How to go further and explore more - budget guide to solo female travellers
For a woman to travel alone, things are often more expensive. We pay more to stay in a room, take a cab, eat alone, etc. For us, it is not really about saving money, but more about going further and exploring more during our trips. We have asked in our community for the best tips, and put together this ultimate guide!
Go for a private room in a hostel
Many of us would choose to stay in a hostel not just because of the price, but that we want to meet people. I personally like hostels but only for a couple of nights. The social elements can get quite overwhelming, and I miss having my own space. Many hostels do nowadays provide private rooms, so you can still hit the hostel’s bar or go to activities they organise, while enjoying the privacy at the same time.
Sleep at airport
If you have an early morning flight, sleeping at the airport can be a great way to save on taxi, hotel and food cost. You don’t need to sleep on the floor or the uncomfortable chairs, but use the lounge. There are other ways to get access to the lounge than flying business or first-class, read here for how.
If you are using an online booking tool, book the day before your arrival. Usually prices are the cheapest on previous day of your arrival, especially if you are travelling during peak season. Prices may jump up online on the day of stay.
Better than booking online: call the hotel/host and ask whether you can get a discount by booking directly with them and offer to pay cash – most of them would happily give you a discount (as booking sites takes 4-8% fee).
If you do not mind to move around, book the first night only. Why? Firstly, you can ask the host to give you a discount to say longer. And when you arrive at a new place, you are normally not sure what are the best areas to stay – booking only one night allows you to explore more, and getting into place you find to ask often leads to a discount.
Last but not least, don’t be shy and ask! Ask for an upgrade, ask for a discount, etc. Your hotel receptionist or your host are the best resources, be kind to them and make friends with them.
Walk further away from tourist areas when meal-time is approaching and keep an eye on where locals eat. Sometimes a small restaurant by the road side can be the gem. Or simply ask – go to a hotel or a hostel and ask the receptionist.
If you are looking for a restaurant from your phone, again, walk away from the tourist areas and use the ‘Nearby’ feature. When it comes to reviews, don’t go with the top-rated ones, but the ones with few reviews but all 4-5 stars (reviews in local languages are good sign).
We do recommend eating with a local. Eatwith and similar web services enables you to find local hosts who will cook and eat together with you. It is often not much more expensive than going to a restaurant, and you will learn how to cook local cuisine, and make some new friends!
Always have snacks with you
Buy drinks and snacks and take them with you at all times, so you don’t need to spend more in the expensive areas. In addition, it gives you time to find a good place to eat in.
Buy from supermarket
In many places, supermarkets or convenience stores sell ready packed food or convenient food. Don’t rule them out, they can actually be quite good especially in big and busy cities, as they are made mainly for local people.
Do your research and planning ahead, sometimes getting a travel card or ticket pack can be much cheaper. Bus and trains are great – not just getting you from A to B, but you will get cheap sightseeing tours. So make sure you get a map or app with bus info.
Ask! When you are queuing for a taxi or booking a car, ask others whether you can share before you get into the car. Make sure you go with the official taxi, and agree on the price beforehand – be clear, and if you need to argue about the price, do it before you get in, or wait till you safely arrive at your destination.
Firstly, when you search for tickets, do it in incognito or private browsing mode <find out how here>, so the airlines will not ‘remember’ your past search and increase the price.
Secondly, use good search tools to find out the best fares. We recommend Skyscanner to look for cheap fares, destinations, and find price trends – although there are many other sites that do the same. If your journey’s some time away and you want to get the best fare, use Airfare Watchdog to set up alerts and Hopper for fare predictions. If you are flexible in where to go, Jack’s Flight Club is great in sending you the best fares including error fares.
When you are taking a long haul flight, consider stop overs, and book the two legs separately. It can be cheaper than booking from one search. Just note don’t book two flights only hours apart!
Knowing where you are when you arrive
When landing in a brand new city it can be really overwhelming, especially after a long flight and the last thing you want to do is run up a huge bill by using up data on your phone looking at maps. We would recommend downloading maps.me as a great way of accessing and using maps offline. You can pre-download the maps you need before you leave and even input your hostel/hotel into it. You can then have the comfort of knowing where you’re going and not run up a massive phone bill.
On the road
Manage your data
Get a local SIM card – in some country you can just get a SIM card off the counter, but some need you to register with passport/ID. Do your research beforehand and ask a local to help you.
Unless you have a bank card which does not charge you a fee when you use abroad, it is the best to withdraw from ATM. If you are withdrawing from an ATM at the airport, don’t use the exchange rate it provides, your bank normally has better rate than it despite the charges.
In addition, carry your own currency with you (if you are from a country where the currency’s strong and stable), always ask whether you can pay in your own currency. In many countries, people actually prefer dollars, euros, pounds etc, and the exchange rate they use is often the best rate.
Know the price beforehand
Whatever you do – taking a cab, going to a bar, taking a tour, know/agree the price beforehand and be clear what’s included! Unfortunately, there are tourist traps all around the world. Be smart, and also be safe – don’t argue about prices until you are in safe places. (it can also help to gather a group together before booking a certain trip as you could qualify for a group discount! It’ll be your first adventure with your new friends)
Work while on the go
For the ones taking long trips, this is a great way to expand your trip. There are many sites like Workaway, HelpX, Hippohelp, Hoxby to help you finding jobs or free accommodations in exchange of a few hours of your work. You can also go house sitting: Nomador lets you travel, live in people’s houses, taking care of their animals during your travel. There are also tons of opportunity for volunteering projects around the world.
One of the main reasons we all love to travel is to meet new people – make sure you meet and make friends with the locals too! You never know what great tips they’ll give you that you won’t find on any tourist map or in any online travel forum. Let them tell you about their town and what makes it special, they can also tell you where to get the best price on things!
That’s quite a lot of information to digest. We’ve tried hard to put everything at one place for you. Just one more tip: be kind to people you meet, smile to them, talk to them, and treat them with respect. After all, it is the people we meet in our trips make the difference, and it is people we meet who help us to go further and do more. Don’t be shy, have fun, make friends and enjoy your journey!
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