More and more people are choosing to travel solo. Because this type of travel requires the traveler to plan and pay for everything, a clear picture of what a trip of this kind will entail is needed before most people go solo. As an avid solo traveler for over 40 years and now as a luxury solo travel blogger, I have developed many travel planning and money saving tips I would like to share with my readership.
Turning a Dream Destination into a Solo Trip Reality
First, is how do you turn a "Dream Destination into a Solo Trip Reality?" The genesis of most solo travel adventures start with a desire to get away, to escape or explore. Whether it's a beautiful photo of a beach, a friend's shared experience of a wonderful time in Paris or anything that triggers your desire to travel, most solo excursions have their origin in some type of inspiration. The following are my suggestions for making a solo trip dream come true.
Astrid's Solo Trip Planning Tips
Buy a Travel Journal.
Log all travel ideas and thoughts in your journal. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t forget anything.
Make a Master Bucket List
Start prioritizing your favorite destinations.
Choose your destination.
Choosing a place to cross off your bucket list is harder than it sounds. To make it easier, ask yourself:
What are you in the mood for travel wise? Adventure? Relaxation?
What is your travel budget?
When will you go? For how long?
Research, Research, Research
The more the better! Read travel guides and travel magazines, search the internet for insightful travel articles by bloggers, travel writers or travel websites. Watch as many Youtube Destination Videos as possible and listen to Travel Podcasts like Solo Travel Talk.
Create a Destination Specific To Do List
What are your must-see sights?
Which activities do you really want to do.
Do you want to take any tours?
Any restaurants you can’t miss?
Is there anything you want to buy?
Develop a Pre-Trip Budget
Download the Astrid Solo Travel Advisor Trip Planning Budget Guide here. Create a Savings Plan if needed.
Book Your Flights and Accommodations
Seek to book during the "prime booking window." (discussed below)
Draft a Trip Daily Itinerary
Begin to gain a rough estimate of how each day will pan out.
If it helps, start pinning destinations on Google Maps so you can get an idea of where things are, and what things you might be able to do in a single day.
Get your home life in order before you go.
You’re going to have to think ahead.
If you live alone, stop your mail or get someone to collect it for you. Make any arrangement for pets or children.
Will any bills come due while you are away? Take care of those
Once you return, take time to reflect on your trip.
It is my belief that solo traveling is about so much more than traveling. It teaches you about yourself and the world in very impactful, sometimes deeply meaningful ways. It’s easy to loose touch with the feelings and lessons you experienced while traveling once you return home, but writing things down and taking time to reflect will help you really absorb what you experienced.
My trip schematic seems like a lot to accomplish, which it is, but in order to create a memorable solo trip these are the steps I believe are imperative that you go through as thoroughly as possible. For the last 15 years, I have developed an annual travel journal in which I log in all of my solo trips, pre-trip research, trip logistics, itineraries, daily observations and thoughts, as well as, post-trip follow up notes and revelations. I highly recommend partaking in this practice. It has saved me time, money and kept me focused on what is important when solo traveling.
Solo Travel Planning Money Saving Tips
The two biggest hard cost expenses of any trip are your airfare and your lodging. When you book these, your travel dates, as well as supply and demand factors all play into the price of these two big ticket items. Many travel experts have shared their beliefs on how to save money in these items. The following are the strategies I use.
General Money Saving Plane Ticket Tips:
Ticket Sales depend on supply and demand - less supply = more demand which drives prices up.
Book earlier than normal during peak travel seasons
Best Day of the Week and time to Purchase Tickets : Tuesday 3PM(EST)
Cheapest Days to Fly during the Week - Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday
Most Expensive Days to Fly during the Week - Friday and Sunday
Cheapest Flights during the Day - First flight out, Lunch hour and after Dinner flights
It is generally cheaper to fly out of big cities.
Use Travel Aggregator Websites such as Kayak, Expedia or Skyscanner for flight cost comparisons.
Sign up for Price Alerts
Use Frequent Flier Points for long haul flights, especially for Business class fares
Consider Low Cost Airlines such as WOW, Norwegian Air, Spirit or Ryan Air
Consider Premium Economy in lieu of Business Class
Consider a stopover deal. You might be able to visit two travel destinations for the price of one. Find out what a stopover is and how it works in this podcast.
Don't Hesitate! When you find a fare your are comfortable with, buy it immediately.
Booking Domestic Flights:
Booking too early is as bad as booking too late.
6 Months in advance - ticket price 20% higher
Three months prior - prices start dropping
3-7 weeks out prices are their lowest
Last week - prices increase by 25%.
Therefore, the best price is about 50 days in advance.
Booking International Flights:
As a general rule book your ticket 90 days in advance.
Different Destinations - Different Booking Dates
Europe - 99 days out
Mexico - 66 days out
Central America - 66 days out
South America - 81 days out
Africa - 119 days out
Caribbean - 76 days out
Middle East - 119 days out
Asia - 90 days out.
Similar to booking airline tickets, accommodation costs fluctuate depending on several key factors such as supply and demand, your destination, dates you are traveling and when you book your reservation. Likewise, booking your room too early is not smart. The following are my strategies I use to secure luxury accommodations that are affordable for a solo trip.
Money Saving Accommodation Tips:
Check room rates 40 days out - Book 30 days out
Last minute rates can be at rock bottom prices - 6pm the night before is prime. Just know that waiting this long is a gamble!
The most expensive rates tend to be 3 months out
Your destination affects the best time to Book
Spain: 4- 5 weeks out
France: 2- 5 weeks out
Italy: 3-6 weeks out
Germany: 3- 4 weeks out
Non-refundable room reservations are the least expensive but be sure to buy travel insurance
Peak Travel Times, Holidays, Festivals or Business Conventions drive up room prices
Hotels review their bookings 90/60/30/15/14/1 day out - Room rates will go up or down depending on the amount of paid reservations on these days
Consider calling the hotel directly to bargain for lower rates
New hotels have some of the best room prices
Resort hotels are cheaper during the week and business hotels are less expensive during the weekend
Sign up for price alerts
AirBnB prices can fluctuate depending on the time of year, season, local events, etc.
Develop a Pre-Trip Budget
Create a pre-trip budget before you leave so you can have a rough estimate on what your solo excursion will cost and that you can compare it with once you return home. Trip budgeting is one of the most unpleasant but necessary things a solo traveler should do to not squander a lot of money. When you know where you stand money wise before, during and after a trip you should be able to manage your expenditures and stay within your perceived costs much easier.
Astrid Solo Travel Advisor Trip Budget Guide
Home Planning Pre-Trip Activities
As briefly mentioned, don't forget all of the things you need to do before you leave home. A good checklist will prevent you from forgetting something critical which could end up ruining your trip or causing you un-necessary stress. See below my To Do List and the cutoff dates when your need to have certain things done before you leave on a solo adventure.
Pre-Trip To Do List:
Gather required Health Immunizations and Trip Health Information - 2 months out
Purchase Trip Insurance - Purchase travel insurance when you book your airfare, accommodations, cruise or tour
Secure Required Visas and confirm your Passport is valid 6 months after you return home - 6 weeks out minimum
Enroll in TSA Pre Check and Global Fast Entry Programs- 2 months out
Arrange for personal bills to be paid if needed - 2 weeks out
Secure Pet Boarding and Care if needed - 2 weeks out
Check your Destination's weather and pack; International travel - 2 weeks out and domestic travel - 7 to 5 days out
Alert Bank and Credit Card companies of International travel - 1 week out. Also, get your cash needed for the trip
Stop mail and newspaper delivery - 1 week out
Make copies of your Passport, Hotel and Flight reservations, Itinerary, Credit and Debit card information. Hide one copy in your carryon and give one copy to a family member or friend - 1 week out
Flight check in - 1 day out
Check the Traffic Advisory and Leave Early for the Airport; Domestic Flights - Check in 1.5 hours early and for International Flights - Check in 3 hours early
Planning and saving money for a solo trip can be challenging but the more you plan and prepare before you leave the better your trip will be. Like anything in life that ends up being successful, good habits are usually at the foundation of the success. Financial discipline is a wise practice for the solo traveler. Make it your routine practice to incorporate my money saving planning strategies and I bet you will be glad you did.
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Author: Astrid Clements
Astrid Solo Travel Advisor CEO and founder, Astrid, has spent over 40 years traveling around the world. She is passionate about embracing the world’s diverse cultures and sharing with others the global need and personal benefit of cultural literacy. Her focus is on affordable luxury travel that is both substantive and fun! To read more about her and each one of our Solo Travel Advisors, head over to the About page!