It's always been a dream of mine to travel the world with a backpack, good knees and endless resources. And by resources I mean money! In the end I did travel with the backpack, with soso knees and not so endless resources. All that to say, it can be done!
But it has to be done smartly.
Here are a few things to consider or think about if you are tired of being broke in your home country and want to be broke in another.
1. Plan, plan and then plan again - Cheap traveling can be done by the seat of your pants but you will spend unnecessarily on things you didn't know about because ta da, lack of research. Planning weeks to months ahead can save you dollars on lodging, transportation and possible tours.
For example if you do your research you will find out that Uber can't be used at the local airport in Merida, Mexico. You essentially have to either walk to the main road or use the local cab service that is stationed outside. There is a significant difference in price! Figure out which one you want to do and budget for it.
2. Travel during off season/peak times - This doesn't mean you can't travel during your summer break or vacation time but it may mean that the country you are considering may be either the opposite season, really freaking hot or the raining constantly, which is why it's the off season. Don't let that put you off, just plan to sweat, freeze or be wet!
3. Be open to going somewhere you've never considered - Some of my best trips are the ones that popped up on my radar as deals of the day. Now be mindful of not buying a ticket to a city/country that is expensive! I learned this lesson when I purchased cheap ticket to China before doing my research on how much a Visa would cost. So although the round trip flight was only $300 the Visa was an additional $500 USD.
That was a pricey lesson learned. On the flip side of this the $99 flight to Iceland was amazing! But I knew going in it was going to be an expensive trip because Iceland and I planned accordingly.
4. Eat and shop local - Street food can be questionable but it's also generally cheaper! Just be smart and if your inner belly says no walk on to the next food stall. This applies to buying trinkets and vacation souvenirs, if the price is too much, walk on by! But please don't quibble over a difference of a dollar or two, it's not worth it and you come across as really really cheap, not broke but cheap.
5. Don't be scared of hostels - I've stayed in some great hostels on my travels and would do so in the future in a heartbeat! Do your research, read all the rules because all hostels are not for all travelers. Some are women only, men only, age restrictions and of course family friendly. I recommend HostelWorld due to the combination of so many hostels listed, reviews and payment plans.
6. Speaking of tours - This is where research really comes into play and where you can hopefully find the free tours or free local events. When I'm going to a place I always try to find a calendar of events that may be happening during the time I will be there. It's led to great experiences and the seeing of things I possibly wouldn't have.
7. Pack light - This is the easiest and cheapest way to cut costs while traveling because those baggage fees add up! Plus extra baggage leads to extra stress when traveling, slows down the exiting process when leaving the airport and the need for possibly extra space wherever you are lodging. Leave the big suitcases at home and invest in a good carry on piece of luggage and a good sturdy back pack.
8. Buy a local sim card - Cell service outside of the U.S is notoriously cheaper, don't pay the extra fees required by U.S. carriers for subpar slow service instead spend $10 and switch sims while traveling. To do this ensure that your phone provider and phone allow for this.