Despite the benefits of being a travel writer, it's still expensive to travel as much as I want.
I have to be smart about where, when and how I travel.
Fortunately, over almost four decades of travel, I have learned that almost every destination can be fascinating. Read: When Travel Is the Goal, Not the Destination,
Big cities and small towns, wine tours close to home and hiking trails far away… it can all be great. In my mind, travel is not so much about where you go but how you go. That's why we can still enjoy fantastic travel even if the budget is tight.
Thanks to our readers, we currently have information on exactly 101 countries in our Destinations section and we have information on where to stay in those countries in our Accommodation Guide. The recommendations in these sections are all solo-traveler-tested.
Three Steps for Solo Travel on a Tight Budget
We have a detailed budgeting post here: How to Plan Your Solo Travel Budget – On Any Budget. It works for luxury as well as budget travelers. But if you want to keep things simple and want to find your best budget destination, here are your three basic steps.
A. Decide Where to Go
- No money. If your budget has no room for a plane ticket look around close to home. There are likely cheap and interesting places to visit within an hour of you. And if times are really tough read Embracing the Solo Staycation: When Life Says Don’t Travel.
- Some money. If you have some money for a flight, use Skyscanner's Everwhere button. Basically, instead of putting a city into the destination field of their search box, you put in Everywhere. Their search engine then gives you flights from your airport to destinations all over the world organized from least to most expensive. You decide on the country and city based on your budget. The image and caption below explains how you do this. Next step: Check to see if you can get a better deal. Lately I've found FlightNetwork to be consistently a great source of excellent prices. Check out Trip Planning Resources
B. Find Accommodation Within Your Budget
Depending on where you're going, accommodation could be more expensive than your flight. While our Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide isn't specifically for budget travel, many of the recommendations are budget in nature. With over 200 listings in 65 countries, you'll likely find an accommodation option in your chosen destination that has been recommended by a solo traveler who has gone before you. Also, check out these options:
Free Accommodation: House Sitting Tips for Sitters and Home Owner
Free accommodation: try a home exchange
Sleeping with Strangers: The Hostel Experience
Where to Stay in London: Great Accommodation for Solo Travelers
Budget Accommodation in Kauai: Four Ways to Stay
C. Research How to Get the Most for the Least
Just about everywhere you go there are free options. Once you've worked your budget for getting there, accommodation and a meal allowance, figure out how much you have left for doing things. Find everything you can do for free and then decide where your remaining money is best spent. Also read:
Affordable Paris! 32 Free and Low-cost Tips
Affordable London! 32 free and low-cost tips
Affordable New York City: 32 Free and Low-Cost Tips
Stretch Your Travel Dollar with these 32 Tips
Affordable Dublin: 32 Free and Low-Cost Tips
Affordable Kauai – 32 Free and Low-Cost Tips
Affordable Sydney: 32 Free & Low-Cost Tips
That's it. Follow this ABC of choosing a destination based on flight and accommodation cost then add in your cost on the ground and you've put together a basic solo travel budget.