Let’s talk about the best places to travel when solo and on a budget!
Two of the most common travel myths include:
- You need lots of money to travel
- You can’t do it alone
WRONG and WRONG!
Traveling on a budget is easy! Especially during university, I learned to travel frugally and to select travel destinations based on their costs. This is, for example, why I’ve already been to India, but Bhutan is still on my wish list. Fortunately, the world is full of budget-friendly travel destinations!
Another common misconception is that you need someone to travel with. But, trust me: you will be fine on your own! Solo travel is fun! It gets you out of your comfort zone, enables you to bond more quickly with fellow backpackers and locals and gives you unlimited freedom to do whatever you want! However, depending on what kind of trip you’re looking for, some destinations are more suitable for solo travelers than others.
Expedia.com asked me to share the best places to travel when solo and on a budget based on personal travel experience (please find my travel history here). Basically, I selected five countries that:
- don’t break the bank
- are relatively safe (find safety tips for solo travelers here)
- offer good opportunities to meet other people (e.g. social hostels, many other solo backpackers)
- are some of my favorite countries in terms of activities, sights, people, food etc. :)
I hope this list will offer you some travel inspiration for affordable and cool solo travel destinations for the new year!
Best places to travel when solo and on a budget
The Chinese hostels are among the most sociable of the world. Therefore, they are perfect for solo travelers looking for a travel buddy. Chinese hostels often organize ‘family dinners’, game nights and affordable tours. In my experience, most backpackers in China are a bit ‘older’, compared to, for example Southeast Asia. A dorm bed in China is about 7 euro’s per night and travel costs in general are low. China offers a variety of things to see including the Great Wall, mountain temples, the greenest rice terraces, vibrant, modern cities and delicious food.
Traveling in Bolivia is ridiculously cheap. A dorm bed or a room in a local guesthouse only costs about 6 euro’s per night. Tours (such as Salar de Uyuni) are a bit more expensive, but still very affordable. Most people in Bolivia tend to follow the same route, so it is easy to meet new people and travel together for a while. There are plenty of solo travelers and hostels tend to be social.
Thailand is the mecca of solo travelers. It’s cheap, fun, safe and there is loads to see and do. The food is delicious, the weather is good and the overall vibe is friendly and easy-going. Because there are so many solo travelers, it’s almost impossible not to meet other people. The average backpacker is young, most of them are between 18-22. Thailand is very safe and easy to travel around. It’s perfect for first-time young solo backpackers. However, I have to say though, this pretty much applies to the full (fantastic) circle of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
Food, transportation, accommodation and activities are all very cheap in Sri Lanka. My friend Irina only spent about 18 euro’s a day during her backpacking trip. At the moment, there are only a few hostels in Sri Lanka. In order to meet other backpackers, it’s therefore recommended to ask fellow travelers for tips of sociable guesthouses. You may also meet solo travelers on the coast for surfing or other water sports. Travelling is Sri Lanka is easy and safe, making it a backpackers favorite!
I also decided to include a whole region. After all, why not? It’s my blog ;)! Anyway, Eastern Europe offers lots of cultural and geographical variety, has an interesting history and is dirt cheap! It’s easy to get around by train (Interrail), bus or maybe even hitchhiking) and they are all fun ways to travel. The hostels in Eastern Europe are extremely sociable. If you’re in for a party, Eastern Europe is the place to be.
Addendum February 2018
I would like to add South Africa as a destination which is reasonably budget friendly, but more importantly extreme suitable for solo travelers. Great hostels, great tours and they also have an easy backpackers bus (Baz Bus) which also makes it easy to meet other people.
I would also like to add the Silk Road countries (from Turkey to China). Some places in Turkey were a bit lonely, because I was often the only solo backpacker around. However, Iran and the -stan countries were pretty great to meet other people. You often bump into each other in different places, because everyone is following the same route.
Nicaragua and Colombia
From friends I heard Nicaragua and Colombia are also good places for solo budget backpacking.
India is perfect for the adventurous traveler on a budget and I reckon (and heard) it should be perfect for solo travelers. However, even though I did meet some cool people during my trip, it was not as easy as I initially thought.
TIP: Because budget has always played an important role in my travels, I came up with the popular Money Matters series. In this series people share their travel expenses of a certain trip to help fellow backpackers with their budget and travel plans.
- Total rating (>80% is great)
- The rating for ‘atmosphere’
- The three latest reviews
- The total number of people who stayed there (higher = better generally speaking)
For this article, Bunch of Backpackers teamed up with Expedia.com!
What are your favorite destinations for budget solo travel?
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