More and more people are choosing to travel solo. Because this type of travel requires the traveler to plan and pay for everything, a clearer picture of what a trip of the 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 incorporated many travel planning and money saving tips I would like to share with my readership.
First, is how do you turn a "Dream Destination into a Solo Trip Reality?" The genesis of most travel adventures start with a desire to get away, to escape and 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. The following are my suggestions for making a solo trip dream come true. Astrid's Solo Trip Planning Tips:
- 1)Buy a Travel Journal - Log all travel ideas and thoughts in your journal
- 2)Target Place or Places You Want to Visit - Make a Master Bucket List
- 3)Yearly Destination Selection - What are you in the mood for travel wise and what is your travel budget? Travel dates and Trip length?
- 4)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
- 5)Create a Destination Master "To Do List" - What you want to Do, See, Eat, Buy, etc.
- 6)Develop a Pre-Trip Budget - Download the Astrid Solo Travel Advisor Trip Planning Budget. Create a Savings Plan if needed
- 7)Book Flights and Accommodations - Seek to book during the "prime booking window."
- 8)Draft a Trip Daily Itinerary - Destination Must Do's and Want to Do's and develop an Trip Itinerary Map 8) Pre-Trip Home Planning Activities
- 9) Go!
- 10)Solo Trip Recap
My trip schematic seems like a lot to accomplish, which it is, but in order to create a memorable solo trip adventure. I believe it is imperative that you go through these steps as thoroughly as possible. For the last 15 years, I have developed an annual travel journal that 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. I highly recommend partaking in this practice. It has saved me time, money and kept me focused on what is important when solo traveling.
Second, now for some specific 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, 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:
- 1)Ticket Sales depend on supply and demand - less supply=more demand which drives prices up.
- 2)Peak Travel Seasons - book earlier than normal during these times
- 3)Best Time to Purchase and Book Tickets Weekly - Tuesday 3PM(EST)
- 4)Cheapest Days to Fly during the Week - Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday
- 5)Most Expensive Days to Fly during the Week - Friday and Sunday
- 6)Cheapest Flights during the Day - First flight out, Lunch hour and after Dinner flights
- 7)Cheaper to Fly out of Big Cities
- 8)Use Travel Aggregator Websites such as Kayak, Expedia or Skyscanner for flight cost comparisons.
- 9)Sign up for Price Alerts
- 9)Use Frequent Flier Points for long haul flights, especially for Business class fares
- 10)Consider Low Cost Airlines such as WOW, Norwegian Air, Spirit or Ryan Air
- 11)Consider Premium Economy in lieu of Business Class
- 12)Don't Hesitate - when you find a fare your are comfortable with, buy it immediately.
Money Saving Domestic Plane Ticket Tips:
- 1)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% 2)Best Price - 54 days in advance.
Money Saving International Plane Ticket Tips:
- 1)As a general rule book your ticket 90 days in advance 2)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, Carribean - 76 days out, Middle East - 119 days out, Asia - 90 days out.
Third, similar to when booking airline tickets, accommodation costs fluxuate 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 when securing my lodging for a solo trip.
Money Saving Accommodations Tips:
- 1)Check room rates 40 days out - Book 30 days out
- 2)Last minute rates can be at rock bottom - 6pm the night before is prime
- 3)3 Months out - the most expensive rates
- 4)Where you are traveling to 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
- 5)Non-refundable room reservations are the least expensive but be sure to buy travel insurance
- 6)Peak Travel Times, Holidays, Festivals or Business Conventions drive up room prices
- 7)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
- 8)Call the Hotel directly to bargain for lower rates
- 9)New hotels have some of the best room prices
- 10)Resort Hotels are cheaper during the week and Business Hotels are less expensive during the weekend
- 11)Use Hotel Booking websites such as Booking.com, Expedia.com and TripAdvisor.com for cost comparisons
- 12)Sign up for Price Alerts
- 13)AirBnB prices don't fluxuate
Last, don't forget all of the things you need to do before you leave home. A good checklist will help you not forget something critical that 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:
- 1)Required Health Immunizations and Trip Health Information - 2 months out
- 2)Purchase Trip Insurance - Purchase travel insurance when you book your airfare, accommodations, cruise or tour
- 3)Secure Required Visas and confirm your Passport is valid 6 months after you return home - 6 weeks out minimum
- 4)Enroll in TSA Pre Check and Global Fast Entry Programs- 2 months out
- 5)Arrange for personal bills to be paid if needed - 2 weeks out
- 6)Secure Pet Boarding and Care if needed - 2 weeks out
- 7) Check your Destination's weather and pack; International travel - 2 weeks out and domestic travel - 7 to 5 days out
- 8)Alert Bank and Credit Card companies of International travel - 1 week out. Also, get your cash needed for the trip
- 9)Stop mail and newspaper delivery - 1 week out
- 10)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
- 11)Flight check in - 1 day out
- 12)Check the Traffic Advisory and Leave Early for the Airport; Domestic Flights - Check in 1 1/2 hours early and for International Flights - Check in 3 hours early
Planning and Saving money for a solo trip can be challenging but the better you 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. Make it your routine practice to incorporate my money saving planning strategies and I bet you will be glad you did.
As always, I value your comments and questions. Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below. To stay up-to-date on all of the Astrid Solo Travel Advisor's travel tips, affordable luxury ideas, products and services follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. To get these tips and the behind-the-scenes look at my recent trips, sign up for our monthly newsletter.