Traveling can be expensive which is why so many people never get to experience it. But if done right, you can stretch your budget pretty far. There are so many things that can be done to make sure you are only spending where you need to. This allows you to have more budget for the things that really matter! In this guide on How to Budget while Traveling Solo, I’ll show you my tips and tricks that allowed me to travel for a full year.
How to Budget While Traveling Solo
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1. Cook Your Meals
Eating out is one of the biggest money eaters when traveling. If you’re visiting an expensive country, you need to pick and choose what’s more important to you. For example, when I visited Italy and Paris, the food was one of the main reasons for visiting. So I ate out most of the time. But in exchange I cut back my budget in other areas, like tours and transportation. When I visited England and Ireland, I didn’t care about the food so I cooked all my meals.
You may be wondering how you cook your meals while traveling. Stay in a hostel or AirBnB! Always research to make sure you’re booking a hostel that has a kitchen or an Airbnb that allows access to the kitchen. Go to a local grocery store and pick up a few things you can eat each day. I suggest yogurt and fruit, PB&J’s, and pasta with chicken. Super cheap and don’t require much prep. *Get $40 towards your first stay when you book through my link – AirBnB.
2. Use Public Transportation
When you’re in a new city, figuring out how to use public transportation can seem daunting. It’s so much easier to just grab a taxi or Uber! And I totally agree. Unfortunately, that spend really adds up and could have been used towards another tour or an extra night’s stay at your hotel. I spent $100 on a taxi from the Sydney airport to my hostel, when a shared van would have only cost me $40, or the train only $15! Sure it takes a bit more research, but saving that much could have allowed me two more nights in Sydney.
There is so much information online, you can easily research public transportation for any city. Or ask the front desk at your accommodation. They’re the experts, they live there! If you’re at an AirBnb, you’re in a great spot because your host will probably provide you this information before you even arrive. Don’t be afraid to ask!
3. Make Friends and Rent a Car
Day tours can get pretty expensive, upwards of $100 usd. If you’re interested in taking a day trip somewhere, see if anyone else in your hostel is interested in going too. It’s a lot cheaper to rent a car for the day and split the price, rather than paying for a guided group tour. If you’re in a country that drives on the left side of the road, try to make friends with an Aussie or Brit! Make sure to bring along snacks and easy to make lunches (PB&J’s) so you don’t have to eat out when you’re there.
4. Go Easy on the Alcohol
Alcohol will put a hole in your wallet real fast. Especially when you’re in countries like Ireland, where one of the main attractions is going to the pub. This is a tough one because when traveling solo, you want to make friends and it’s much easier to do that when alcohol is involved. You might want to set aside a certain budget specifically for alcohol so that you can keep tabs on it.
Here are some ways to stretch your alcohol budget. Buy alcohol from the liquor store and drink in the hostel with your friends. Take advantage of hostels that offer special drink deals at their bar. Limit yourself to one drink when you’re out at an expensive club (you don’t want to be hungover the next day anyways). Drink Red Bull or another energy drink. It’ll get you amped and it’s much cheaper than alcohol. Go on a pub crawl which includes one free drink at every bar. Seriously alcohol will be the hardest thing to budget, so be careful and smart!
5. Visit Cheaper Countries
The best way to stretch your budget is to visit cheap countries. You’ll be able to spend more time here, enjoy eating out more, stay in nicer hotels, and go on more tours. Rule of thumb for long term travel: for every one expensive country you visit, go to 3 cheap countries.
In Europe, some cheap but amazing places to visit are: Croatia, Budapest, Rome, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, and most of Eastern Europe. Most of the southeast Asian countries are insanely cheap. Try Bali, Thailand, The Philippines, and Vietnam. I spent $0.82 usd per meal in Vietnam!
How to Budget While Traveling Solo
These are just five ways to help you stretch your budget, but there are plenty more! Join the newsletter, Society of Solo Travelers, to gain access to weekly lessons, tips, and freebies that will help you plan your first solo trip.
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