yellow book myself in the eighties.

Now LP have travel guides to just about everywhere, and have included mid-range and top end hotels in their places to stay; to cast the net wider.

If you're travelling on the cheap, there's nothing to stop you entering the five star hotels. Some of them have good value, all you can eat buffets; at a price travellers can afford - occasionally.

If you're starting out on a lengthy three to six month RTW journey, you will indeed need to budget for three to seven thousand dollars.

Your budget will vary depending on where (and when) you travel.

Europe is not as cheap anymore, and the gendarmes aren't so tolerant of back-packers sleeping on the beach in the south of France.

When the Summer is over you wouldn't want to anyway, but it's still a good time to travel in Europe. The queues for museums have gone, you'll have less tourists in your photographs, and you will get to meet the locals; in the high season they're all on holiday too.

And guess what? The accommodation prices are cheaper out of season as well; almost half the price in some heavily touristed areas.

Amsterdam, Budapest, Krakow, Ljubliana, Prague and Warsaw are all great budget destinations in September and October. Paris also comes back to life after the summer - as Parisians desert the French capital in August; and that's not a lot of fun if you like to sit at a brasserie table and watch the world go by.

On the Modern Ho Chi Minh Trail
Paddy Fields in Vietnam.

Good value travel can still be had in Asia, South America, and parts of Africa.

In West Africa, for example, the Francophone countries are more expensive than the former English colonies, with Abidjan and Dakar the two most expensive cities.

Ghana is a treasure.

The most expensive part of the trip is usually the flight ticket.

In this article, we are talking about the budget travel after the the ticket is bought. Getting a good price on airline tickets is quite an art in itself.

You can even make reservations online.

Your budget for travelling, once the ticket is bought, will of course depend on your comfort requirements in both accommodation and transportation.

Dormitory beds, or a room with your own shower; hard seats on 36-hour Chinese trains, or a sleeper in a closed compartment. These are the extremes and there is always somewhere in between.

I have stayed in some very nice hotels in South America for $5, and some dives in the United States for ten times that.

There are old colonial mansions in West Africa that you never want to leave and water palaces, surrounded by rice paddies, in Indonesia that offer an outdoor swim before breakfast.

Once travellers tell Lonely Planet about these places, they loose their atmosphere. So I'm not going to tell you where they are either.

There are always gems on the route less travelled, and that is the beauty of travelling without knowing where you'll be staying.

That's budget travel to me.

You have a wad of money when you start out, and you really don't know how far you'll get with it. If you want to know how much it's all going to cost and where you'll stay, then book through a travel agent.

Before you get your head down for the night you'll have to get there. Some people do hitch-hike in Asia and South America, but transportation is reasonably cheap and frequent.

The greatest luxury is time, budgeting your time is also a part of independent travel. Again if you don't have enough of it, you'll be forced to take the tours.

In countries like India and China you will need to book the long-distance trains at least a day in advance, sometimes three days or more.

Many a traveller has come unstuck by looking around Beijing for three or five days, and then being forced to stay another three or five because they can't get a ticket out.

On the popular routes, you sometimes need to book your tickets out, before you settle in. Unwanted tickets are easier to sell than trying to buy one for a train that leaves in half an hour.

In West Africa you simply turn up at the autogare and wait for the Peugeot to fill up - early mornings are always best. While other countries have bus stations with many companies competing to get you on theirs 'that is leaving right away'.

So whatever your budget, there's always something for you - you pay the money, you take the choice.

Don't forget that some countries require you to pay for a visa, and when your budgeted time is out you may well have to pay a departure tax.

By Michel.

Related Links
The place to go for budget accommodation. Search the database for a list of hostels before you travel and book online to save disappointment later.

Budget Travel:
Once owned by our friend Frank Fulton, the domain now belongs to Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine.

An excellent resource for independent travel in Europe. Advice on trip preparation, Euro-railing, back-packing, destinations and accommodation.

Using my thumb to beg for lifts around Europe and Australia is how I travelled further for less in my youth. No sooner did I get home from one adventure than I was planning and saving for the next.

Price of Travel:
Compiles costs of the main travel expenses for over 120 cities around the world.

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