I think that everyone should travel alone at some point in their life. Doesn’t matter if you are male, female, singled, married, old, or young. You should travel alone. Not only is it exhilarating and challenging but you also learn so much about yourself.
If you’re heading out for the first time alone, or simply thinking about it you may be wondering, is solo travel more expensive? Over the past two years, I’ve solo traveled to a ton of different countries so here are my best tips to help you save money when traveling alone.
No More Single Supplement Fees
In the past, when booking a group trip you would almost always see a single supplement fee if you were traveling alone. While this is not completely gone you are seeing it less and less. Big companies, like G Adventures and Intrepid Travel, are leading the way and beginning to drop these fees altogether. This is because of the steep rise of solo travel, and specifically female solo travel, in recent years. Many smaller companies are following suit and we have almost reached a point where these fees are a thing of the past.
Do be aware you may have to share a room with another traveler when taking these trips. But, the tour companies are doing a great job matching up like-minded solo travelers together so you can room with someone you are more comfortable with.
Cruise Lines Are Getting in The Solo Travel Game
Another great way to save money when traveling alone is by checking out cruise lines that cater specifically to solo travelers. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian both offer cabins specifically designed for solo travelers, while Holland America has a new program to match up solo travelers of the same sex who want to share the cost of a double room.
Cruises make a good first trip for new solo travelers. A built-in daily schedule and planned activities make it easier to meet people or simply get used to traveling alone. Certain cruise lines also offer special activities for solo and single travelers.
Hostels Are Made For Solo Travelers
Hostels charge per bed, making it perfect for solo travel. Not only is it safe and an easy way to make friends on the road, it is also extremely cheap. If you are creating your own itinerary, then I definitely recommend staying at a hostel. HostelWorld is one of the best websites for booking.
Just because hostels are cheaper than traditional hotels in most cities doesn’t mean they are purely budget accommodations. Upscale hostels (that are clean, comfy and furnished far trendier than some 5-star hotels) are very popular, especially in the big cities of Europe. You’ll also find communal kitchens in most hostels which help you save money on food while you travel.
If you’re worried about getting a good night sleep – remember that hostels are generally full of people that are pretty considerate of others. It may be a good idea to pack earplugs and a face mask just in case though.
Don’t Discount AirBnb’s
Another alternative to hotels or hotels is booking with Airbnb. Even full apartments on the site, are generally cheaper than a hotel room and again, having a kitchen equals a lot of savings. You can share a house on Airbnb and simply rent a room to yourself (no roommates required).
Activities When Traveling Alone
Walking around a city alone may get lonely after a while. Look into free walking tours in your destination. Big cities have tons of free walking tours but do fill up quickly, so a huge advantage to traveling alone is that you can join on last minute. Also, not only do these tours save you money but you will also meet a bunch of people who are traveling through as well.
Another great advantage of traveling alone is the ability to buy last-minute theater tickets. Single seats, in the middle of the rows, are hard to sell. If you head to the box office the day of the show, you can usually score these tickets for a fraction of the price.
How to Stay Safe When Traveling Alone
The first time I traveled solo I was absolutely nervous, and to be 100% honest, those nerves never really go away. Every time I get on a flight by myself, the same couple of questions run through my mind. What if I can’t figure out something on my own? What if I get hurt? Will I be lonely?
The first thing you should know is everyone has these feelings. And the truth is most of us are faking confidence, and not only are we faking it we are radiating this fake confidence to everyone we meet. Yes, the longer I travel alone the more confidence I gain, but until I am back in the solo travel mindset I simply fake it.
Another reason you want to project (even fake) confidence is because solo women who look lost or confused may attract the wrong kind of attention. Walk the streets confidently as if you know where you are going but, don’t mistake your confidence for cockiness or carelessness. If you need help ask for it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Most locals – and fellow travelers – are more than willing to lend a hand. Don’t follow anyone on the street if they offer to walk you home. Instead, try and find a coffee shop or restaurant to ask for help. Take your time getting directions and once you leave put that confident walk back on.
Book Travel Carefully – Arrive During the Day
When you’re booking your flight, plan to land during the day. At night everything just feels sketchier – even if it isn’t. It is also harder to get a cab at night or take money out of airport ATMs. But, If you have to land at night, I suggest booking a trusted transport service to meet you at the gate.
Sightsee During the Day
When I’m traveling alone I mostly wander and explore the area during daylight hours. Once sunset begins, I find a restaurant or bar near my hostel/Airbnb/hotel. And I mean really close, like literally across the street. This makes it easier to enjoy my food without rushing, make friends with other travelers and locals around me, and maybe even have a beer.
Drinking When Traveling Alone
Speaking of alcohol, be careful traveling solo and drinking. I’m not saying you can’t drink – but you shouldn’t be drinking to get drunk! We all know getting drunk makes you more vulnerable and it encourages you to make dumb decisions. Stick to nursing one drink over dinner. If you choose to go out, drink water and lime all night.
There is nothing worse for a solo traveler than sticking out. Before you leave, make sure you research what locals wear. If they tend to dress modestly you should pack longer skirts and cardigans. If locals stick to a black and grey color scheme, leave your red dress at home.
Before you leave, give friends or family at home an idea of how often you will be checking in. Although you may be looking forward to being alone and excited to fully enjoy your freedom think about your safety. Don’t feel bad, or childish, sending a parent, partner, or close friend an “in for the night” text message every single day. You may also want to consider switching to an international phone plan that at least includes text messaging if not some data.
Will You Get Lonely Traveling Alone
This is the question I get most often when I tell people I travel alone. In my opinion, this is an enormous no. Traveling alone isn’t lonely at all. In fact, I find that more people strike up a conversation with me when I travel alone. It’s so much easier for someone to talk to one person sitting alone and I find that people simply want to know your story! Why are you traveling alone? How long are you traveling alone?
If you do think you will get lonely, stay at a hostel where it’s easier to make friends. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with your server if you’re sitting at a restaurant. Mostly though, remember to put your phone down. Nowadays many people use their phone as a defense mechanism to shield themselves from looking alone or lonely. When you put your phone down you will be surprised at what happens next.
Cancellation fees can sometimes be avoided! I’ll be giving you my top tips for dealing with a sudden change in travel plans.
Be sure to follow on Mint and follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss an article.