Solo Adventures: Budget travel guide
Solo Adventures: Budget travel guide
Going solo is the perfect way to take a quick trip focused on personal interests. However, keeping a tight budget takes some planning finesse, so we’ve done the legwork for you. Here is how to plan a budget trip.
Keeping Flights Low-Cost
First, acquaint yourself with the budget airlines available from airports nearest you. Readers in the Kaiserslautern area have both Ryanair and Wizz Air available from Hahn airport and Aerlingus and Condor from Frankfurt. Those stationed in Stuttgart or Bavaria can take advantage of Ryanair and Wizz Air flights from Memmingen, Karlsruhe and Nuremberg, Eurowings from Stuttgart, and Aerlingus, Condor or Norwegian from Munich.
Visiting the Wikipedia page for your local airport is also a great way to get ideas of where to go. It has a list of passenger airlines and their destinations. Direct flights will be the cheapest and best use of your time.
Another way to keep within a tight budget is to go during the off or shoulder season. Summer is peak season in Europe, while prices fall dramatically in mid-September. Regardless of when you want to travel, book ahead as far as possible to get the best rates. Discount airlines advertise super low fares and sales months in advance, and prices increase as the flights fill.
Packing light is another way to keep airfare low. Budget carriers charge extra for frills like overhead space or checked bags and seat choices. For a quick weekend trip, make it a goal to use a small backpack that fits under the seat. Wearing a layered outfit while packing one other interchangeable outfit, plus a one-quart toiletry bag can be sufficient for a few days. Skip choosing a seat; the airline will assign you one during check-in; save that money for food or activities during the trip.
Finding Budget-Friendly Lodging
Hotel prices vary wildly in Europe; 50€ only buys a bunk in Oslo but an apartment in Vilnius. Try to find a hostel near the sightseeing so it’s easy to walk or take public transportation. Taxis are budget killers. In addition, download a Google map of the area before leaving to help with navigation. It is ideal to book a room that includes breakfast; a slightly more expensive place with breakfast will end up saving you money on food later.
- Booking.com is an excellent website (and app) for finding hotels, vetted hostels and apartment stays. The search function is straightforward, and results can be sorted by cost and viewed on a map. The total cost, not nightly rates, are listed, making for quick budget evaluations.
- Hostelworld.com is a great website for finding hostels. Hostels nowadays are a combination of basic private rooms and dorm-style accommodations. They typically include bed linen, privacy curtains, and locker space beside the bunk. They are a fun place to meet other frugal travelers in communal leisure spaces. Some have age restrictions requiring older adults or people with children to book private rooms.
It’s also ideal to book a hotel or hostel that includes breakfast; a slightly more expensive place with breakfast will end up saving you money on food later.
Eating Out on the Cheap
Dinner can be daunting for budget solo travelers, so many hostels offer cheap meal options in their own restaurants. Fast food is also available, but trying the local fare can be the highlight of a trip. Try going out for lunch as costs are lower at midday, then grab a picnic for dinner. It is also fine to order just an appetizer or drink when sitting at the bar of most restaurants and pubs; no reservation required.
The grocery store is every budget traveler’s friend. Stock your backpack with picnic items like sandwich essentials or hummus and vegetables so you can enjoy a meal in a city park. Bring a reusable bottle to avoid paying for water. For a die-hard foodie the local grocery market is a great place to try local produce, baked goods, meats and cheeses at a fraction of restaurant costs.
Avoiding the high cost of food and drinks at convenience stores is a good idea. However, some offer sandwich, sushi, or salad meal deals that are a cost savings.
Staying frugal with food, lodging and flights will allow you to travel more frequently or splurge on once-in-lifetime activities.
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