Planning a solo budget travel trip.

Planning a solo budget travel trip but fed up irreverent and detached information?…

Before we go any further though, I need to stress this is not another ‘ultimate guide to planning a solo budget travel‘ or ‘my way of planning a solo budget travel trip is perfect‘ post.

I am in no way the perfect planner but I’ve managed to roam the world since 2010 without any major issues or trouble.

Planning a solo budget travel trip

Starting as a wide-eyed backpacker, I saw, did, experienced, drank (a lot), learnt, grew (not in height), got most the T-shirts and learnt so much. Everything in this post is how I’ve evolved and streamlined my planning over the years of being a solo budget traveler and they may help you in planning a solo budget travel trip.


Planning a solo budget trip but not sure where to start? Have you gone out bought your world map and stuck pins in all the destinations you want to see? Got stacks of travel guide books? Have you sat at your laptop full of excitement and wonder ready to research your trip; only to find yourself wading through useless information that’s just not relevant?

planning a solo budget travel trip - forever roaming the world

Researching and planning a solo budget travel trip.

I’ll be honest when I researched my first trip I was lost in a sea of information. Like so many others, I had official tourist websites open, Wikipedia, numerous travel blogs, travel guides and tried to plan everything. It was only after I started to travel that I found most of it was nonsense, some of the information was outdated and not relevant.

It’s easy to get carried away with planning especially planning solo budget travel. You’re excited, you want to see and do everything and of course you want to cover all your base’s to make sure your trip is perfect. After all your stepping out of your comfort zone and into the unknown; it’s human nature to want to be in control. I was exactly the same when I first started.

planning solo budget travel - forever roaming the world

However the first thing I learnt traveling solo, was not to over complicate things, not to over-plan and to keep it basic. So this is how I’ve evolved and streamlined my research and planning.

Part 1

  1. Initial Research.
  2. Researching the country.
  3. Researching transport.
  4. Planning a budget.

Initial research.

  • Different visa options. – The very first thing, once I’ve chosen a destination is to look at the Visa options on offer. Different countries have different visas for you depending what country you’re from. For example being British, I don’t need a visa for certain countries I can just get stamped on arrival. Most Commonwealth countries offer Working Holiday Visas (allow you to work in that country for a certain amount of time.) Other countries, visas need to be applied for and accepted before you arrive in the country. So you should always check your options.

TIP: Applying for visas directly through official government sites is quicker, cheaper and more reliable than through visa bureau agencies.

  • If choosing a normal tourist visa, I will check if there’s a fee or if it’s free, especially if there is going to be any land border crossings. Why? Because there are many corrupt border control officers that will try to charge you and take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. Ask any traveler who’s crossed land borders in central or South America and they will tell you the same.

TIP: If they try to charge you at land borders, ask for an official government receipt and watch as they let you have the visa for free.

  • Language. – I will check if English is widely spoken, what their native tong is and if I need to learn a few basic words.

planning a solo budget travel trip

TIP: Learning a few basic native words can help getting through airport security and goes a long way with locals. They appreciate the effort even if it’s not fluent. 

TIP: Duolingo is a great app to learn basic words.

  • General practices. – I’ve learnt to look into countries general policies, their rules and regulations especially in non-western countries where their way of life is different to ours. Remember you are visiting their country; be respectful of their beliefs and views. Don’t be the typical ignorant tourist that gives other travelers a bad rep.
  • Prices. – I’ll check what currency they use, conversation rates and general prices to give me a bit of an idea of what to expect. I use for live conversion rates, which helps me a lot with controlling my spending especially if I’m traveling through multiple countries.
  • Multiple countries. – I’ll briefly check all the above for all countries I’m visiting.

TIP: Even though it’s good to have an idea of prices, don’t get too hung up on converting every little thing. Remember everything is relative to that country.

Researching the country.

planning solo a budget travel trip - forever roaming the world

  • Draw up a rough route. – Either with Google maps or a physical map I will draw up a general route through my destination. This is never a definitive or concrete route; it just gives me a general idea and a starting point.
  • Things to do and see. – How many of you have opened every top 10 things to see and do’ website when researching a country? I used to open them all, write down everything suggested but I found out a long time ago plans change like the wind when traveling. That doesn’t mean I’m naive or even arrogant to say I don’t look at anything. I still will look at a few things my go to sites are the broke backpacker andWikitravel. There’s a couple of other travel blogs and YouTube travel vlogs I’ll check out but that’s about it. I’ll mainly use those to give me a rough idea of my destination.
  • Ask Advice. – Even though I’ve traveled since 2010, there are people I know who have been to more countries and seen more than me. I’ll ask them What they liked and didn’t, why they did or not? Recommendations? Do’s and don’ts? How they got around? Accommodation advice? Never be afraid to ask but don’t feel you have to follow their exact footsteps.
  • A loose list. – From my research, my route and friends recommendations I’ll draw up a very loose list of places, activities and sights I want to see. I never compile a comprehensive schedule or any sort of itinerary. I’ve met so many travelers who come with packed out itineraries and stress themselves out because they are always rushed to see everything.

TIP: Plans change like the wind when traveling, keep your schedule as loose as you can so you have room to maneuver.

You may want to stay in one place longer than the other, you might discover a hidden gem but if your schedule is packed then you can’t be flexible.

Using Guide Books for researching.

I know so many people who turn to travel guide books for their research and planning. Some people view Guide books more as travel bibles than just a guide to help you. I like to discover places for myself and form an opinion for myself rather than be told by a book what is good or not. Now while it’s the individuals choice, I try to stay away from official guide books as much as I can. However this might not be the case for you.

planning a solo budget travel trip

TIP: Use Travel guides as a rough guide and not a travel Bible! You don’t have to take every word as gospel or believe every single review. 

Researching transport.

It’s always good idea to look into and have a brief overview of how you’re going to travel around a country. I’ll check the best and cheapest option to get me from A to B, I.E local buses, coaches, planes, renting bikes, cars or minivans. Mainly I use public transport when traveling as I don’t drive. I’ll find out names of bus companies before hand or check if taking a domestic flight is a cheaper option. I never book transport before I’m in the country. Why? Because like travel plans, transport options change too.

TIP: If your planning a multi country trip, find out if flying is cheaper than land travel. I.E flying around Europe can be cheaper than trains and buses but in south America it’s cheaper by land travel.

Planning my budget.

planning solo budget travel - forever roaming the world

The hardest part of for me is figuring out how I’m going to stretch my money through my travels. This is where I have to get the currency converter out, my calculator and repeatedly keep asking myself why I don’t have more money.

To tell you the truth I was awful at budgeting for my first trip.

I saved a fair amount, I gave myself a weekly budget but I grossly misjudged how much I would spend. The harsh realities of being a broke backpacker in a foreign country hit me hard. Luckily, it was a country I was able to work and wasn’t as bigger issue as it could have been.

Looking back though, this was the biggest learning curve I’ve had as a traveler, that situation has helped turn me into a savvy budget backpacker and has helped me budget better.

planning a solo budget travel trip

  • From the research I’ve already done I’ll grasp a tighter idea of prices like transport, costs of certain activities, if there are entrance fees to certain sites, food and drinks, rough idea of cost of accommodation.
  • I’ll know the general prices of getting through a day and work out how much I’ll spend on an average day.
  • I’ll give myself a daily budget with a bit of leeway because I know there will be days I’ll spend more than others.
  • A big thing and it sounds stupid and simple but I’ll try not to spend unnecessarily before my trip.
  • If like me your planning to travel long-term then sell off things you don’t need. I sold everything I owned once I started to long-term travel. I know people who have sold their cars, and rented their homes out.
  • Be savvy too, haggle and bargain for trips, I never accept the first price for a trip. Shop around look for other options. For example when I planned a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru, I was quoted a different price by every tour operator, in the end I declined them all and did it the backpacker way. I Shared mini van to the hydro plant and hiked through the Andes rather than taking the train, It saved me over a $100 to do it this way

TIP: pay off outstanding bills – You don’t want chunks of your travel money disappearing into bills while your away.

TIP: While on trips try not to just buy things for the hell of it – That second cup of coffee, do you really need it?

TIP: separating money is helpful – If you can’t see it you can’t spend it! 

  • Once I’ve saved as much as I can, I put my money into different accounts. I will have a primary accounts for everyday use but also reserve accounts for emergencies – If you’re like me they will come in very handy!
  • Open an account that doesn’t charge for overseas withdrawals.
  • I only convert a small amount of money into the currency of my destination. Just enough to get me through the first few days.

TIP: Check if your bank will charge for overseas withdrawals and if so how much. 

TIP: Do not convert money at airports – You will be charged and get less for your money.

Planning a solo budget travel trip

  • I will look into alternative’s to save money like couch surfing instead of hostels, buying local food rather than eating in touristy places.
  • Eating in local places and cooing for yourself in hostels will save you a of money. Even sharing and cooking with others in hostels will only cost pennies in some places and a great way to meet other backpackers. Many friendships are born in kitchens of hostels.

TIP: Don’t stress yourself out too much about budgeting and thinking you will have to miss out on things. You will find ways to save money once you’re in your destination. Remember you’re there to have fun.

I have compiled a list of all the websites and Apps that come in handy for planning a solo budget travel trip and also during your trips which you will find very helpful.

planning a solo budget travel trip


Did you find these tips helpful? Drop me a comment below and I shall see you over in planning a solo budget travel trip part 2.

In part 2 I cover –

  1. Searching Accommodation.
  2. Researching and booking flights.
  3. Travel insurance.
  4. Documentation.
  5. Packing.
  6. Researching getting from airport/bus station to Accommodation.

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  1. That’s a bunch of great tips you have mentioned, I follow them too. I usually plan a day-to-day itinerary for my travels, even though keep flexibility. The guidebooks help a lot, but these days I prefer lots and lots of online information. I like to confirm details on official websites. Checking out visa fees before is a really good tip out there. I have myself seen visa scams in Cambodia border. Good post, Amit!
    Shreya Saha recently posted…Dubai Sightseeing During Flight LayoverMy Profile

  2. Nice post, Amit! Full of great tips for travelers! And this: “Be respectful of their beliefs and views. Don’t be the typical ignorant tourist that gives other travelers a bad rep.” — Couldn’t agree more! Maybe you already know about this site, but I’ve found to be helpful when trying to figure out different transportation options from point A to point B. Thanks for all of the tips! ?

  3. Many great tips that I, too follow. I like to have an idea of what there is to do in a place, but let the exact day to day planning just happen while I’m there. Sometimes I like to get some guidebooks out of my local library and read the practical information at the beginning and/or end – currency, weather, how to get around, visa/passport requirements, etc. Often I find this more efficient than searching online, although I do confirm details on official websites.

    Exploring Curiously recently posted…Hike Trolltunga in NorwayMy Profile

  4. Now this is a solo travel planning guide I can relate to, and one I would point anyone thinking of embarking on toward,. Clearly laid out, methodical, no frills, no nonsense and no bullshit. Just the facts to need plain and simple, with absolutely excellent nuggets of pragmatic advice, including things many folks may neglect (I mean, paying off the bills before you go…of course!). Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Joe recently posted…The Gobi Desert: Harsh, Desolate BeautyMy Profile

  5. Excellent tips, whether traveling long term or just planning a short overseas trip. I find myself spending the most time researching transportation when we travel. I like to know how I’m going to get around. Then I let everything else fall into place. I typically have a general itinerary of what I want to see most, but give myself flexibility, knowing I probably won’t get to everything.

  6. These are great tips which are provided by you, planning a solo trip can be interesting at a time. It is a good idea for everyone to try and learn few basic words of their language before traveling to other countries. It would be different fun to try and learn a couple of words of their language.

  7. Planning a solo trip can be interesting at times. In a budget trip you can discover some fabulous things which you will miss while on a luxury trip. Real fun can be when you are traveling solo and with very little money in your pocket.

  8. Really great list Amit – many of the tips here go for couple, group or family travel too! We are just about to embark on long-term travel for the first time, and some of the ideas you shared we will definitely use. We usually try and learn language basics but will check out the DuoLingo app as not used that before. We have a drone now as well so it is a great idea too, to check out local practices and regulations as drones can be heavily regulated. Look forward to reading more from your series, thanks for sharing the benefit of your long-term travel experiences!

  9. This is great insight and I struggled with some of the same planning with my own solo adventure. I think my biggest saving was public transport! I budgeted for renting cars but, DONT RENT A CAR! Unless you need it for a longer journey. Great recommendations, cant wait for part 2!

  10. Yes yes and yes! I totally agree with your list of tips ? finances are so important especially since I’ve just started working and can’t afford luxury holidays so I take budgeting very seriously!

  11. My favorite tip is to ask others for advice – I’ve found my favorite places and had my best experiences based on tips from other travelers I met along the way, not from guide books!

  12. I love the way you have broken down your initial research for the people to understand. This is true for any travel on your own. In fact if you have kids or family with you, there is additional research for there is burden on making it comfortable for them. It can be overwhelming as you say but your steps should work anyway.

  13. I feel like my strategy for planning out a trip is quite similar to yours! The only difference is probably just that I tend to plan a little more. One of my biggest pet peeves is wasting time. I hate to decide where to go after I’ve gotten to some place, because sometimes that decision can be quite hard for me. Then I feel like I’ve wasted time trying to make a decision when I could have been using that time to experience more wonderful things. So yes, I do tend to make an itinerary and plan out where I want to go, but I make sure to still be flexible. There have been plenty of times where I’ve had to change my itinerary passed on information I’ve discovered at a later date.

    Kiyoko recently posted…Decide Where to Go NextMy Profile

  14. Your post is very useful and it reminded me of my first big adventure around the world and how much time I’ve spent researching every detail, making sure I will always have somewhere to stay and trying to also meet local people to get to know the cultures better. It’s very important to know each country’s visa requirements as well and while I have a pretty good passport, I still do need visas for some countries.

  15. What a great article on the art of preparing for a trip! You might focus on solo travel, but I can certainly use these tips for planning some of my family travels!

  16. I’ve done a few solo trips, but not on the budget side! You give great advice as always. Bargaining with tour operators is a must as well as learning some local phrases. I also agree with researching the transport in other countries, it’s so important!

  17. Thank you for a nice detailed post on how to start solo traveling while not burning a hole in the pocket. I think your suggestion of checking out visa fees and the precaution to check corrupt officers is very useful. I have come across people who feel they have been cheated by officers in Central America and this actually ruins their entire experience. Looking forward to your next post on accommodation.

  18. These are great tips, it is definitely overwhelming at first! I like to use Lonely Planet etc to get an idea of where to go but ask recommendations from people I meet along the way. Plan but not overplan – it always changes anyway!

  19. What a nice planning guide with handy tips for travelling solo on a budget. I think many of them are also applicable for family travel, especially the pre-trip planning and transport guide. Great that you have been able to keep on travelling for so many years.

  20. So much wisdom here. I didn’t start traveling solo until I was a seasoned traveler already, which made it easier. So true about outdated info on websites and asking for helpful suggestions is so important. I also found that staying flexible makes all the difference between disappointment and discovery.

  21. It’s so true that plans change like the wind when you travel and I think it’s a normal thing for people overplan in their initials few trips and slowly realise the importance of flexibility with time 🙂 I have personally never come across corrupt border officials but from most of your posts it seems South America has a lot of corruption, will keep in mind to be vigilant in that area 🙂 As usual, I love how you’ve jotted down these tips Amit, very descriptive and focusing on the small yet important points.
    Medha Verma recently posted…10 things I wish I knew before visiting BaliMy Profile

  22. I’ve never done any budget travelling before, I always save up before going anywhere. But maybe one day I will be able to travel the world without having to spend a lot of money. I totally agree, airport currency exchange offices are always a rip off! I try to avoid them at all costs!
    Diana recently posted…Mushroom RisottoMy Profile

  23. Really good tips . It is a good idea to at least try and learn a few basic word when you travel. It is amazing how people respond to you if you have at least made an effort to try and learn a couple of words of their language.

  24. Wow! I solo-travel myself and these give me a whole new insight on solo-travelling. You really paid attention to details and what it is to look out for. It’s amazing to have people like you and share their experiences and methods like this, Thank you and keep on posting!

    Noel recently posted…Baler, Aurora TourMy Profile

  25. These are truly a helpful tips. I’ve been dreaming to have a long trip all by myself, but I only had 10 days of traveling solo. I hope in the future I could spend like around 60 days on the road all by myself. Truly, it takes a lot of planning, especially on the budgeting side in order to sustain your daily needs while on the road. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  26. All great tips to plan and get inspiration before you start your travels….this is always the fun part for me. But I also love to leave a little to chance so my itinerary is not too planned out that I miss some of the special local places and things to do.

  27. Long term planning does indeed require lots of planning in advance. What I would struggle most with (apart from knowing how far my budget will stretch) is to try to travel to the countries at that perfect time of the year. Like, don’t go to certain countries in winter, summer, rain season, dry season, and so on. That looks like the most difficult. And for the rest, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all the info there is out there.

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