Planning solo budget travel Pt 2
Planning solo budget travel Part 2 is a continuation of Planning a solo budget travel trip
(This post does include some affiliate links. There is no cost to you clicking them, it just earns me a few pennies).
If you are following on from Part 1 you can skip this paragraph and get right into it.
However, if this is your first time reading the post; this is a detailed step-by-step walk-through to help structure your research and planning for solo and(or) budget travel. I would strongly recommend in jumping back to part 1 first, so you can see how the structure falls into place.
Planning solo budget travel: Travel Insurance
A necessity to some, a nuisance to others. I’ll be honest I hate buying travel insurance. Why do I hate something so important? Well because I have to spend money on something I never want to ever use. I’ve been lucky enough to not have any major incidents over the years (except for a few bruises, scrapes and stitches here and there). I’ll be honest, I will pick and choose when I buy it, there are some destinations I think I might have to call upon it and others I know there’s little chance of needing it.
So, my advice to you is that you should definitely buy it! – No, not really, it’s completely up to you if you want it.
Now I know there are travelers out there who will preach to you that you need it, just in case something goes wrong but I also know travelers who have roamed the world for years and never had an issue. You know yourself better than anybody, if you feel like you should get it, then please do so. If you don’t, then you can just wing it but be aware if something were to go wrong, or if you were to have an injury, it could cost hundreds, even thousands with the likely-hood to ruin your trip.
The correct type
If you’ve never had to buy travel insurance before – be prepared, It can be a head spinner!
First of all, everybody and their dog will offer it to you, from your bank, travel agents, the post office (If you’re from the UK) to any existing insurance companies you might have. Then you have the hundreds of options online and it can leave you in haze figuring out which one is for you.
The best thing to do is filter the process, think about how long you’re planning on traveling for (this cuts out a big chunk of companies), what is the main purpose of your trip? Are you planning on doing any adventure/winter sports activities? Think and look back at the research you’ve done and filter down as much as you can, it will make picking the right one easier. Look for budget travel specific travel insurance, and check out backpacker budget travel companies like STA Travel or Geckos Adventure to see what they are offering.
Also, have a look if the country/region you’re traveling to offer any health benefits. IE, If you’re from England and traveling to Australia you will be eligible for Medicare, which is like the NHS and is free for British nationals.
There are hundreds of travel insurance companies online, jump online and check some comparison sites, use the filter you’ve made yourself and the choices will narrow down quite substantially.
Check the prices between the companies online and that of your bank, post office and travel companies. While you’re going through them you will notice a list of circumstances in which they will pay out. You should play around with these options and cater them to suit your needs.
Once you’ve catered it to your needs look at the ones that offer you the most value for money but be pragmatic, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
Popular Price comparison sites in the UK:
(Travel supermarket is an affiliate link but no added cost to you for clicking, just earns me some pennies)
Budget travel/backpacker insurance companies:
If your head is in a spin about travel insurance, check out this World nomads review posted by one of the most trusted travel bloggers in the world; The Broke Backpacker.
Let the pieces fall into place
You’ve now got all the pieces for your puzzle, you’ve done all the research you need. You’ve got an idea of prices, you’ve checked out all the different options for flights, accommodation, transport, activities/tours you can’t miss and a rough idea of how you’ll travel. It’s now that time for the fun part of planning solo budget travel – you get to start booking!
You’ll start to feel the adrenaline flow as you book that flight (if you’ve not already), some initial accommodation, transport if you want to and any tours or activities you are convinced are better off booking online. Remember to be savvy when booking and it doesn’t hurt just to have a quick browse around to see if there’s anything cheaper cropped up.
This page contains the tools and resources I use when booking for and during my trips.
Take a note of all the bookings you make and how much you spend, make sure you get confirmations and receipts.
Can you feel that? That’s your heart skipping a beat because now it’s real!
Re-adjust your budget
Once the adrenaline wears out and your heart gets back to a normal speed, It’s time to come back down to earth because now you have to re-adjust your budget.
Get your calculator out again, remember you had an initial budget before you started to do your research? Now that you’ve got the main things booked, and you know how much you’ll be able to save until you leave, let’s get a rough idea of how much you’ll be able to spend while you’re traveling.
You’ve got an idea of how much you will be leaving with, you know what visa you’ll be on (working or tourist) and depending on how good or bad you are with money, you should give yourself a maximum spend per day/week/month.
How do you do that? Well, you have a general idea of costs, you know roughly how much accommodation, food, drinks, and activities will cost and how you’re going to get around the country. Factor in these costs with how much money you will have and work out what you can spend. It’s up to you if you want to do that daily, weekly or monthly.
I tend to separate my budget. I will work out roughly how much I will need a month for the bigger expenses like accommodation, transport or any big excursion I’m planning and put that to one side. I’ll then figure out what I have left for the month and give myself a daily spend. Obviously, this doesn’t work out all the time, sometimes you can spend less and sometimes you end up spending a lot more (especially if partying is involved). And, of course, the more you travel long-term the less money you’ll have to play around with and the budgeting is taken care for you with the lack of funds. ( What happens when the funds start drying up?)
It’s also a good option to start looking at currency conversions to help work out your daily/weekly/monthly budget. A big mistake first-time travelers make is working out everything through their native currency. Additionally, don’t compare how much something costs in your country to that of your destination. The costs will vary, some things will be much cheaper and some will be more expensive.
So, if you start working things out in the currency of your destination beforehand you will get a better grasp of it, especially if it’s a poor country where the currency isn’t worth a lot and you’ll be dealing with bigger numbers. I.E in SouthEast Asia you’ll be dealing in hundreds, thousands and millions (no you still can’t class yourself as a millionaire, I tried it and it didn’t work).
TIP: Currency exchange rates change all the time, use a reliable tool to help you.
Travel websites and apps
Gone are the days when budget traveling or backpacking meant going off the grid. So, inevitably while you’re traveling you’re going to be connected and It’s a good idea to save some travel websites and download some apps that will help you through your journey.
There will be some websites and apps that will be lifesavers, some you will need to have and others you’ll want for fun. I’m not going to go through all the travel websites and apps here but a few essential ones you should have are google maps, google translate, hostel world app, and of course, Forever Roaming the World. Have a look for local apps that will help you with navigation, transport, food spots, bars, and things to do and see locally.
This page contains a comprehensive list of solo and budget travel websites and apps that will help you and be useful to you all the way through your journey.
It’s a good idea to invest in discount cards, local sim cards for your phone too.
You might be wondering what documents you should take with you if any at all. There are some you will require but there is no need to take a mountain of paperwork with you.
So what should you take? Well, that will depend on the country you are from and where you’re going to as. However, in general cases you need your most important documents which will be:
- Passport/photo ID
- Drivers license if you’re planning on driving on your travels
- Your flight details (Some countries require proof that you’ll leave the country)
- Proof of visa if it’s paper and not electronic (most are electronic nowadays)
- Some countries require vaccination proof.
- Potentially a recent bank statement if you are traveling on a working holiday visa
You might have read or heard from others that more documents are needed – they’re not. You don’t need countless photocopies of your passport and drivers license, you don’t need every letter under the sun from your Doctor, or your financial and credit history (trust me I’ve seen travelers with mountains of paperwork).
However, in saying that if it makes you feel safer or you think you will need more, I suggest you load them onto your, phone, tablet, hard-drive, USB stick or send them to yourself as an email.
Since 2010, when I started traveling the only documents I have ever needed on hand were my passport and flight details, I have never been asked for anything else.
I’m not going to go into much detail on this one but I’m sure you’ve heard and read that you should keep your packing light. Well while that is true, you should pack accordingly and keep it practical. Use your common sense, you’re going to be traveling around, more than likely with a backpack, that backpack is going to be on your back; so only take what you can carry and more importantly only what you need.
A few tips to save some space, roll instead of folding, use packing cubes, look into a lightweight but wind-resistant clothing. Just remember you’re going traveling and not going on a short-term holiday so you don’t need 3 outfits per day.
Pack what you think you need then get rid of half of it because you won’t wear it. Over the years my backpack has got lighter and lighter.
The other side of packing will be your electronics – This will be on personal choice and requirements. Do remember to pack a plug/socket converter though.
One last thing when planning solo budget travel
There is one last thing. You don’t have to do this, It’s just something I’ve picked up over the years and kept me in good stead and saved me money and time. What I recommend you do is to find out and look into the easiest and cheapest way to get to your accommodation when you before into the country.
I do this for every country I arrive in, whether that’s by land or air. There are a few reasons I do this.
1. Saves me getting hassled
The last thing I want and need when I first walk out of an Airport/bus/train station is taxi drivers and bus touts hassling me; In-fact I hate it! So If I do my research on how I can get to my accommodation, I’m able to walk out and brush off taxi drivers because I know exactly where I need to go. Also the less flustered you are the less likely you’re to be targeted by scammers.
2. Saves me getting ripped off/scammed
One of the first things you will notice when arriving in a new country, not only will the taxi drivers and local transport operators hassle you to go with them, some will also try to rip you off. And, It’s unfortunate to say this but tourists get targeted by petty criminals because half the time travelers are naive and easy targets. If you look like you know what you’re doing and know where you’re going you’re less likely to be targeted.
And if you can remember when we spoke about researching transport, you will have an idea of which taxi’s are official and which are not.
3. Don’t have to waste time/get lost/stuck
Another reason is that it simply doesn’t waste time, as soon as I walk out the Airport or station I know where to go, I know which taxi/tuk-tuk/bus/metro/train I need to take and I have an idea of how to get to my accommodation.
TIP: Check what your options are beforehand – Taxi/Uber/tuk-tuk/shuttle/bus/metro/train.
What could be worse than arriving in a new country just to get stuck because you didn’t think to check a bus or train timetable?
TIP: Ask your hostel or accommodation if they provide pickups or if they can arrange one.
TIP: With google maps look up a route from airport/station to accommodation and screenshot it – check it en-route so you know you’re on the right track.
It doesn’t have to be an in-depth research, I’ll quickly check which is the cheapest, quickest but safest method.
Your research and planning solo budget travel is complete.
And, that is it. You are all set. As I mentioned right at the beginning of this planning solo budget travel post, the more you travel the quicker and more streamlined this process will become for you. You can compare it to driving a car, at first it seems long, arduous and a complicated process but the more you do it, the easy it becomes. You will over time learn your own tricks and hacks, you’ll have your own structure and you will know your go-to sites so researching and planning solo budget travel will become a doddle.
In the meantime, I hope this planning solo budget travel aid/walk-through has helped you for your journey, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.
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