Traveling to your dream country is an exciting adventure, but it can also be a costly one, especially if you’re traveling solo. However, with careful planning and budgeting, it’s possible to travel to your dream destination without breaking the bank.
In this article, we’ll share some helpful tips and tricks to help you plan an affordable yet unforgettable solo vacation. From researching the best times to travel, finding budget-friendly accommodations, saving money, and taking advantage of free activities, we’ve got you covered.
Research and Plan Ahead
Researching and planning for a trip may not be the most exciting part of the travel experience, but it’s crucial to the success of your trip. The more effort you put into planning, the better your trip will go and the more money you’ll save.
When researching, consider the best times to travel to your destination. Timing is critical when it comes to finding the best travel deals. According to CheapAir.com, on average, the best time to purchase plane tickets for a domestic trip is around 76 days before your departure date. For international travel, booking about six months in advance is ideal to get the best deals.
However, it’s important to remember that this is just an average, and it’s best to avoid peak travel times, which include summer and major holidays. Especially for solo travelers, be aware of the shoulder season for more affordable travel. The off-season tends to be less expensive and crowded, but still has what you want. And since you don’t have to wait for others or consult anyone, you can be more flexible in your planning.
Planning Your Itinerary
When planning your itinerary, it’s important to make the most of your time and money. Instead of planning an itinerary for every day, plan a few day options to choose from.
Make a list of exciting things to do, such as museums, cool neighborhoods, and food recommendations, and gradually chip away at the research to streamline your ideal activity list. Make sure to have a backup list of activities in case plans fall through.
Set a Budget
Before planning any trip, it’s important to determine how much money you can afford to spend. This is especially important for embarking on a solo trip. Take a look at your finances and figure out a budget for your trip. Be realistic about your budget and take into account any other expenses, such as bills or loans. Create a priorities list for your trip: allocate more funds to your top priorities and know where you don’t mind splurging a little bit.
Once you have a total budget in mind, break it down by categories, such as transportation, lodging, food, and activities. You could even create a separate savings account for travel expenses so that you’re more prepared and feel more at ease while traveling.
Find Trips with No or Low Single Supplement
The single supplement is one of the biggest financial obstacles for solo travelers. Tour companies advertise their rates based on double occupancy. So, when a solo traveler signs up for the tour they’re often charged up to double the per-person rate. Choose your tour companies wisely, check deal pages, and book early. Companies like Intrepid Travel and G Adventures are now accommodating solo travelers by waiving extra fees.
Look for Affordable Accommodation
Accommodation can be one of the most expensive parts of your trip. Still, there are ways to find affordable options, especially if you’re traveling solo.
Consider staying in hostels or vacation rentals instead of hotels, as they often offer cheaper rates. You can also use booking sites to compare prices and find the best deals on accommodations.
Another way to save money on accommodations is by being flexible with your travel dates. You may find lower rates if you can travel during off-peak times, such as weekdays or shoulder seasons.
If hostels or shared accommodations aren’t your style, you can still save money by finding a single room. Look for hotels that offer rooms that are smaller than the typical “single” room with a twin bed meant for solo travelers.
Take Advantage of Free Activities
Research free attractions and activities in your destination. Many cities have free museums, art galleries, and parks you can visit without spending a dime.
Also, take advantage of nature and public spaces, such as parks and beaches, for outdoor activities—it’s all free and absolutely beautiful. It might even be a nice, quiet getaway from the busier touristy areas.
Another option is to attend local events or festivals that don’t require admission fees and check for free walking tours or other guided tours you can join. There are apps such as GPSmycity that offer free self-guided tours for over 1,000 cities. This ensures you see your destination in a more social light, maybe make new friends, and make lasting memories.
Use Your Networks
Traveling on your own can be daunting for several reasons. But, you can still enjoy solo travel while meeting new people along the way. Use your networks to connect with locals in the area. For example, book a free local greeter or join a local group for your interests (i.e. a walking, running, or yoga group).
Use your networks to find others traveling alone to the same destination or join a solo travel group through a structured tour company. You can also take classes, like cooking or art, in the city you’re visiting or find meet-ups to meet people with whom you can share experiences and potentially expenses.
Use Public Transportation
By far, one of the best money saving tips is to use public transportation instead of renting a car or taking taxis. Most cities have efficient and affordable public transportation systems, such as buses, trains, or subways, that can take you to your desired destinations.
Using public transportation saves money and can be a great way to experience the local culture and get around like a local. Consider getting a day or week pass for unlimited rides or buying tickets in bulk to save even more.
If using public transportation as a solo traveler feels too vulnerable or unsafe or if you know transportation is a top priority, there are other budget-friendly ways to get around town. Find a locally run group shuttle or use a shared ride like an UberPool. And of course, walk when you can!
Loosely Plan Your Meals
Food expenses can add up quickly while traveling, but there are ways to save money on meals. Look for affordable dining options, such as local markets or street food. Pack snacks and drinks for when you’re on the go and consider cooking your own meals if your accommodations have a kitchen.
You don’t need to plan out every meal, but having a loose plan can help you stay on budget. Research restaurants or food options you’d like to try, and pick one or two that you’d be willing to spend a little more money on. This way, you can still enjoy the local cuisine without breaking the bank.
And, take advantage of hotels and hostels that offer free breakfast or eat at times when you can find happy hours deals or buffets. Another great option for solo travelers is to post your dining plans (if you want the company) on your hostel board or local networks so you can split the cost with other travelers.
Save Before You Go
Saving money for a trip can seem overwhelming, but there are many strategies you can use to help fund your dream vacation. One effective approach is to “pay yourself first,” which means setting aside a certain amount of money from each paycheck specifically for your trip. You can do this by setting up a separate bank account for your travel funds and scheduling automatic transfers to that account each month.
To save even more, consider cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Take a look at your monthly spending and see where you can make cuts. For example, consider eating out less or canceling subscription services you don’t use. Instead, use that money to put it toward your trip.
Another helpful tool is a budgeting app that can help you track your spending and stay on track. Several apps allow you to track your expenses, set budgets, and receive notifications when you reach the limit. This can be a helpful tool to keep your finances in check and ensure that you have enough money for your trip. By being mindful of your spending and using tools to help you save, you’ll be well on your way to your dream vacation.
Traveling to your dream country on a budget and on your own is possible with some careful planning and budgeting. By researching the best times to travel, finding budget- and solo travel-friendly accommodations, saving money, and taking advantage of free activities, you can make your dream vacation a reality without breaking the bank.
Additionally, setting a budget and using money-saving strategies such as using public transportation and loosely planning your meals can help you save even more.
With these tips and tricks, you can make the most of your time and money while exploring your dream destination. So start planning and saving today; before you know it, you’ll be jetting off to your dream country on a budget.