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7 Budget Hacks for Solo Travelers

Leonardo Patrizi / istockphoto.com

Leonardo Patrizi / istockphoto.com

It’s less expensive if you decide to travel on your own, right? Think again. Solo travel expenses, even if you budget carefully, can easily add up across the board when it comes to transportation, lodging, meals and sightseeing.

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Follow these clever budget hacks to save extra money during your next big adventure flying solo.

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Use the Right Mix of Credit Cards

Leslie Carbone, travel blogger at Sancerres at Sunset, recommends using the right mix of credit cards during solo travels. Some of these cards should include the following: 

  • A premium travel card. This card provides benefits like trip-delay reimbursement, price-drop protection and cell phone insurance. 
  • A casino brand affinity card with no annual fee. Carbone said this card can help low rollers score comped rooms.
  • A few credit cards that pay good cash back rates of 3% to 5% on significant travel expenses.
  • A go-to credit card that pays a blanket cash back rate of 1% to 2%.

Solo travel is also the perfect time to use any accrued credit card points. Cali O’Connor, founder of Travel Shifters, said she loves to use credit card points on hotel stays and earns a lot of points on her Chase credit card.

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Buy an Amtrak Rail Pass

Last summer, O’Connor bought the Amtrak USA rail pass when it was on sale for $299. The purchase allowed O’Connor to travel 10 segments on the train within 30 days. O’Connor traveled from Boston to Milwaukee to Whitefish, Montana to Seattle to Napa. She even had segments leftover so she could have continued the journey.

“This is a fantastic way to save money and see parts of the country that you’d normally fly over,” said O’Connor. “There is much more space than an airplane and it will save you money on accommodation.”

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Book an Airbnb

Polly Clover, lifestyle writer at Polly Clover Writes, is an avid solo traveler. Clover has traveled abroad for over a year, traveled around the United States in a camper van and currently lives in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

One of Clover’s recommendations for traveling and experiencing budget hacks along the way is to book an Airbnb for the most authentic experiences. 

Clover said you can use filters on Airbnb to find unique accommodations in your price range and recommends looking as soon as possible for the best options. 

“Many Airbnb opportunities also allow you to meet locals and get local insider tips when traveling,” said Clover.

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Stay at Casino Hotels

This is a great hack from Carbone that ensures you save a bit of money and stay safe during your travels. These rooms are often inexpensive or even comped and not just for high rollers.

“Casinos are great for solo travelers, especially women,” said Carbone. “They’re safe; cameras and security staff are ubiquitous.”

Plus, you’ll never be bored during your stay. Carbone said there’s always something for travelers to do, whether it’s a visit to bars and restaurants, spas and pools or the gaming section. 

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Dine During Happy Hour

How can you cut back on dining expenses while traveling without packing extra meals? One of Carbone’s hacks is to dine out during happy hour. 

“Drink and food specials make happy hour at the bar a relaxing and inexpensive way to eat,” said Carbone. “I like to sample the local cuisine with a couple of small plates. And a good bartender can fill you in on the off-the-radar fun things to do in the area.”

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Join Local Facebook Pages

Before you decide where you’d like to travel next, Clover recommends joining local Facebook pages for your destination.

Local Facebook pages are one of the best resources on social media for free, affordable events and activities. “Almost every destination offers pages like this, and I’ve come across amazing adventures and activities I probably wouldn’t have found on my own,” said Clover.

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Research Your Current Memberships

Some of your current memberships, like phone service providers and credit cards, might have deals available for travel you may not realize you can access and start using. 

Jeff Foland, CEO of The Parking Spot, recommends examining all of your credit cards, insurance, phone service provider, credit union and anywhere else you may hold a membership to see if you have access to deals on travel, transportation or parking at airports.

“Many people don’t even know all of the perks they’re not leveraging because they may not read the fine print when they sign up for services and memberships,” said Foland.

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