Author Topic: Budget Backpacking Ideas?  (Read 4856 times)

amyable

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« on: June 13, 2015, 07:34:32 AM »
Next summer, my husband and I want to take 3 week long backpacking trip somewhere outside of the US.  We're looking for some ideas, and since the MMM community tends to be quite well-traveled, I thought I'd ask here! 

Here's some more info to narrow it down:

- we're 31 years old
- we really haven't traveled outside of the US, but we're both pretty adventurous
- we have a ton of miles from our Chase Sapphire card
- I'm a nearly fluent Spanish speaker and my husband understands Spanish and speaks a little (but we'd be open to countries where Spanish and English aren't widely spoken)
- we'll be going in June/July, but we are from Texas, so we're O.K. with heat
- I don't want to go somewhere incredibly dangerous
- we love the outdoors (kayaking and hiking especially)
- we don't want to have to rent a car / drive

I know this is a very broad question, but I'm really just looking for some general help brainstorming / stories about awesome trips you have taken!




mickeyj

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2015, 07:41:42 AM »
To be honest, anywhere in Asia is good. China and Myanmar would be worth considering if you are interest in hikes.

amyable

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 295
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2015, 07:57:33 AM »
To be honest, anywhere in Asia is good. China and Myanmar would be worth considering if you are interest in hikes.

Myanmar kind of scares me, but I would love to go.  I think it scares me because I used to teach ESL, and I had a lot of Karen / Burman refugees from Myanmar in my class, and they would tell me horror stories about things that happened to them in Myanmar.  Have you been?  How did the political situation there impact your trip?

G-dog

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13356
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2015, 08:05:24 AM »
Arebelspy is going to do this soon with spouse, and I believe did a shorter trip previously. He has a summary thread that links out to other threads (in journals I think).
Have you tried searching this site? I know I have seen some websites cited in his and other posts, but I don't remember the site names.

mickeyj

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2015, 08:53:51 AM »
To be honest, anywhere in Asia is good. China and Myanmar would be worth considering if you are interest in hikes.

Myanmar kind of scares me, but I would love to go.  I think it scares me because I used to teach ESL, and I had a lot of Karen / Burman refugees from Myanmar in my class, and they would tell me horror stories about things that happened to them in Myanmar.  Have you been?  How did the political situation there impact your trip?

You know what, my guess is that the stories that the refugees tell you are probably true.

However, you're not going to be seeing that because Myanmar only opened up a portion of its country to tourists and it's pretty safe if you are travelling around those areas. I've done a 3-week backpacking trip in Myanmar during my sabbatical and most of the places opened up for tourists in Myanmar and it's quite safe.

If you love trekking, you can do a 3D2N guided trek from Kalaw to Inle where you would cross mountains overlooking tea plantations and stay in homes of locals who used to be gun waving farmers growing and sell opium and cannabis until the government offered them loads of cash to stop doing that and allow the government to govern them. Absolutely fun!

Everything there is mostly in USD so it's not the cheapest place to go in Asia, but considerably affordable for backpacking.

2ndTimer

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4616
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2015, 09:13:53 AM »
The place I most regret not hiking when I was robust enough is Machu Pichu.  You may feel that Peru is too dangerous though

surfhb

  • Guest
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2015, 09:15:43 AM »
The jungles of Southern Costa Rica are pretty damn cool.

kpd905

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1705
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2015, 09:16:26 AM »
Find somewhere to fly to in Europe on IcelandAir.  They offer a free one week stopover in Iceland.  So maybe go to Scotland and Hike the Isle of Skye, then use your week in Iceland to hike the Laugavegurinn trail.

Otherwise get some airline miles stockpiled soon and do three weeks in New Zealand on the Milford and Routeburn tracks.

EnergyConsultant

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2015, 09:34:50 AM »
You can go in many places in the Alps, where they have many huts high up in the mountains, which are only reachable by hiking for several hours, but are fairly well equipped and inexpensive. You can get a hot meal, a bed (although you would need to share the room with other backpackers), and spectacular views. The tour of the Mont Blanc is a classic one (~10 days), but there are many other options -- there are huts everywhere.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7357
  • Senior Mustachian
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2015, 09:45:02 AM »
Since you haven't traveled outside the US much, you might not be aware of the huge difference that exists between countries. Travel in the US or Europe or Canada is hugely different than South America or most of Asia. You can't drink the water, in many places you will probably get sick even from eating cooked food, poverty can be pretty extreme, etc. I'm not saying to not go to those places, but that you should be prepared for it. A lot of the really inexpensive places are also the less developed places.

For your first big trip, I would not go to somewhere unstable like Myanmar. There are so many other very good choices, even in less developed countries. Until recently, Coke operated in every single country in the world except Cuba, North Korea, and Myanmar. This just gives you a sense of the difference there.

wardkf

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2015, 10:18:36 AM »
I'll second 2ndTimer.  The Inca Trail is on my short list; you'd get to put your Spanish to good use.

mickeyj

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 101
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2015, 10:53:46 AM »
Since you haven't traveled outside the US much, you might not be aware of the huge difference that exists between countries. Travel in the US or Europe or Canada is hugely different than South America or most of Asia. You can't drink the water, in many places you will probably get sick even from eating cooked food, poverty can be pretty extreme, etc. I'm not saying to not go to those places, but that you should be prepared for it. A lot of the really inexpensive places are also the less developed places.

For your first big trip, I would not go to somewhere unstable like Myanmar. There are so many other very good choices, even in less developed countries. Until recently, Coke operated in every single country in the world except Cuba, North Korea, and Myanmar. This just gives you a sense of the difference there.

That's true. If it's your first big trip and you want somewhere more less risky, then maybe you shouldn't pick Myanmar for this trip.

mtnrider

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 282
  • Location: Frozen tundra in the Northeast
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2015, 11:13:07 AM »
Have you considered hiking or riding the Camino de Santiago?

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7357
  • Senior Mustachian
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2015, 11:45:40 AM »
I'll second 2ndTimer.  The Inca Trail is on my short list; you'd get to put your Spanish to good use.

I've been to Peru but didn't to the Inca Trail. I think Peru has some nice spots. In the context of my earlier post, it's a mix of experiences. The Andes are just beautiful. The little town of Ollantaytambo is amazing (where you take the train to Machu Pichu if you don't do the Inca Trail). Certain areas of Lima are pretty modern. Others are more slummy. Some of the more rural areas are very impoverished. I would avoid the desert areas (not very picturesque or enjoyable for me). You can't drink the water, and a lot of the food is also contaminated. You will probably get sick from eating the food even if you are very careful. There's not too much variety in the food there. Cruz del Sur is a "luxury" bus line (meaning no locals on it) but is still very cheap and is a good way to get from city to city. Peru is very cheap, but you'll need to have exact change in soles for anything you do. Almost no one except the larger supermarkets has any change available, even $1 worth. And only the larger stores and hostels take credit cards. You can exchange US cash (brand new crisp $20s are ideal) for soles at good rates (less than 1% different than the market rates) and no fees in exchange shops run by locals. ATMs are available as well.

SilveradoBojangles

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2015, 12:44:01 PM »
So many options!

So, given your spanish skills and interest in the outdoors, my first thought was somewhere in Central or South America. Here are my reviews of places I've been:

Peru would be a good bet - lots to see (surf/beach stuff on the coast, go up to the andes and check out machu picchu and other Incan ruins, then spend some time in the Peruvian Amazon) all in the same country. It's very travel friendly. If you do Peru check out Choquequirao - an incan city that is similar in size to Machu Picchu but requires a 2 day hike in and out, so it sees far less visitors. While Machu Picchu was a zoo, we had Choquequirao entirely to ourselves, and we saw a Puma and a condor there.

Most people will tell you to go to Costa Rica, and it is pretty, again with beaches and mountain rainforests, a good diversity of stuff. We spent a month volunteering in their national parks, and they are very pretty. It is also extremely touristy and expensive relative to other latin american countries. We did not make it to the Caribbean coast, but I've heard that side is less touristy. I also found it the most boring of all the latin american countries I went to in terms of food and culture, and it was the only one we've been robbed in. So Costa Rica gets a thumbs down in my book, it was fine but other places were better.

My absolute favorite place was Colombia. Don't believe it's rep, it is very safe for travelers provided you don't do something stupid like try and hike into FARC territory. It was so cool, and the people were so friendly. They don't get a ton of international tourism, so people are less likely to try and scam you or treat you like an ATM. We had situations where we left a tip and had waiters chase us out of the restaurant to give us the money we forgot. But there is a lot of internal tourism, so it is easy to travel around, and there are plenty of accommodation options. We spent 2 months there in 2008, and it was so great. The city of Medellin is really cool, perfect weather year round, sophisticated public transport, great museums and plazas and parks and night life. We loved Cartagena, a tropical colonial city on the coast. Near there is Parque Tirona, one of the most gorgeous national parks in the world, with jungle hikes leading to white sand beaches. We also went swimming in a mod volcano. We went white water rafting and hiking in the forests around San Gil. We also did a lot of hiking in the Coffee Zone, and stayed in some gorgeous little colonial towns (I think my favorite was Salento). I can't rave about Colombia enough.

Antigua, Guatemala was also really nice. It's 45 minutes from Guatemala city and a world of difference in terms of safety. Antigua is a little colonial town in the mountain, nestled between three volcanoes. Its up high so the weather is pleasant even in the summer. There is good hiking and hot springs in that area, and you are close to Lake Atitlan, which is a huge lake in the mountains surrounded by very pretty villages. Guatemala also has jungles with mayan ruins not far from that area. 

Somewhere I have never been but would like to go - Patagonia. But given that you'd be going in winter, maybe not.

I hope that sparks some ideas for you!

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27552
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2015, 12:37:14 AM »
The wife and I had a great few months backpacking through Europe.  You could hike the Camino in Spain, or at least do (or see) the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

But really, there's no "bad" places to go (assuming you research and don't go somewhere dangerous--but I mean no bad places in terms of awesome things to see).  South America has lots of cool stuff, as does Asia, Eastern Europe, etc.

It may also depend on your budget.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

lpep

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
  • Location: Hanoi, VN
    • My MMM journal
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2015, 02:45:01 AM »
For three weeks, you'll get the most bang for your buck in SE Asia, I think.

Start in Bangkok (easy to fly to) for a few days, head down to the beach. Fly or bus into Siem Reap and spend a few days exploring Angkor Wat. Bus to Phnom Penh. Bus down to HCMC and hang out for a couple days. Go to the Mekong Delta. Bus up to Da Lat for a break from the heat, or Da Nang/Hoi An for more beach. Fly to Kuala Lumpur and spend a few days, then bus down to Singapore. Fly home from Singapore.

lpep

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
  • Location: Hanoi, VN
    • My MMM journal
Re: Budget Backpacking Ideas?
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2015, 02:49:19 AM »
Oh, I'll add this:

Hotel budget, mid-range (hostels are much cheaper of course)
Bangkok: $30/night
Siem Reap: $30/night
Phnom Penh: haven't been but probably $15/night
HCMC: $10/night
Da Lat: $15/night (or I can recommend a fantastic place for $40)
Kuala Lumpur: $20/night
Singapore: $60/night

Food budget, mostly street food, per person per day, estimated high:
Thailand: $15
Cambodia: $30 (Siem Reap only exists for tourism, so is expensive, dunno about PP)
Vietnam: $10
Malaysia: $10
Singapore: $10