I will be backpacking around India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for 6 months. We (my friend and I) are on a very tight budget and will be staying in hostels and doing everything as cheaply as possible. I live in the UK and will be 24 when we leave. I was wondering if there are any kind of discounts, youth or otherwise, that are actually worth getting? I have looked at the STA Youth Discount card, but I'm just not convinced it will actually be that helpful or I'll actually end up using it! Am I wrong? Does it actually make a difference to your overall budget? Or are there any other options that are better and can actually save you money?
I've always understood we westerners who can afford to travel are effectively all rich people by Asian standards. The tiers of pricing are generally "locals" and "foreigners".
"We (my friend and I) are on a very tight budget and will be staying in hostels and doing everything as cheaply as possible."
If your budget doesn't allow you a decent place that is safe with a minimum of basic creature comforts don't stay away from home so long so you have better accommodations with the money you have. Six months is a long time eating cheap food and staying in cheap places maybe only with squat toilets and cold water showers.
You might want to have some medical insurance good for overseas. Just in case a motorbike you are on crashes or you get some sort of infection, etc.
Like the previous post hints at - Westerners are thought of as being wealthy! This is partly based on the fact that we can afford expensive flights and tramp all over various exotic countries on a whim. In some countries being a foreigner you are charged a higher cost to enter tourist sites, etc.
Plan a budget out and determine how much you can afford for your accommodation on a daily basis. That's a start. Sleeping in remote areas with only fan cooling and open windows with a screen between you and the outside might be safe most of the time. But screens often don't even keep out the flying insects. In some areas you may find more cheap guest houses than shared hostels. You can ask for hotel, guest house, hostel help for various popular cities if you want but include a price range.