I often get asked this question on the community board and in the budget travel forum. "Is it cheaper to travel with someone or alone" So I decided to ask some well-travelled ladies their thoughts on solo travel budget tips. The truth is it isn't about solo or not solo travel. It's around the way you travel. Both have their pros and cons. These ladies are specifically giving us tips on solo travel. If you have tips on budget travel, we would love to include them.
Without further ado, I would love to introduce you to Sarah T from sarahtoyin.com, Trina from teamhazardridesagain.com, Emily from ThePlankingTraveller.com and Sarah from theunconventionalgrasshopper.com
Sarah T from sarahtoyin.com has travelled places like Korea and Ghana and lives a life on the road. She says “Travelling solo is exciting, fun and liberating but can also be expensive if you don't find ways to keep your budget low” but she believes that Trying to keep a low budget should not make your trip dull and boring, it should really just save you money. She says “I have travelled solo multiple times to more expensive countries like Beijing, Malaga and Luxembourg and while I enjoyed myself, there are a few things I did to budget and cut my costs while travelling.”
Emily from the ThePlankingTraveller.com enjoys finding creative ways to travel further on a small budget and thus far has been to 38 countries. She shares some of her tips in this post.
Meanwhile the writer of theunconventionalgrasshopper.com - Sarah L asks the question “Is anyone a budget traveller through choice? I guess in some respect, a lot of us are. We sacrifice comfort and luxury in order to travel for longer. I know I’d rather slum it and explore for months than live in luxury for only a few days. I suspect I’m not the only one, right?”
She believes that Travelling solo and on a budget teaches you valuable life skills. Sarah tells us “I am so much savvier than the Sarah of a few years ago, who had only ever stayed in hotels – albeit cheap ones – and eaten in restaurants – again cheap ones!
The Sarah of today has been slumming it solo for a few years and is now in a position to impart some knowledge – gained through experience as well as many, many mistakes!
Sarah also gives some great tips on Sacramento on a budget here.
Budget Accommodation as a solo traveller
Let's first talk about one of the biggest holes in the traveller's pocket! Accommodation! It's unavoidable and often expensive. It's just a bed though! You are not travelling to sleep! You travel to... be awake and alive! So what is the best way around this!
Sarah L says “This is probably the worst kept secret of budget travelling: if you want to travel on the cheap, meet super cool people and have a terrible night’s sleep, then a hostel you must find!”
I, personally, most certainly agree with these travel ladies - I have had some of the best trips in cities because of hostels. I preach hostels to every traveller from the solo to the couples and even the elderly travellers. For solo travellers it’s the way forward - after all, its just a bed for the night. People do have their reservations and fears of hostels - I get that. But hostels have lockers for your things and are generally safe. Every now and then you may get a tough to sleep in hostel but 95% of the time I have had good ones.
Sarah T is also all for hostels but she does understand the reservations. She says “People can be a little wary of hostels due to stories about them being "party central". This is not always the case and doing appropriate research can help you decide what kind of hostel you would like to stay in. In Luxembourg and Beijing, I have stayed in wonderful hostels and this helped to cut my costs drastically in comparison to an Airbnb or hotel. Staying in a hostel normally allows you to stay in a bed and share a room and bathroom with others. Choosing a hostel that includes breakfast can help you to keep a low budget since you will not need to buy breakfast.
Hostels are normally half the price of staying a hotel and depending on the country can be extremely cheap. In hostels, you can also book single rooms if you would like a lot more privacy. They tend to be cheaper than booking a room in a hotel.
As you can see having flexibility with dates and times and staying at a hostel can help solo travellers to travel on a low budget while having an awesome trip!”
If you are in a relationship or travelling with a friend, perhaps a cheap hostel is more cost effective. But this also means you miss meeting new friends and other travellers. On top of this, there are some really unique and cool hostel, like these ones in this article. Also! Always remember to have the right hostel ettique. I provide some tips in this article.
Emily gives us some great resources for cheap accommodation
TalkTalkBnb – With this system, you receive free lodging in exchange for practicing language skills with the host in the country you are visiting. I received an invitation to Italy that I would have loved to accept, but the timing just didn’t work out. Either way, I love the concept and hope to use it someday soon.
Holiday Swap – Seen that movie called The Holiday? It’s like that! You exchange homes with other travelers. Might not work for everyone, but what a great way to save and see more of the world if it works out!
WWOOF – Volunteer on organic farms in exchange for room & board. A great way to learn about agriculture while seeing new places.
HelpX – HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.
Workaway – Sustainable and cultural exchange similar to WWOOF and HelpX. Help the hosts with a variety of tasks in exchange for food and lodging.
Trusted Housesitters – for an annual fee, you can find housesitting opportunities around the world for free lodging in exchange for caring for pets.
I asked these brilliant ladies for tips on sticking to a budget as a solo traveller and here are some of the great tips they give.
Sarah T - Being Flexible With My Dates and Destination
When I travel solo, I am flexible to be able to travel whenever I want to but also to whether the price is right. I am able to tweak my dates based on prices and destinations. This has been how I have booked the majority of my solo trips and it has allowed me to find the cheapest priced flights because I was not bound to any dates and or destinations. I did not have a specific place I wanted to travel to, I just wanted to travel therefore choosing a destination that was within my budget was possible. Even if you have a destination you would like to go to being flexible with dates can make it so much cheaper.
Sarah L - Where to eat
While we’re on the subject of hostels…
To save even more money, choose one which offers cooking facilities and free breakfast. The tastiest morning spread I have ever had was in a hostel in Sacramento, California: soft walnut bread from the local farmer’s market, peanut butter, porridge, jelly and freshly brewed coffee – non-vegan travellers also had the choice of free-range eggs (also from the farmer’s market), butter and yoghurt. I made myself peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, hence saving the price of another meal – I always kept it to a sensible amount, though! Generosity is not something to take advantage of!
A lot of hostels also organise free evening meals (although a small donation is always welcome). It’s a great way to save money and meet other travellers.
Sarah L - Activities when visiting a city
Free tours are becoming the norm in many cities around the world. And although I am a partisan of the self-guided tour, this is awesome news for us, budget travellers! Again, a donation at the end is always welcome and often well deserved: I followed a tour guide around Tallinn’s medieval Old Town on a recent trip to Estonia and she completely made me fall in love with the city! I think I might have tipped her more than a company would have charged for the tour – great budget tip, huh?!
I am also a strong believer that street art and live music are as valuable – if not more – to understanding a country’s culture than the expensive tourist sites. And whilst I would never discourage anyone from visiting the Louvre, the Guggenheim or Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, I will also recommend the street art of Belleville, live jazz at the Lucky Dog in Brooklyn or a punk show in Shimokitazawa!
So if you find yourself with low funds but high wanderlust, be flexible, be open, and pack your bags - hand luggage only, of course - because travelling is definitely possible!
Trina - Taking local public transport
When traveling on a budget, one of the best things you can do is take local transportation. It's both economical and can be a lot of fun – and sometimes a bit of an adventure.
Admittedly, there are some places where the local bus may not be a good idea for safety reasons, so always ask locals for recommendations.
However, most of the time, traveling local is the way to go. From tro-tros in Ghana, to high-speed trains in China. Traina talks more gives public transport tips in more detail in this article.
No matter what country you visit, check to see if taking local transport will work for you. It's a great way to get to know a place and is easy on your wallet.
Emily on Travel Credit Cards
Get a quality travel credit card and put ALL your purchases on it. Most have a sign up bonus that will give you enough points for either a free flight or several nights of free lodging. My favorite multi-purpose travel card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred as you can use points on any airline or use them for lodging or even to pay for Amazon purchases. My favorite hotel card is the Marriott Bonvoy card. There is an annual fee, but you receive a free night’s stay each year on your sign-up anniversary.
What are your big solo travel budget tips. Leave them in the comment or shoot me an email if you want to be a part of this article.