The most common bucket list item: traveling the world. A lot of people have told me how much they wish they could travel like me. Whenever I ask them, “Then why don’t you?”
Their answers have always been, “Because it’s so expensive.”
I’m puzzled every time I hear that answer. There is a misconception that travel is for the extremely wealthy. Sure, it’s true if you want to fly first class and stay in luxury resorts, but if you don’t live that kind of lifestyle at home, then why do you think you need to live like that while traveling?
Traveling is not as expensive as you think it is. Trust me. I managed to survive nearly a week in London, the most expensive city in the world, with only about £55. I know, impressive right?
Let’s start out with the most important part.
If you live in the USA like me, then the only way you can go anywhere is to fly (or drive for a really, really, long time if you’re traveling within the country). From experience, multi-destination flights have been about the same price or sometimes even cheaper than round-trip flights. If you are thinking of doing a multi-stop international trip, I highly suggest AirTreks. You get a Personal Travel Consultant who helps you find the cheapest fare possible for your custom dream trip. They also follow up on you right before and after your trip!
If you don’t want to do a multi-destination trip, check out airfarewatchdog for round-trip flights and be sure to sign up for their fare alerts. They email you a list of deals from your departure city. Their emails are the emails I look forward to the most! Following them on Twitter is even better. They tweet their incredible fare finds everyday and sometimes the deals are gone within a few hours. If you want to be able to snatch up a great deal, you need to be fast! It also helps to have a flexible schedule.
This can sometimes be the most expensive part if you stick with hotels. The cheaper option is to stay in hostels. My favorite site for looking up hostels is HostelBookers. I especially love the “show map” option so I can see where all the hostels are located in the city. I prefer walking since that’s free, so I tend to choose hostels that are centrally located to my areas of interest.
For hotels, I like to go on Hotels.com. They have a loyalty program called “Welcome Rewards.” If you collect 10 nights, you get one free. FREE. Be sure to spoil yourself by redeeming that free stay at a nice hotel.
I also love checking out Airbnb. You can rent an extra room or even their entire home from a local host. Most hosts will give you neighborhood tips on where to go and where to eat. This is a great way to live like a local instead of feeling like a tourist.
If you’re looking for an even cheaper option, you can’t get any cheaper than free with CouchSurfing. Locals offer their homes free of charge to travelers. Of course, free sounds too good to be true, so be sure to review a host’s profile carefully and read reviews that other travelers have left about them. Safety is more important than saving a few bucks. If you’re like me, a woman traveling alone, it’s best to stay with female hosts or hosts with families.
My personal favorite: walking! It’s free and you’ll learn your way around a new city much faster.
Avoid taxis if you can. They are expensive, especially if you are traveling alone. Public transportation in Europe and Asia take you everywhere! No need for taxis.
Public transportation in the US is not as advanced as Europe and Asia, so if you are traveling within the US, it’s probably best to rent a car. Check out Turo, which is like Airbnb for cars. It’s peer-to-peer car rentals, so not only can you save money, but you can help someone else make money. Who knows, maybe you can even find your dream car to drive around while on vacation.
It’s pretty cheap to travel from country to country in Europe. You can either take a train or fly on a budget airline. One problem though: you are limited to one piece of luggage. If you have more than that, you probably won’t have room to store it in the train or you’d have to check in your bag for an extra fee if you’re flying, so keep all the unnecessary items at home! Have trouble figuring out what you absolutely need to bring or how to pack light? Head towards my article about Travel Must-Haves.
There you have it. These are my secrets to solo budget traveling. I already did the trial and errors for you so you don’t have to go through them. You don’t have an excuse anymore, so get out there and check off your own bucket list!
Do you have a website you recommend for finding travel related deals? If so, please share!
You can follow me on Instagram @dianajlee or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org