Planning solo budget travel part 2 includes some affiliate links. There is no cost to you clicking them, it just earns me a few pennies.

This is a continuation of planning a solo budget travel trip pt 1

Planning solo budget travel Part 2 covers:

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

Searching Accommodation.

Planning solo budget travel

Something that’s changed dramatically over the years is how I book my accommodation. I always used to book in advance for a set amount of time; at least 3 nights. (longer if I was planning on staying in 1 place long-term). However that’s changed, now the only time I book in advance is when I’m to arrive in a new country and only for 1 night. Just like with researching a country, finding accommodation is a quick and easy streamlined procedure now.

Planning solo budget travel

  • Find the Backpacker Areas. – Most countries cater to travelers and backpackers more than ever and most will have backpacker areas. These area are full of hostels, cheap bars and tour shops close to central attractions, so that’s where I’ll look to stay initially.
  • Searching Accommodation. -There’s so many different options depending on your budget and preference. If you’re a budget backpacker like me then you should look at couch surfing, guest houses and hostels. I normally use or HOSTEL WORLD to compare prices and availability.
  • Other options. – If you really want to save on money, have a look at house-sitting, camping or volunteering. Research if the country you’re heading to have campsites dotted around the area. Or maybe you’re looking to hire a mini-van, again so many countries cater to this and offer campsites.
  • Booking initial night’s stay. – The only time I book a hostel in advance now, is when I arrive in a new country. (affiliate link)

TIP: If you’re looking at a hostel for the first time, don’t compare it to a hotel, facilities are not gong to be hotel standards. Also Hostels are communal places where backpackers alike come together and great places to meet people.

TIP: Decide if you prefer party hostels or quiet ones – you don’t want a shock when you arrive.

TIP: Many hostels don’t advertise online, by walking around the area you may find better and cheaper places to stay. That’s why I only book 1 night in advance, so I can look for myself once I’m there.

Researching and Booking Flights when Planning solo budget travel.

Planning solo budget travel

After countless long-haul flights, I’m quite picky with my flights. When it comes to booking flights I really shop around for the best option. You should bear in mind, if you’re on a 10 hour plus flight, you will want some kind of comfort. Take it from me and I’m not the tallest guy but there is nothing worse than being crammed on a crappy plane for so long. Sometimes the cheapest option is the worst option.

  • Shop around. – I always shop around for Airfares, use different compare sites likes Sky scanner,, Expedia, google, Local travel agents (although they are normally the most expensive) or directly through air companies.
  • Try backpacker sites like STA travel. They offer discounts for students and sometimes offer good
    package deals or cheaper multi flights. Even though I’m not a student, I used STA for my last trip to South America. They are good with Flexi-flights.

Click banner to find cheap flights (This is an affiliate link, costs nothing extra to you but earns me a few pennies.

TIP: With sites like Skyscanner play around with country of origin. In the settings you can change what country your booking from. I.E when booking a flight in New Zealand I changed the country of origin to England and found cheaper flights for the same companies out of New Zealand.

TIP: Sign up for air-miles and newsletters for offers and cheaper deals on flights.

  • Different Options. – Play around with different routes, sometimes separate flights work out cheaper than a direct connecting flight.
  • Long layovers. – Sometimes it’s nice to break flights down and have a long layover especially in nicer airports. And also you don’t want to be rushing to your connecting flight.

Planning solo budget travel

TIP: make sure you have enough time between connections – If you’re a smoker like me then you’re going to want to find a smoking room during the connection.

  • Different Airports. – Look at flights from different airports not just the main Airport. I.E If I’m flying out of England I’ll compare flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham Airports.
  • Timing. – I’ve learnt to play around with when to fly out, certain times of the day work out cheaper.
  • Specific days. – Another thing I’ve picked up over the years is air fares are cheaper on certain days. I.E Flying on a Tuesday is nearly half the price as on a Monday.
  • Return Flights. – As I travel with no timescale I very rarely buy a set return ticket. Mostly I buy just a single ticket and on occasion I’ve bought an open-ended return ticket. (Keep in mind, return ticket only stretch 6 months in advance)

TIP: If you buy a return ticket or multi flights, check there is no penalty on changing dates or cancellation.

TIP: You should Double check the route of your flight. You don’t want to get stung with more stopovers than you thought. (It’s happened to me before, when my brother booked a flight home for me)

TIP: – Sign up for Air-miles! Something I regret not doing from my very first trip.

Travel Insurance.

Planning solo budget travel

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.) but I do begrudgingly buy travel insurance. And, you should too! No not really – it’s up to you if you want to buy it. You, like myself will come across backpackers that think they’re invincible and tell you they have no use for it and never bought travel insurance.

Buying the correct travel insurance for you can be quite difficult and a real headache, especially if it’s your first time. I’m not going to lie, I’m no expert on travel insurance I don’t know which is the best or not.

However I can let you know that there are hundreds of travel insurance companies on the internet, and everybody from your bank to your supermarket can offer travel insurance depending how long your trip is.

  • The correct type – There are so many different types of travel insurance, so I’ll make sure it’s the right on for my trip.

Planning solo budget travel

TIP: cater the insurance to your needs and make sure it covers your type of travel. I.E, if your planning on a lot of extreme sports make sure it covers Extreme sports. Does it have adequate medical cover? Cover theft? Cover electronics?

  • Cater it. – Like with other types of insurance there are add on’s and things you can take off. I’ll cater mine to what I might need. I.E medical, luggage, electronics,
  • Shop around. – Like with everything else I shop around when looking for travel insurance.
  • Compare sites. – I will use sites like Travel Supermarket to compare different companies.
  • Value for money. – I’ll make sure I’m getting value for money but also I’ll recognize that if the insurance payouts sound too good for what I’m paying then it probably is.
  • Ask – Simply I’ll ask travel buddies what they use.

TIP: Read the small print: find out how long payouts take and what circumstances they might not payout etc etc.


I get quite confused when I see other travelers and backpackers with folders full of documents. Some people carry a copy of everything they don’t need to have. All the paperwork you think you need – you don’t. Yes we are traveling to foreign countries, yes we need proof of who we are and the purpose of our visit but That’s it. I understand the need for some paperwork but we do live in the age of the internet. I will keep copies of documents on my hard-drive, phone or in my Email.

Physically I will only carry:

  • Passport.
  • Visa entry agreement. (if needed)
  • Bank letter with phone numbers. (In case there’s an issue)
  • Initial Flight itinerary.
  • Small notebook.

On my hard-drive, phone or Email:

  • Photocopy of Passport.
  • Travel insurance documentation.
  • Copy of Visa entry agreement. (if needed)

In 6 years of traveling the world from Australia to Peru on different types of Visas that is all the documents I’ve needed. I’ve never traveled to a country where I’ve needed to show proof of shots but I do understand some countries and nations need to have proof.

How many of us crammed as much as possible into our backpacks or suitcases on our first trips ? At least 2 pairs of everything for everyday? Prepared for every eventuality because, just in case we needed it! Honestly who even took just the one backpack with them ? Something pretty much every backpacker does on first trips is over-pack.

My first backpack was so full, all brand new clothes and more trainers and shoes than I needed. I didn’t think logically, that, this backpack would be on my back every time I moved on. With that weight I might as well have carried a bag of bricks with me; and worst of all I didn’t even wear half the clothes I took. However the more I’ve traveled the less I take with me; but packing for a trip if a funny one. There are things to factor in like the weather, terrain, if you’re traveling through different continents, what activities your planning on doing etc etc.

While the general consensus is you should pack as light as you can, it really depends on what type of trip you are taking. Is it a general backpacking trip through a country? Or is it a specialized trip like Hiking, camping, skiing? Is it long or short-term travel?  Is it a summer or winter trip? It all bares a factor in how you end up packing. So you should pack accordingly to your trip.

TIP: Remember you will be carrying your backpack as much as you move around. Keep it practical but light as you can.

Personally, I pack for general trips through countries, I keep my backpack light as I can. Through my research of the country, I’ll know what season I’m traveling in so I’ll pack accordingly.

NOTE: This is how I pack, it might not necessarily be the right way for you: 

TIP: rolling clothes into a sausage rather than folding saves on space in your backpack.

Planning solo budget travel

My backpack generally consists of the following:

Basic clothes – Underwear, socks, a hoodie, 1 pair of long bottoms, swimming/shorts and a few T-shirts.

Toiletries – Tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, shower get, Hair clippers, Mosquito spray and Tiger balm.

Electronics – Phone, laptop, camera, hard-drive, headphones, plug converter, chargers for phone and laptop.

TIP: It’s a good idea to invest in a good quality rugged backpack. They will get thrown about, manhandled on buses, planes, boats so the last thing you want is for it to rip mid-trip. 

TIP: A backpack with good back support will make it feel lighter than it is and won’t weigh you down as much. 

My backpack doesn’t look like much but it’s survived 6 years of being thrown around on planes, boats and buses.

TIP: Remember your backpacking and not on holiday – You don’t need to bring your best clothes. And if you do be prepared for them to get ruined one way or another. 

Researching getting from airport/bus station to Accommodation.

There is one last piece of research I do, Something I learnt from a fellow long-term traveler and that’s to check my best option on how to get to my hostel from my starting point.

There’s a few reasons why I look into this now.

  1. Not to get scammed. – So many backpackers get scammed by unregistered taxis and there are a lot of them that pose as official taxis but aren’t.
  2. Stops me getting hounded. – After long journeys I’m pretty ratty all I want is a smoke in piece, So I get so frustrated with taxi drivers hounding me. With having done some research I can make a beeline to my choice of transport without getting hassled.
  3. Safety. – No matter how long I’ve traveled or how savvy I am traveling there are countries that are dangerous.
  4. So I don’t get stuck or lost. – Nothing can be worse than arriving in a new destination and getting stuck or lost because you didn’t check a bus timetable, or don’t understand it.

TIP: Google your route, have a screen shot of it or a physical map and make sure the driver follows the quickest route. 

TIP: Check bus schedules online before hand. 

TIP: Check if there are other options – Taxi’s, Tuk-tuks, shuttles, buses or metro systems.

TIP: Ask hostel if they can arrange a pickup.

This doesn’t have to be an in-depth research, I will simply look into the best method, check bus or train timetables, check prices, what taxi is official, if there’s tuk tuks or uber running in that country. All I need to know is which is the cheapest, quickest but safest method. And I will check if my hostel does a shuttle. (I Will cover taxis, and transport options and haggling with drivers in more detail in a future post.)

And this is how I go about researching my solo budget travel trips, is there anything you do differently when planning a trip? Did you find anything helpful ? Drop me a comment below to let me know what you thought of this post.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already 😀

planning a solo budget travel trip

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  1. I can see loads of really sound advice in this post that comes from years of travelling. There are so many small things that are easy to forget about. My favourite is to check the bus info before you get to your destination so that you don’t get lost. This is a great list to use when you are travelling.

  2. Reading everything that you included on that list makes me realize how much there is to travelling, not just travelling solo. And miraculously, it all comes together like clockwork when we make a list. The key is planning.

  3. That’s a great and comprehensive list. I like what you say about sussing out your onward transit options. I managed to forget that once in New York, which wasn’t my smartest move.

    We’ve had the need to use our travel insurance twice, and are mighty glad that we had it. They weren’t serious issues, but one could have been (palpitations caused by way too much caffeine in Chicago!), and it was good to know everything was covered.
    Bernadette Jackson recently posted…London Calling: A Day Exploring Fascinating Shad ThamesMy Profile

  4. These are great tips for travelers! Agree that taxis can be the ones that scam the most! We left a month ago to travel Asia as a couple and the first thing getting off at the airport in Beijing was a taxi scam. But, we’ve discovered that we save the most money using Uber when possible. Need to try Grab one day. And never getting an unregistered taxi at the airport ever again!

  5. Very comprehensive list of tips! The biggest challenge for me is the airfare, though I’ve already become an expert in booking cheap flights since I’ve been a frequent traveler since 4 years ago and, now, I’m a long-term traveler. I prefer hostels most of time, not only because they’re way cheaper, but also because I meet exciting travelers there. I don’t mind long layovers because I enjoy drinking coffee, reading books, and writing when I have plenty of free time.
    Rye Santiago recently posted…I Quit My Job in Pursuit of a Bigger LifeMy Profile

  6. Fantastic and detailed tips. We also love for planning our family travel accommodations as they offer so much more than just hotels. I also love your point about ensuring you know how to get from A to B once you arrive, so many of us get overwhelmed trying to figure that out on the spot, so being prepared is a great advance idea! (And I’m still working on getting my packing down)

  7. Helpful tips! I totally agree about doing lots of research for flights. It can be so tempting to book the first cheap flight you find, but I’m really starting to love long layovers. In fact, if I have the time, I will stay an extra night in a layover city to break up my trip.

  8. Loads of great tips in there for new travelers! It took me so long mastering the art of packing lightly, but it’s really the best of tips when you have only a carry on, soooo much cheaper to travel that way!

  9. This is really extensive and detailed post with very good tips on planning solo travel. I have travelled solo within my country a few times. Don’t know how the international experience would be. But will keep these tips in mind for when it happens.

  10. We already use Skyscanner but Travel Supermarket is a nice tip. We have never done travel insurance. Thanks!

  11. This is the ultimate guide for a person taking their first solo adventure – and it’s only the second half! I would recommend this to anyone nervously planning that experience. It’s so true to have digital and hard copies of documents. I also make copies to leave with someone I trust at home (my parents and my in-laws both have copies of our important documents. Just to be safe.

  12. I feel like a doofus, but I literally never thought of how important it is to have a digital copy of your passport/ID as a just in case measure. These are all great tips, from the basic to the “I bet that’s the voice of experience speaking”, and a fun read, even for those of us who aren’t backpackers ?
    Meagan recently posted…Exploring Johnston Canyon’s Secret CaveMy Profile

  13. Your tips are super insightful, especially for those who wish to travel solo. This is really a one stop guide. Backpacking sure isn’t easy and finding the right hostel can be so taxing! Love the way you have explained the importance of travel insurance and how to book return flights that help save money and allow date changes!

  14. Well done! I think this post does have all the information you need if you want to set out on a trip alone for the first time. I do have two questions though: Why do you prefer booking just one night in advance? For flexibility? Also, how do you know in advance if the hostel is a party place or rather quiet? Loved the tips on booking cheap flights. I am not a solo traveller and not a budget traveller but I do look out for cheaper options too. I didn’t realise you could trick the system by choosing a different booking country for example. Will try this out next time I book flights!

    Silke recently posted…The Cliffs of Kilkee on a Broccoli Kind of DayMy Profile

  15. Never thought about changing my origin when booking a flight and for the other sites besides Skyscanner. Thanks for those tips!!!

  16. This was a nice informative post! There was a lot of good tips and insight. Currently planning on taking a trip next summer so I was able to take some valuable tip! Thanks for the share!

  17. THese are all great tips to planning and being prepared and comfortable. I always make sure about the transfer portion for ease of comfort to making an easy transition to where I’m staying and arrange a pickup or know if Uber or similar transport is available.

  18. A lot of good advice here! It’s funny because I can really relate to many things you say about the mistakes we make when we just start traveling, like overpacking etc – and we get to the same conclusions as to how to book hotels, flights and how to pack. That said, I have yet to try your advice about rolling your clothes instead of folding them!
    Julien recently posted…Preparing a Backpacking Trip: Peace of Mind Without Sacrificing FreedomMy Profile

  19. I use Skyscanner, too. It’s one of my favorite sites for airline travel, though I’ve not actually booked a flight using it. Other than flying between the US and Mexico, I haven’t needed to fly recently. I’ve also never stayed in a hostel. I think I’d be more like you were in the beginning – I’d want to have a few days covered. I suppose that if I were going to go on an open ended trip, that one day in a hostel is a good plan and then you can explore for a better deal.

    Travel insurance is must for me. No one wants to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

  20. Great tips! I second two things in particular – pack light and ask your hostel in advance for the best/cheapest way to get to them from how you enter the town. Personally, whenever possible, I take a carry on – a 45 liter backpack, which is pretty big. I occasionally have to check it on smaller regional airlines, but I choose these flights based on flight price combined with any luggage fees (some don’t charge for checked bags).

    Exploring Curiously recently posted…Visiting a Fairy Tale Castle in DenmarkMy Profile

  21. I really like these tips, although I’m a sucker for a bit more privacy and luxury… I always plan my trips 3-4 months in advance and get an Airbnb or hotel after saving for a long time! I’m definitely not a budget traveller but these tips make me think it’s possible for me!

  22. You have a lot of great advice here. I like the idea of booking only one night in your hostel and then looking for cheaper places. I would definitely look for a quiet one, although this introvert would much rather have a room to decompress in at the end of the day! If I were 20 years younger, I may have been able to travel with just a backpack. I fear I’m too old for that now.

  23. Great post! I have to admit that I am not much of a solo traveller but it is on my list! Your tips are great, particularly the one with the Google Maps screenshot! Just had a really dumb taxi driver in Munich who didn’t even know the route and didn’t want to turn on his navigation for some reason. Definitely gonna have a screen shot next time!

  24. I loved reading the 1st part of the post and the second part of the post doesn’t disappoint me one bit! Thanks for sharing your valuable experience. I like the concept of volunteering for my experience and is a low cost solution as well! I guess on that point, we are totally on the same page!

  25. well this was really helpful. I agree packing for holiday or short trips need minimum goods. however, i struggle a lot when it’s long stays though. great post and def agree on not liking cramped conditions on a long hail flight over 10 hours…bu 1st class is so expensive.
    Bee recently posted…Grootvadersbosch ReservationMy Profile

  26. Some more great tips on travelling solo. I’m not a backpacker, but your tips also apply to us flashpackers ? I agree about shopping around for accommodation, and yes, travel insurance is a pain, but I’ve seen too many incidents abroad where people had to spend thousands to get medical treatment. Since then, I always make sure I have it!

  27. Ok so once again I totally admire that you can do this because I cannot – booking only for the first night of stay in a new country and then winging it ! I would be too freaked to do that lol. I totally agree with your point of not carrying any print outs or folders, I mean, it is the age of internet and we can always carry soft copies on our phones ! Most airlines even have started to accept online boarding passes, why waste all that paper (and space)? I love all your tips Amit, as always they’re very handy, but many of them require a courageous traveler rather than a risk averse one like me ?

    Medha Verma recently posted…10 things I wish I knew before visiting BaliMy Profile

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