Solo Travel: A Single Girl’s Guide to Keeping Travel Cheap
Being single carries added expense (You can read about this here: The Hidden Financial Costs of Being Single). Solo travel makes it even more expensive, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to your solo adventure. Here I’ve compiled my money saving travel tips.
The first step is choosing your destination and finding cheap flights.
I have so many tips on this that I’ve written a whole post about finding cheap flights (you can read it here: Solo Travel: A Single Girl’s Guide to Finding Cheap Flights) I’d strongly encourage you to read it but if you just don’t have the time my 2 top tips are using Easyjet and Jack’s Flight Club as both have great features to help you get cheap flights. Jack’s Flight Club is free to sign up to and they send you weekly emails with cheap flights, if you haven’t already you can sign up here.
Getting to the airport in time for your flight.
Too many times I have seen people forget to factor this into their holiday costs. People get sucked in by a cheap flight, ignoring that th airport is further away or costs 3 times the amount to get to, often cancelling out the original saving altogether. Make sure you also research coach/train tickets to AND from the airport into your total travel cost when comparing flights.
This is also often the case with early morning flights. These flights are generally cheaper because it’s such an undesirable time, meaning the opportunity for a good deal. However, public transport doesn’t always run this early. This can leave you with the usually more expensive option of driving and parking at the airport, or getting a hotel nearby. Find out how much these would cost before you choose to get an early flight. 50% of the time you’ll probably find it doesn’t actually work out cheaper at all.
If you are travelling by train you can make sure you get the best deal by doing some research. If you’re going outside peak times and you look 4–8 weeks before travel you can get advance train tickets for many routes, giving you the cheapest ticket. This is great for getting to the airport but less ideal for the way back in case your flight is delayed.
If it’s a long route using more than one train line then there are usually deals to be found. The virgin trains website gives you an option to find the cheapest tickets available, but you can also try splitting your ticket or forcing a particular route (that may have a differently priced ticket) through the via/avoid options on the advanced search.
Be prepared for your flight.
Bring snacks for the flight! This way you can avoid the overpriced airport food, plus you know you have something you enjoy that fits your dietary requirements. Just remember to make sure it’s not something with liquid in the middle and you have enough food for the duration of your flight so you don’t get tempted to buy something onboard!
Unfortunately you can’t quite do this with a drink due to the 100ml limit, but you can bring a water bottle (or two!). Once through security you can then refill your water bottles. Frustratingly lots of airports don’t make it clear where you can fill bottles (they want you to spend money after all!) but you can search it online in advance to find out where the water refill points are in a number of airports and often staff at cafes will fill a water bottle for you too.
When abroad you need the local currency. Unfortunately the strength of the pound is ever yo-yoing and is not as good as it has been in the past so it’s even more important that you get a good deal.
Firstly think about how much money you are likely to need on your holiday and add a little extra for contingency. Lots of people make the mistake of getting out too much money. This can lead to you spending too much on holiday or be left with unused currency. In principle this isn’t a problem, but buyback rates aren’t as high, so you will lose some value of the money.
If you do have leftover currency it is still worth changing it back though. I’ve seen too many people who spend leftover money at the airport because they can’t be bothered to change it back. If you don’t want to make the effort just hold onto it and change it back next time you go to get foreign currency. (Or if it’s currency you’re likely to use again in he future, just keep it. That’s what I do with dollars and euros).
Once you’ve established how much you need, you need to get a good exchange rate. Money Saving Expert has a good tool for comparison and I tend to find that No1 Currency offers the best rate. Remember it is almost always going to be cheaper to book ahead online, so don’t forget to do this!
As well as cash, don’t forget that pretty much everywhere else in the World uses card too. That doesn’t mean you should just use yours. For fear of running out of the currency on holiday I have seen people use their card for purchases, without thinking about the added costs of doing so.
I strongly suggest you get a credit card specifically for using abroad. It means you’re carrying less cash around, have a back up if you need more money and get the best exchange rates. The reason that you need a specific card for foreign transactions is because most cards/banks charge you a fee for use with foreign currency. But it’s easy to avoid using the right card and is an easy fix to avoid paying more than you should.
There are several prepay options available where you can put a certain amount of money or a certain currency onto the card which may suit you. Personally I prefer a normal credit card that has no fees as it’s more flexible- I’d highly recommend Halifax (Clarity Card) for that. Just don’t forget that being rejected for a credit card or applying for too much credit in a short amount of time will affect your credit score, so think carefully about that first!
It may seem like an unnecessary cost, but it’s really important. Use a comparison site to compare the best deals for you. If you know you’re going to go away more than once in the year then look for multi trip annual cover, it usually works out cheaper that way. Just don’t forget to not let it auto renew and look around each year for the best deals.
Saving money on the holiday
Everyone does their holidays differently. But if you’re here you probably want to know how to make your holiday as cheap as possible, it’s a post about cheap travel after all! So here’s some suggestions on how to make it cheaper each day.
Food in capital cities especially will always be pricy. The easiest way to save money here is to eat out less. This doesn’t have to be more work on your part. You can go to a supermarket when you get to your destination and buy key ingredients to make meals, you can even pack staples from home (like pasta or wraps etc) to make it cheaper. If you don’t have cooking facilities you can still make the most of the supermarkets. Buying lunch from supermarkets will be cheaper than restaurants and the cafes at the tourist destinations. If you do this for every lunch over a week’s holiday you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money, and it won’t lost you a lot of time either! I also pack cereal bars with me to have for breakfasts and snacks throughout the day, saving both time and money!
Don’t get pulled into all of the tourist activities advertised to you. Sometimes it is worth paying for these, they are experts for a reason! But many of them will be activities you can do by yourself at a fraction of the cost. The best way to find out is to do some research. Trip Advisor is great for this, as well as general internet searches, to see what others think of the excursion, but also to research how to see/ do what you’d like to do. For example, there are a lot of companies that, for a hefty fee, will take you to good spots to see the Northern Lights. But, depending on where you are staying, you can use public transport or walk to get to a good spot to see them, and the internet is heavy on suggestions of good places to view them from. For a big group this would save you hundreds of pounds!
There are also often ‘City Passes’ that will save you money on excursions and activities for the city you are visiting. These can be hugely beneficial and cost effective, but you MUST check the cost of all of the attractions you would visit and check that it still works out cheaper. It’s common for these to not save you money if you only plan on visiting 2 or 3 of the attractions.
The key to saving money is putting time into researching.
This doesn’t have to be massively time consuming as a lot of people will have done the work for you. Make sure to look at travel blogs as well as review and information sites as often they will have answered the questions you have.
Have any money saving travel tips? Please add them in the comments.