How to plan a backpacking trip

How to plan a backpacking trip

We all dream of travelling the world and I certainly was no different. There is no greater feeling than those airport check-ins and pre-flight drinks; when you are about to visit somewhere new. Planning an around the world backpacking trip was one of the most exciting times in my life but it can also be quite daunting. At first you get over excited and create a ridiculously unrealistic list of places you want to go (everywhere). Then when you calm yourself down a bit the questions come flooding in until your head starts to spin. Where do I start? How much money will I need? How long should we go? Do I leave my job? Etc.

I am a travel blog fanatic. I follow a ridiculous amount of travel bloggers and refer to them daily for advice. They are an absolute lifesaver when backpacking. I became quite obsessive when I knew I was going travelling. My family, friends and work besties where probably sick to death of listening to me ranting on haha. Every spare minute I had I was either trawling through Pinterest’s travel boards or filling in my travel plan excel sheet (yes I made an Excel, I like to be organised ha). I wanted to create a blog in the hope that It will help some people the same way those incredible travel blogs help me every day. Our adventure consists of an ambitious 17 countries in one year all going to plan. Here’s how I went about planning our trip.

Save, Save, Save!

This obviously goes without saying. Unless you’ve got loads of money (in that case you don’t need to plan!). Save as much as you physically can. Once you decide when you want to go, set up a savings account with a direct debit from your current account every month. This helps you to stay on track. Choose a savings account that will let you lodge money into when you have money left over at the end of each month. Most savings accounts will let you do this but mine restricted me to the monthly lodgements only. This was a pain when I had a little bit of money left over that I wanted to contribute to the fund. It can be SO hard to walk past that top in Zara or say no to a night out, but trust me it is so so worth when your boarding that plane! I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t always the best at this given we left just after Christmas. There was just the occasional drink for three consumed! You can always save more but you just need to be as strict as you can on yourself.

How much did we save?

I’ve been asked this question quite alot since we left in January. The answer is that it really depends on your destinations. Our route is primarily Asia for the year so its alot cheaper and easier to stretch your money further here. We are currently budgeting €1500 a month each but this was naturally alot higher in Australia and New Zealand as its much more expensive there. We budgeted roughly €2500 – €3000 a month there. In general it will always vary slightly each month depending on where you are going. Although our budget is €1500 a month each in asia, we know it will probably be more when we are visiting the more expensive countries such as Japan or Singapore. As a rough guide, if you are planning the same route as us for a year, then you would live comfortably on €20,000-25,000 for the year. However you could get by on €15,000 – 18,000 if you spend the majority of your time in the cheaper countries. 

*Please note that this is just our own personal opinions based on our travel experiences. It is by no means an exact figure but more so to be used as a guide. 

Pick your destinations

Me and my bf Darragh literally took out a ginormous world map, placed it on the kitchen floor and started marking off all the countries we wanted to go to. We went to a travel agent in Dublin called Trailfinders who specialise in booking long term budget backpacking trips. We presented them with our long list of countries and timelines and they planned out different routes for us to review. Based on our budget we had to knock a few countries off our list. My advice would be to go to the travel specialists first and clearly outline your must- sees and budget. They will talk you through each route until you find one that best suits your plans. We opted for their “the around the world ticket”. This included all major flights but gave us the flexibility we wanted. I didn’t want a route where everything was set in stone. We wanted the freedom to travel to different places at different times depending on much we liked a place or on the people we met. Our route was Dublin to Sydney, Auckland to Bali, and Sir Lanka back to Dublin. This came to a grand total of €1,200. Your biggest upfront expense will be your flights so I was really happy with the quote. For everything in between we just make our own way but we still have the safety net of a flight home if needed. Planning as you go is the way forward for  a trip like this.

Decide on timelines

Not everyone is willing to just drop everything, quit their job and go travelling long term. Whether it’s a year or a month it’s important to know when you want to go and for how long; in order to get the most out of our trip. I wanted to follow the sun for the year so I planned the route to ensure we would avoid the rainy seasons and winter. A lot of people asked us why we started in Oz, the most expensive destination. Two things really; 1. I wanted to experience their summer months and 2. It was easier for us to budget the expensive places first to ensure we wouldn’t over spend in the cheaper countries and miss out on visiting there at all. I made an impressive excel sheet which listed out all the counties and how many days we would spend in each. This is subject to change of course based on your experiences. Having a rough guide however helps you stay reasonably on track so you don’t miss out on places you want to see.

Outline a Budget

If you plan on not working for as long as possible, allocate yourself a monthly allowance. Try your hardest to stick to this. It may mean a bit of paperwork. Jot down outgoings that you know you will have to pay for: Accommodation, flights, Visa’s, food etc. Then whatever is left over is your spending money for activities!

Top Tip: Sign up to sites such as or Trivago to receive discounts on hotels and hostels in your area. We literally book everything though these and have had absolutely no problems so far. Great for reviews too. Also sign up to airline loyalty schemes to clock up your miles and receive discounts on flights. We are signed up to the AirAsia app and get emails when there is a flash sale on first. You have to be flexible to get the best deals. The Revolut Card is also UH-mazing! It’s a pre-paid travel card that allows you to withdraw money in ninety different currencies at the best exchange rate so you save money! Perfect for budgeting and it is incredibly safe.100% get this if you are a frequent traveller.

Be Safe

I cannot stress enough how important it is to research where you’re going before you go. We downloaded the Department of Foreign affairs “Travel Wise” app for Irish Citizens but every country has an equivalent. This gives us information on every country such as the security status, culture, safety, local laws, climate etc. so you know what to expect before you go.

No matter how well you plan there will always be challenges. Not every destination or transport method will be perfect. So be prepared for this. This week mark’s our three-month travel anniversary and our trip has been going pretty smooth so far (hope I didn’t jinx it!). If travel has thought me anything it’s to just chill out and go with the flow. Hopefully these tips will help a few others planning a backpacking trip.

Thanks so much for reading!



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