Keep your backpack budget down with these tips

When backpacking at an exotic destination the local currency is often quite small. Which makes it easy to overspend, because individual purchases don’t look to expensive. Until you add up all those little purchases at the end of the day and realise you’ve gone over budget. With the easy tips below, you can keep your budget under control without sacrificing any backpack fun!

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 1 – Give yourself a budget per day

It’s a good idea to do some research before you leave to get an . I love Myfunckytravel, and used this to calculate my daily budget Indonesia.  I noticed that this is in line with what I spend myself too.

Another tip here is to know yourself! You are the one that’s 100% in control of your daily budget Indonesia. Do you like that little touch of extra comfort? Or do you like to take a yoga class or two, three, fourteen,… like I do? Maybe you are an adrenaline seeker and want to do some paragliding or bungee jumping? Surfing and diving are also very popular in Asia. Take stuff like this in to account.

It won’t help you to set a daily budget you have no chance of sticking to. So be realistic and honest with yourself here!

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 2 – Eat like the locals do

Very (a bit to) local budget friendly street food

I love Asian cuisine, and I hope you do to if you’re planning on backpacking there! So enjoy the local food as much as possible. You’ll miss a good Thai red curry, an Indian Dhal Fry or an Indonesian Gado Gado when you’re back home.

Budget wise… Avoid western (or western-looking) chains, you’ll pay a lot more than elsewhere. Without the quality being necessarily better. The opposite is more often true. So enjoy street food and local eateries or Waroengs.

Go for local dishes, a pizza or hamburger is often twice as expensive as a noodle or gado gado.

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 3 – No alcohol

Healthy and budget friendly mango juice in Canggu

Alcohol is expensive in most Asian countries, including Indonesia, compared to the price of other drinks. Not so much compared to what alcohol costs in Belgium. So it seems cheap and tempting, but drinking alcohol in Indonesia can have a huge impact on your budget. A beer (35KIDR) costs 3 times as much as a fruit juice (9-12K IDR), and almost 6 times as much as a bottle of water (6K IDR)

In Indonesia I ordered a lemon juice, pinapple juice, mango juice,  … to accompany my meals. Healthy, tasty and way better for your budget than alcohol.

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 4 – Walk

What do Jakarta, Yogyakatra, Ubud and Kuta (Bali) have in common? Just like in any other touristy city, you can not walk 2 feet without the taxi and scooter drivers shouting  “Taxi”, “Transport”, “Scooter”, … As if they could create the need for motorized transport by just jelling it at you… This drove me absolutely mad! You’ll never know peace and quiet while walking through cities like these in Indonesia.

Walking to Hostel in Malang

Not only very annoying if you ask me, but taking them up on their offer also means a bite out of your budget. So let them shout, while you keep walking. This is also an easy way to stay fit while backpacking, read more about this in my tips for staying fit while backpacking post !

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 5 – Hostel are not an option, they are a must

This one is so obvious, sleep in hostels and not in hotels. Nice and cheap and the best place to meet other backpackers.

In Indonesia I spent between 50K IDR and 140K IDR per night – and you get to know the most amazing people from all over the world. Need I say more ??

The cheapest stay was in Ubud.  I stayed at a Anggrek Mas located at about 15 min away from the center.  For less than €4, you book a 6 bed dorm room with banana pancake (what else??) breakfast. The hostel has a nice pool outside, although I didn’t use it once. Just because there are so many other places to explore and things to see.

The only downside of this hostel is not the most popular place, due to its location. Which made it hard to meet new people. So when I visit again I’ll probably choose another place. If you are also looking for a place to stay in Ubud, or Bali in general have a look at Sonal’s and Sandro’s article on where to stay in Bali for every budget.

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 6 – Not up in the air but over land

If you want to backpack through a whole country or even several countries in a limited amount of time, flying often seems to be the best option. Although it often seems to be the fastest way of transport, remember that you have have to be at the airport a few hours in advance and it takes time to leave an airport too. So don’t only take your air time in to account!

Train ride from Yogyakarta to Malang

Go for the budget way and travel over land, for example by train. Look for affordable train tickets on You’ll love traveling by train. Not only is this a relatively quick way to travel, you can also enjoy the beautiful views. Taking the bus can also be a good option, although it’s often a bit less comfortable.

You can go fully budget by taking night trains and buses, this way you don’t have to spend any money on a hostel for that night. You might not feel 100% well rested the next morning, but who needs a good night’s sleep anyway?

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 7 – Bike

Bike ride in Malang

My selfie skills need some work, I know…

Renting a bicycle at your hostel will be better for your budget than renting a scooter. Not to mention what renting a taxi or tuk tuk for a day will cost you!

Once I even got lucky  and I could use a bike from my hostel for free for a day. So ask your hostel if they have a bike that you can borrow. And enjoy a fit and budget friendly day of sightseeing by bike!

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 8 – Local public transport

Avoid organized tourist transportation when possible. Sometimes there are no alternatives and you have no choice. But this should be the exception and not the rule.

For example, you can take the ‘fast boat’ from Lombok to Bali for about 350K IDR or a ferry for 50K IDR. Any ‘Tourist information agancy’ will advise against taking the slow boat, which requires 5 hours for the crossing. The fast boat only takes 2 hours they say. They forget to mention that you have to be in the harbor 2 hours in advance, and the bus ride from the harbor on Lombok is an hour longer then when you arrive at the ferry harbor. So yes it takes 2 hours by fast boat, but you have to add the 3 extra hours of travel time. So I suggest you take the ferry, I would take it again without a doubt!

Backpacking Indonesia Budget Tip 9 – Refillable bottle

I bought a plastic refillable bottle before I left for India. Unfortunately, I had lost the bottle before I walked out of the airport. Only the cap was still hanging on my backpack, the bottle lost in transit… In retrospect, maybe I should have gone for a slightly less budget model. Afterwards I never bought a new one, not very eco-friendly of me but also not budget friendly.

Backpacker gift - stainless steel water bottleA small estimate: in Indonesia I drank about 2l per day, that is 42l in 3 weeks, or about 70 bottles of 600ml, good for € 26. And anything but good for the environment. For the next trip I’m getting a stainless steel bottle! I have already put this one on my wish list. For every bottle sold they plant 10 trees!! (And no, I am not getting a commission if you should decided to get one too)


You can make your backpacking adventure as expensive or inexpensive as you want. My philosophy is: the lower your daily budget, the longer you can travel. With the above tips you can keep your backpack budget under control. You don’t have to apply all of these tips all of the time. I like the occasional cocktail too, or take a flight when I don’t have the time to take a 8 hour during train ride. Just find the perfect balance for you between butget and your needs at the moment.

How do you keep your budget under control? Let me know in the comments!

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Corporate Marketing Manager turned Personal Yoga Coach | After over 750 hours of intensive yoga and coaching courses, Lara now helps female professionals to replace stress and its negative impact on your body, with balance, energy, and well-being.

3 Responses to “Keep your backpack budget down with these tips

  • I do consider all of the ideas you have offered to your post.

    They are very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for novices.
    May you please lengthen them a bit from next time?
    Thank you for the post.

    • Hello! Thank you for your feedback! I truely hope the tips will do you some good on your next trip 🙂
      What exactly do you mean by lengtening them the next time? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do in the future.

  • Terrific work! This is the kind of info that should be shared across the web. Shame on the seek engines for not positioning this post upper! Come on over and visit my website . Thanks =)

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