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Survival Tips For The Broke Backpacker

To be young and broke is the norm for a big percentage of the youth.

To be young and broke while traveling abroad is a different matter, though.

It’s what nightmares are made of, especially for those who are traveling on a budget in a different country where the most familiar person you know is dead and has a monument which every other tourist wants to see.

So, what should you do? Well, the first two things are probably standard. One, turn over your backpack and search every single pocket or possible hiding place for coins or, if you are lucky, paper money. Two, seek help.

Now, seeking for help is tricky. Should you be running for Ms/Mr Friendship over at your backpackers’ hostel, you can probably ask someone for help while you wait for Daddy-o to send you some emergency cash.

If you are out of luck in that department and your coins aren’t enough to get you another night at the cheapest hostel in town… and you would have to wait until tomorrow before your emergency cash arrives, head for the airport and sleep there.

If you are unable to get in touch with friends and relatives back home that can help you out, head for the embassy/consulate. They’ll help you out.

BUT, before all of the above can happen, do something to prevent it.

Be friendly. The person you just shared stories with could help you out, should something happen. Hide enough cash – in your shoes, deep within your bag, etc. – which can support you until you get emergency help from home.

Give your parents all the information you need and make sure you know where the (as an example) nearest Western Union branch is in the city you are visiting. This would ensure faster arrival of emergency cash.

If possible, pre-pay your hostel. That way, you have a place to sleep and only need to worry about what you can eat.

Knock on wood and hope that you wouldn’t have to do any of the above the next time you start vagabonding.

I was asked about Sleeping in Cars if the same problem occurs. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it at all. However, if you are desperate and short of cash…

Off the top of my head, here are a few tips for budget travelers who may find themselves with no other choice but to sleep in their cars:

Women traveling alone should NOT do it at all.

Look for 24/7 truck stops and hospital parking lots. Both locations are more likely to be monitored and are tolerant of people grabbing a few hours of sleep in their cars.

Never park on the side of a deserted road. Look for campgrounds around the area where you will be driving. Not only will it be a lot safer, you will also have access to toilets.

Go to a gas station and ASK if it’s ok to park and sleep there. Don’t sleep with the engine idling. You might not wake up anymore.

I do hope, though, that you save a bit more to be able to afford cheap accommodations (there are quite a few all over) before you start your trip.

The author writes about Ryanair Baggage Allowance and blogs at