Budget travel is associated with a lot of things. Hostels, street food, and promo-rated tickets are some. Unfortunately, discomfort and inconvenience can also come to mind.
Sure, you can’t exactly stay at The Four Seasons or The Ritz or dine at a Michelin-star restaurant on a shoestring budget. However, the notion that budget travelers should forget all about comfort altogether is also a misconception.
No, you can actually set yourself up for a relatively comfortable trip on a budget. It simply takes just a little bit of preparation, namely packing the following items into your luggage:
- Luggage Scale.
There’s no benefit to overstuffing your bag. Firstly, going over the luggage weight limit incurs pricey excess baggage fees. (Come on, wouldn’t you rather send money to a relative in need rather than spring for excess baggage?) Secondly, having to throw out stuff isn’t really cost-efficient either. (What about all those pasalubongs??? NOOOO!!!!!)
A handy luggage scale can help prevent all that, and will also clue you in on how much space you still have for the following items.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
Public transport abroad is pretty efficient, but frequently taking trains or cabs can add up. Walking, therefore, is every budget traveler’s best friend. Why hail a taxi if the museum is just a few blocks away from your hostel? You’ll not only save money, you’ll also stay in shape. Total win-win.
Of course, this is where a pair of comfortable shoes would come in. Well-made sneakers, flats, or perhaps some all-weather boots are all good examples. Bonus points too, if they happen to match every outfit you pack.
- A well-stocked first-aid kit.
Getting sick sucks. Getting sick while traveling and on your own sucks even more. Unfortunately, it can be unavoidable. I mean, what if you got caught in the rain while trekking? You’re bound to catch a cold afterwards.
The last thing you want to do when you’re not feeling well is going around a foreign city looking for your meds. So, do stock your first-aid kit before you fly out. Antihistamines, painkillers, and fever medications, along with any personal prescriptions, should be on your checklist.
Speaking of getting caught in the rain, an umbrella is absolutely indispensable, both at home and abroad. Clearly, it can shade you from harsh sunlight and keep you dry in the event of a sudden downpour.
Furthermore, an umbrella can help you stick to reasonable decisions when the weather changes. For instance, you don’t have to take a pricey cab back if it rains on the way. Ditto for having to duck into a café to wait out a drizzle.
- Dry shampoo.
I have yet to hear of any budget hacks for scoring a first-class flight. (So, if you have any, share them in the comments section, please!) Thus, those of us flying economy aren’t likely to have access to a shower during a long-haul flight. Tough.
So, if your locks are in need of freshening up, dry shampoo is your friend. This baby absorbs excess oil between washes and is TSA-friendly to boot.
- Sunblock stick.
With the ozone layer being what it is(n’t), going out without sunscreen during the day is suicide for your skin. If you haven’t got luggage allowance, a sunblock stick ought to do the trick. It’s certainly portable and lightweight, and its solid form is in accordance with TSA rules.
- Duct tape.
This is a no-brainer. Duct tape is practically a cure-all. With it, you can temporarily patch up broken luggage, cover foot blisters, repair tent holes, remove lint, and bring about world peace.
Okay, maybe not that last one, unless we’re talking about abducting some pretty crappy world leaders, binding their hands and feet with duct tape, and tossing them into the ocean.
- Packing cubes.
All budget travelers have to master the art of packing light, and packing cubes can help speed up the process. These not only give you easy access to your clothes, but they can also keep the clean and dirty ones separate.
- A travel towel.
Rare is the hostel that provides its guests with bath towels. Even then, do you really want to use something that might have touched several other bodies prior? Didn’t think so.
Travel towels are a godsend because they’re light, easy to pack, and dry quickly. When you’ve got one in your backpack, you won’t have to worry about swiping your roommates’ towel when you need a shower.
- A shawl or scarf.
Apart from keeping you warm when the temperature drops, a shawl or scarf can also serve as a makeshift blanket. Keep that in mind when you get to your hostel and aren’t too keen about the state of your beddings.
Also, you might encounter some places that require visitors to keep their heads and/or shoulders covered. Again, that’ll be no problem if you’ve got a shawl or scarf with you.
Lastly, do consider the quality of your luggage too. Backpacks are especially excellent for budget travelers since they’re easier to lug around than a suitcase. Check out sturdy ones made out of waterproof or water-resistant material. Those with extra pockets or compartments are also ideal.