Are you looking to tick off a bucket list holiday or perhaps you’re a first time solo traveler and you’re looking to save just enough to trial a shorter, closer to home solo travel holiday? Here’s some tips on how to budget for your next solo trip.
If you’re anything like me, I somehow manage to find money every year to indulge in travel, even if I haven’t planned a specific trip. But let’s be honest, the smarter thing to do is work out if you prefer to choose your next holiday experience & save up for it – this is what I like to call the Bucketlist Traveller; or create the habit of allocating a travel budget each year ensuring that you put money aside each pay day for your getaways, so whatever travel opportunities present themselves you have the savings to say yes, I’ll go! – this is what I refer to as the Frequent Traveller.
The Bucket List Traveller
You may have a bucket list of travel destinations that you’d like to see during your lifetime and you know that each one is going to cost you a certain amount of money. A great example of this might be that you would love to experience an expedition cruise in Antarctica. Now this is not a cheap holiday and is most likely going to cost you something around $20,000, or more. Most of us will need to plan and save up big to be able to do this trip, so how do you budget for this type of holiday?
- Many bucket list experiences have limited travel windows meaning there is less chance of non-peak or shoulder seasons however my first recommendation is that you research this and if you can travel in the shoulder season without sacrificing on the experience, then do so. I know for a trip I was looking at to Antarctica, it meant a saving of 50% by going in shoulder season versus peak season, that’s a saving of over $6,000!
- Book early to take advantage of early bird booking offers. Most companies offer these types of deals and it can save you up to 20%, and quite often you will receive additional bonus inclusions. Most of the time, you will only be required to pay a deposit so you can secure the best deal and still pay it off over a few months, if not longer
- As it is highly likely that you’ll book this type of holiday months in advance (maybe even a year or more), be sure to keep an eye on the exchange rate of the country you will be visiting. Be ready to convert some currency when the exchange rate is in your favour so that by the time you are ready to go, you have most of your spending already converted and at the best possible exchange rate. This alone can save your hundreds of dollars
The Frequent Traveller
I fall into the ‘frequent traveller’ category in that I tend to travel more cost effectively but frequently. Having said that it doesn’t mean that I haven’t had some bucket list experiences including a week on the Amalfi Coast in beautiful seaside accommodation, taken to the skies in a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and enjoyed a very overpriced cocktail in the rooftop Aqua bar in Kowloon, Hong Kong.
For the frequent traveller, you are more inclined to allocate funds each year for travel – this may be anything from $1,000 to $10,000 (or more if you’re lucky enough) and it is likely that you travel more than once a year whether it’s a number of shorter duration trips or a combination of a mini vacay closer to home with a longer overseas getaway.
Here’s 5 ways to budget as a frequent traveller going solo:
- If you don’t have your heart set on specific destination and you are open to travelling to wherever you can get a good deal, keep your eye out for a great airfare offer and let this determine your holiday destination this year
- Bonus tip: you are very likely to get great deals on sale fares to the U.S. and Europe in October, November, January and February (that is the ‘on sale’ date, not the travel dates)
- Determine a realistic and manageable annual travel budget and stick to it. Depending on what other financial commitments you have you need to be able to determine a manageable travel budget and if need be, flex up and down each year depending upon your commitments… and travel goals. You may need to forego travel for a year or two if you are looking to tick off a bucket list holiday
- Save on accommodation so you have more money for experiences. Unless I am looking to stay in a resort for a week, I am more than happy to stay in a 3 – 4 star hotel or an Airbnb if it means I have more money to get out and see the destination. You may also choose to spend what you’ve saved on accommodation to splurge on something special. On my first trip to New York, I bought myself a little piece of jewellery from Tiffanys on 5th Avenue, and I still have it today over 10 years later (& I still love it)
- Choose destinations that are cheap once you get there. Believe it or not there are still countries where you can live cheaply once you get there. Two of my favourites are Vietnam and Cambodia. Not only is accommodation very reasonable, the actual cost of food (& alcohol) is extraordinarily reasonable and travel options including attractions, local tours and transport are also good value
- Pick a holiday where most of it is included in the upfront cost – this may be a tour, an inclusive resort stay or wellness retreat. It may appear that it’s more expensive initially however by the time you consider meals, transport, accommodation and any included attractions and activities, it will work out quite cost-effective AND you’re able to be confident on the total cost of your holiday (no budget blowouts). Knowing the majority of your trip has been paid for before you even leave home can be a great relief if you want to really watch your spending