Whilst you should experience as much as possible - you can definitely do it within a budget. Learn from my mistakes and my last excessive spending trip.
1. Plan out a week to week budget
Before you go, find out how much food, transport and living costs are in the country. Can you bring things from your home country, or can you find a hostel instead of a 5 star hotel. Use local rickshaws instead of taxis. Use a spreadsheet and budget how much it would cost you weekly, where you can save, and how much you can spend on weekend trips.
2. Ask your friends whether the price you’re paying is worth it.
Sometimes, our impulsive nature can take over. However, use your sound mind and judgment before you buy. If an item is above the usual costs for that country, message or text an AIESECer locally to check. A simple photo and response could save you tens or hundreds of dollars. (e.g. if clothes/ souvenirs are usually around $20, don’t expect to pay $200).
Find a similar item at the market. These are gifts you want to give to yourself, or to your family. They will appreciate the gift regardless. At the end of the day, they may or may not use your gift, but at least purchasing something shows them you’re thinking of them. Sometimes that’s enough.
3. Plan weekends ahead of time, and do your research.
A lot of the time, it’s quite possible to take an overnight bus/ train instead of a plane. If you’re looking to book flights a few days before, the price won’t be too different from your country’s own domestic flights. If you’re planning 2 months in advance, it’s best to start booking flights now and worrying about the details of what you’re doing in another province/ city later.
Research local activities - whether there’s cheap and safe alternatives, and whether the experience is worth it. E.g. if you want to go paragliding, then safety is paramount. It’s better to find a service that is more expensive to ensure your safety, and you’ll be able to have a great experience.
4. Travel with other volunteers to minimize costs
If you’re traveling alone, a room cost, a taxi will be more expensive. Furthermore, you won’t have the delight of trying as many different foods as possible. If you travel with other volunteers - you can buy food together, take photos together and have a great time in each other’s company.
So use your savings wisely, because it’s not ideal to blow your spending over one trip. There are certain items you can buy at a lower price if you search around. Plan your trips ahead of time to ensure you can see different parts of the country and try local cuisines, meet local people.
When you come back, you might be jobless, and without money. On the bright side, you’ll have a wealth of stories to share.