Backpacker’s Guide – Sri Lanka on a shoestring budget
Backpackers on a shoestring budget can cut costs during their travel in Sri Lanka. Remember, however, that to be an experiential traveller also requires a willingness to spend. Budget travelling is not “free” travelling. Be prepared to pay a reasonable price for your goods and services. This will help you to bring back positive memories.
Here are some practical tips that can help you to travel Sri Lanka on a shoestring budget:
Seeking Affordable Lodging - Places of lodging can vary from $5 – $500 per diem, depending on the location, type of service, and season. So, think ahead.
A less expensive method is to stay at private homes owned by locals who are willing to rent a room per diem. Usually, locals are happy to make your meals for a reasonable fee. It also gives you the chance to get a taste of local culture. However, you need to ensure your safety when staying at private homes as they are not registered with any association or the government. If someone on the street invites you to stay at his place for an unbelievably bargain price, you may want to think twice.
Staying Sober - Alcohol can escalate your travel costs. If you order beer or other alcohol in hotels it can become very costly. Drink water; it is cheaper, safer, and healthier.
Travel Light - If you carry too many bags you will have to find a home for them, usually in a hotel. If not, it will be difficult for you to carry the bags with you to every place that you sightsee. In some cases, the hotel charges a daily rate daily rate just for keeping your bags, even if you are not spending the night there. Traveling light is easier.
Eat Locally - If you eat local foods it is cheaper than ordering western cuisine. For example ordering bacon, sausages, and eggs for breakfast is more expensive than eating the local cuisine called string hoppers. If you buy food items at the supermarkets imported items like Pepsi and Kelloggs cereal are costly. When buying fruits and vegetables the least expensive source is the open-air market. It is the “hub” where locals converge to buy their groceries, poultry, confectionery, and a host of other necessities.
Brown Bag Snacks - If you are leaving on a long ride buy some snacks like cookies, candy, and bottled water for the road. This is safer than eating meals from untested restaurants. It may also save you money.
Plan your travel and travel your plan - Once you decide on a certain destination, figure out in advance what other sights of interest you can see along the way. Here is an example. Let’s assume you are heading towards Matara. En route, you may pass through Beruwela, Hikkaduwa, Galle, and Mirissa. You can make the maximum from your trip by organizing excursions to the other towns that fall in between. Consult your travel guide to visit places of interest that lie en route to your destination.
Cultural Triangle Tickets - You can buy one ticket that covers all the sights of interest at the Cultural Triangle. This is cheaper than buying tickets at individual temples. Remember though the ticket does not cover every place of historic interest in these areas. The names of the places covered by the Cultural Triangle are specified on the ticket.
Cultivating a Reliable Contact - Having a reliable contact in Sri Lanka can save you time, energy, and money when planning your itinerary. A reliable and trustworthy local friend is an invaluable asset. He/she may go the extra mile to make your vacation a memorable experience.
Saving Costs on Phone Calls - Paying attention to how you stay in touch with friends and relatives overseas can save you hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. Avoid using telephone facilities in hotels as they charge very high rates, especially for international calls. If you are staying at a private home then calling cards are fairly inexpensive that can be used from landline phones. Calls made from government post offices are cheaper than those made from private places.
Using e-mail to stay in Touch - E-mail is an inexpensive way to keep in touch with friends during overseas travel. Most towns have internet cafes. They charge by the minute or in some cases per half hour. Inquire from locals about internet cafés offering reasonable rates.
Snail Mail - Old-fashioned snail mail is probably the cheapest method of communication while staying in touch with your close relatives and friends overseas. Send a post card every two weeks or write a long letter. If you are fond of writing this can save you lots of money. Aerogrammes are cheaper than regular mailing envelopes. Remember to have air mail letters stamped in your presence at a post office. Do not drop off airmail letters in post boxes of the beaten path. Sometimes, their pick up service is not regular.