Dirt cheap or dear? How much cash do you need?

Jane E. Fraser suggests the amount of cash you need to survive overseas.

Remember when you could do "Europe on $50 a day"? It was a catchphrase that sold guidebooks en masse and became the budget guideline for many a traveller ... but that seems like a long time ago.

Even the hardiest traveller would now struggle to survive on $50 a day in Europe.

So just how much do you need?

If you are planning an overseas trip and want to do it on the cheap, what is a realistic budget these days?

Europe

Lonely Planet author Sarah Wintle says it is possible to get by in Europe on $100 a day (and less in many areas) if you stay in hostels and self-cater for meals.

David Hearle, the founder of online travel guide publisher eGuide, agrees, saying he recently travelled around Italy on €100 (about $180) a day for two people.

Hearle says the hardest part of travelling on the cheap, in Britain in particular, is the cost of internal transport, which can easily blow a $100 a day budget.

He says budget travellers in Europe need to pre-book hostels or guesthouses and also pre-book any internal flights.

Asia

South-East Asia remains super affordable, with a budget traveller typically able to live on $30-$40 a day.

Food is exceptionally cheap in most countries generally only a few dollars a meal and using cheap guesthouses and local transport will stretch your budget a long way.

Hearle says you can live "really, really well" on $100 a day in countries such as Thailand and can very easily get by on $50 a day.

Wintle says you can travel even cheaper in India, where $12-$15 a day will cover food, accommodation and local transport.

Middle East

Dubai has given the Middle East a reputation for being expensive but outside of Dubai travelling is generally still cheap. You can get a hearty restaurant meal for about $15 and decent hotel accommodation from about $80 a night for two people.

"Dubai is trying to capture the high-end market but when you're actually on the ground in the Middle East, I think it is great value," Wintle says. "They can't afford to make it expensive, they're desperate for people to visit."

North America

Now that the exchange rate has come good, it is reasonably easy to travel North America on the cheap. New York is always a challenge but in most places you can get a hostel bed for $25-$35 a night and eating is cheap, especially if you are self-catering.

Motel rooms can be good value if you are travelling as a couple and in many towns and cities you can get a decent hotel room for $70-$80 a night for two people. Keep an eye out for special deals on the Amtrak rail system or other local transport and you should be able to live on somewhere between $70 and $100 a day.

South America

Wintle says much of South America is comparable to or cheaper than Australian living costs, with decent hostel accommodation for about $30 a night. Bolivia is "incredibly cheap", Chile is very reasonable and Argentina remains good value despite its European influences.

Wintle says local buses are great value but internal flights can be "exorbitant", especially if you don't speak Spanish and cannot search local websites for online deals.

Africa

Hearle says it is extremely hard to travel on the cheap in Africa, with the exception of South Africa, where prices are often better than Australia. He says it is hard to get a hotel room in Africa for less than $150 a night and transport can be expensive.

Hearle recommends a daily budget of at least $100 a day "just to survive" in most parts of Africa and says you need to add a lot more for activities and tours such as game drives.

This means a budget of at least $300 a day and Hearle says you could easily spend more. "Africa is not a budget destination," he says.

BUDGET TIPS

- Use public transport where possible.

- Buy at least some meals in local markets or supermarkets.

- Combine visits to expensive countries with time in cheap countries to help balance your spending.

- Limit your time in big cities.

- Keep an eye on exchange rates and make bookings and currency transactions when favourable.

- Make the most of free museums and galleries for entertainment.

- Do your own touring instead of taking organised tours.

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