Though there are lots of ways to take a budget tour of Nepal (like GetYourGuide), I knew I would be spending long enough in the country to justify doing everything from hiking to logistics planning on my own.
I was originally aiming for $25 a day and hoping for something like $20 in Nepal, so I definitely went over what I had intended to spend in the country. To put this in perspective, though, I only spent an average of a little over $700 a month while trekking, flying a couple of times, eating amazing food (and drinking coffee) in Kathmandu, and crashing in a decent but more expensive guesthouse my last 5 days in the area.
Nepal could certainly be done for cheaper, but as it was I never really wanted for anything over the course of the three months. One key way to save money would be to spend more time in less developed areas. Because of the GRE and trying to organize volunteering I ended up spending almost 1/3rd of my time in Nepal based out of Kathmandu. While the city is really convenient as a base between trips outside, I wouldn’t expect that most tourists are going to spend nearly that high a proportion of their time in town. Except for at the highest altitudes just below Everest Base Camp, even the teahouse trekking was cheaper that an average day in Kathmandu. Do some trekking anywhere outside of Everest and Annapurna, and the cost falls to almost nothing. Look at my costs around mid-October to get a feel for what I mean.
The keys to traveling Nepal on a budget, then:
* Restrict coffee (and beer, for that matter) drinking.
* Spread trekking out over less common areas instead of just the big two of Everest and Annapurna. Think a long walk in or out of the main areas as a way to see more and spend less.
* Minimize time in Kathmandu.
* Commit to long-distance overnght bus rides instead of short and easy 30 minute flights. This one gets harder after taking more of those bus rides.