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Top Money-Saving Tips for Solo Travelers

Most of you already know that I like to save money to travel, including anything from picking up change I find on the street to cooking meals at home. To help you make the most of your money, I’ve gathered here a few tips on how to save and make your money work as hard as possible for you.

Advance Booking Can Be the Name of the Game

When staying in a popular destinations, like Reykjavik, booking ahead is a great idea.

There are some large expenses you know you probably won’t be able to avoid: your plane tickets and hotel rooms are usually two of those. You could save lots of money by booking these in advance. For flights, most travel experts agree that advance ticket booking is the best way to save money. Of course, if you’re backpacking and staying in hostels, I would say walking in can be the best way to snag some deals, unless traveling in peak season or during a festival.

But don’t forget you can also save a lot by reserving in advance when it comes to smaller expenses, like your airport parking. To find your parking spot at the airport, check Looking 4 Parking, a price comparison website that lets you book cheap, secure airport parking in just a few clicks. I wish I had known about this when I unexpectedly had to commit to $200 worth of parking for my trip to Peru!

The Best Price Tag is No Price Tag 

Markets, like this one in Phnom Penh, are a great place to get a feel for everyday life and culture

With access to so much information online, it’s relatively easy to find activities that are completely free or require a very small financial commitment. Search for free museum nights or free walking tours (although you should give a tip in most cases), parks you can visit, free or low cost festivals coming to town, open markets you can stroll through, even museums have free days … Big cities today have a constant influx of free (or almost free) activities for you to do.

Free accommodation is also possible, especially when you’re a solo world explorer. Through couchsurfing, people can meet and stay with locals all around the world. You might literally end up sleeping on a couch, but the people you’ll meet will genuinely want to spend time together… and you’ll have a place to stay for free! The common courtesy in the couchsurfing world is to share a meal or a drink with your host, and to pay for your stay with stories of your travel experiences. Read more about my this tips on my Couchsurfing Guide. You’ll probably even score quite a few tips on what to see and do in the city.

Go From A to B on the Cheap

Plus, night transportation can double as an office on wheels (or tracks in this case)! 

When possible, combine expenses. If you need to take an eight-hour train ride to the next city, don’t waste a day in transportation: check if reserving a bunk in a night train can be cheaper than a night at a hotel or B&B. Even if the bunk turns out a bit more expensive than a regular seat, you’ll be able to sleep and continue your travel the next day. If you travel by plane, look for overnight flights, which are usually cheaper than day-time ones; this will probably also save you the cost of overnight accommodation.

Or, if you are driving alone to your destination, pick up some passengers and fill the empty seats in your car. Services like Kangaride (or BlaBlaCar in Europe) let you earn a bit of money for taking on passengers, which should cover at least the price of your gas. Plus, having travel companions could also make the drive feel a lot shorter.

On my last trip through SE Asia I even took a spontaneous trip to Kuala Lumpur because stopping there for a week made our flight to Bali significantly cheaper. Just be open to different ideas.

Check if Paying a Bit More Could Actually Save You Money

Sometimes, spending a few dollars more on a service ends up saving you money in the long run.

If you know you’ll be spending a night at a hotel before your flight, check hotels near the airport that offer a deal on parking if you stay with them. Since you’ll already be spending money on the room, make that money go a longer way by also booking your parking at the hotel, if they offer a good deal. In some cases, your parking could end up almost free.

When you fly, check how long you’ll have to spend at the airport. If you know you’ll want to eat, have a drink, buy a magazine, use the Wi-Fi etc., it might end up cheaper for you to book access to a lounge than to buy these separately. In the end, it could simply be the same price, but you’ll get a better service (and maybe access to some extras like a shower) without spending more.

Traveling solo can be the best thing for your soul, but it means there is no one to split the expenses with. That doesn’t mean you can’t make your money go a long way. By planning and booking in advance, seeking free activities and combining your expenses, you can go far without spending as much with these money-saving tips. Time to start looking at your next destination!

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  • Reply
    May 25, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Great advice, Paige — all of it! I especially love your wise observation that sometimes shelling out a bit more up-front (like buying a pass to an airport lounge) can save you money over purchasing food, wi-fi, etc individually. That’s why I often book apartments these days instead of hotel rooms: It seems a bit more expensive at first blush, but you more than make up the difference by cooking at home instead of eating out. Happy travels to you!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      Thank you Heide! I definitely agree with the apartment or condo rental. Especially in countries or states where food is quite pricy, it makes a huge difference to be able to fix one or two of them yourself. I definitely did that in Hawaii and Iceland!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Very nice blog and excellent tips. Happy travel!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      Thank you so much, Syam. Happy travels to you as well!

  • Reply
    Agness of aTukTuk
    June 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Awesome tips, Paige! I enjoyed reading your post!

  • Reply
    June 20, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Great tips! I strongly agree with “Check if Paying a Bit More Could Actually Save You Money”. There have been many times where I thought I was saving money, but ended up paying more than what I was expecting 🙁

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 21, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      It’s so true! It seems like it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. I’m glad you’ve also learned the same lesson! Cheers!

  • Reply
    Cori Carl
    June 21, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Great tips! I am a huge fan of CouchSurfing, it’s brought me some amazing experiences. I’ve found that using my credit card saves me tons of money — airport lounge access means not paying for wifi or meals, I get purchase protection and rental car insurance. Of course, it’s only a perk if you are buying things you’d buy anyway and paying it off, but it’s been great for me.

  • Reply
    Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)
    June 21, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Great tips (and I’m off to Pin them now)! I’ve done more than one night train in order to avoid hotel costs when traveling in Europe. It really easy way to save money, plus you don’t lose time. Advanced booking can also make a huge difference, particularly at really popular times of year, here in California, too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    June 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    These are great tips! We find that in some destinations, mostly SE Asia it can be a mistake to book accommodation in advance. We like to show up and look at the rooms then make a deal for how ever many nights we are staying. Usually they will drop the price if you guarantee x amount of nights. The only problem would be it takes a little bit of time out of your day and if you’re already on a tight schedule its not worth it!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    June 21, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    These are definitely points to remember to ensure you optimize your travel costs. Booking in advance is really a major component. We have found that we save huge on flight costs when we book well in advance. And as flight costs usually form the bulk of travel costs this substantially brings down the expenses.

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