When backpacking across a country or even a continent, transportation will likely eat up a bulk of your budget. However, by knowing which transportation options could save you a little cash, and which ones may cost a little extra, minimizing your expenses doesn’t have to be difficult. In general, you can think of transportation a lot like you would in accommodations. If you stay in a shared room in a hostel, you can definitely save a ton of money over staying in a nice traditional hotel. The more you pay, the more can expect to get. Keep in mind that you should definitely do your research about what each country offers, because every country is a little different, which can not only affect costs, but also availability.
Outside of walking or hitchhiking, the most inexpensive ways to travel would be options like trains and a variety of buses. In general, the more people you can fit into a single trip, the cheaper it will be for each individual person. In many countries, trains will likely be a little more expensive than taking a bus and depending on your plans, more impractical as well. Additionally, if you are on a popular train route for tourists, there is a good chance that it will not only be more expensive, but also carry a higher risk of theft.
When it comes to buses, you may have a lot of options, depending on where specifically you are at. In general, buses will be the most efficient option in terms of available routes, travel times, and especially price. The biggest potential drawback is that can definitely start to feel like you are spending more time on buses than exploring the country.
Along with traditional buses, there are night buses and mini buses. The goal or reason to take a night bus is that you get to travel and sleep at the same time. Ideally, this would mean that you don’t have to pay for lodging for the evening, plus you will wake up at your destination. Unfortunately, getting a good night’s sleep can definitely be elusive depending on your luck. If this is the case, then you could end up wasting the entire next day because you just don’t have the energy to enjoy your surroundings. However, if time and finances are limited, a night bus could prove a useful solution. Mini buses are normally owned by a private company and will often be much faster than a traditional bus. While they may not be very comfortable, they are great for shorter trips.
By making smart transportation decisions, you can not only save some money, but also garner additional benefits as well. If your goal is backpack across a country or a continent and not just do the traditional touristy things, then trains and buses will likely offer your best solutions. Trains and buses are great for long distance travel. Trains and night buses are great for overnight travel and mini buses are fantastic for short to medium travel.