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Long term travel without being wealthy - how is it possible?

I'm mildly ashamed to say I hardly ever budget for my trips. I tend to look at my bank balance, look at the trip, and go "meh, it'll work". The last big one almost caught me out when Finland wrecked my balance a bit - wow it's expensive :/

My general strategy for accommodation is to sort hostels by price, then choose the one with the best atmosphere.

My general strategy for transport is that cheapest is best, and gets the best stories.

This leaves food, which is where I'm happy to try everything and money saved on accommodation can be used for activities and food.

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However, there are inherent flaws in this when accommodation works out horrendously, or I spend 10 days in St Petersburg waiting for a Kazakh visa...

So what's a great break-it-down strategy for how to budget successfully for long-term (3+ months) backpacking?

(I realise we have some questions asking what budget to allow for certain places, but not on HOW to budget, so this can be relevant for others as well)