To be frank, I don’t usually spend too much time planning for my trips. I don’t create an elaborate itinerary and have every accommodation booked in advance. Because you never know what’s going to happen. The only thing you know for sure is that it will be almost impossible to stick to your plan. That’s why I usually don’t plan at all. But some things should be considered before you leave for your trip. Especially if you’re trying to stick to your budget.
Set a Budget
To travel on a budget you obviously first need to know how big your budget is. You either set a budget for a day, let’s say you want to spend no more than $30 per day, or you can set a budget for your entire trip. This is up to you but I recommend creating a daily budget. It’s easier to stick to your budget that way and there are no uncomfortable surprises at the end of your trip.
I wrote an article about I love to use YNAB to save money for my trips. During my trips though I don’t use YNAB.
I love the Trail Wallet app on my phone to keep track of my expenses during the trip. It is very helpful to stick to your budget and it always shows you how much you have left for the day or for the entire trip. The only downside is that it is only available for iOS. If you know anything similar to Trail Wallet on Android, please let me know in the comments.
When and Where to Go
The time you choose to travel can be the biggest price factor for your trip. You want to go when prices are the lowest. This is usually during the down season or maybe the shoulder season. While prices are at their lowest during that time, the weather is usually at its worst during that time. Hence the low prices. Worst sounds really bad but in most places, the weather isn’t really that terrible. Maybe it’s a bit colder, or a bit rainy but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring.
In the end, the place doesn’t matter too much. Obviously, it’s cheaper to travel in South East Asia than it is in Europe, but the high season in South East Asia could be expensive as well.
Even if you don’t create a huge itinerary it might be a good idea to save a few places or activities that you consider must-sees for yourself. You can plan your route as you go around these places.
If you want to stick to your budget you really have two or maybe even three options for accommodations. The first one would be hostels. As a solo traveler, these are fantastic places to meet other travelers and find out about fun things to do in the area. Maybe you even meet people you can join for the rest of the trip. I usually check for hostels on Booking.com or Hostelworld. During the down season, it is hardly ever necessary to book a hostel in advance though.
The cheapest option out there is Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is absolutely free and you get to stay with a local in their own home. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that. You might learn a lot more about the country you are traveling in if you can interact with locals in that way. The only “downside” to this is that you probably won’t meet any other travelers that can join you on your trip.
The tools I use to plan my trips vary from trip to trip and also change almost every week. But the ones mentioned below are the ones that I could stick to for the longest. They are mostly tools to help you do research, store information etc. I won’t mention flight search engines, I’ve already written an article about that.
The first tool that I have to mention here would be Evernote. I’ve been an Evernote users for years and it is fantastic. Evernote is a note-taking app and it is superb to store all kinds of information. I store everything in there. Same goes for my travel planning. I store all my receipts, tickets, itineraries etc. in there and I can access it all on my phone without internet during my trip. I also store copies of my passport, credit cards and what not in there which can be very helpful in case you lose any of it.
Next up we have Pinterest. I’m not sure if Pinterest qualifies as a tool but I’ll list it here anyway. I use Pinterest to pin fun or beautiful photos to boards. I have a board for every country and store pins in there to know about places I might like to visit. You can follow me on Pinterest here.
Last but definitely not least is Pinboard. The name says it all. It’s a pinboard for the internet. You can store bookmarks in there and access them on every device. It’s as simple as that. I store all blog posts or websites with useful information in there. Most of the things I want to see I have stored in Pinboard as well.
If you have any tips on how you plan your trips, don’t hesitate to write a comment below!