Budget tips from a solo traveller

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I have been travelling solo for some time now, and although my savings are leaking through some metaphorical hole in my pocket, my lack of funds can’t curb my lust for travel.

It’s for this reason my travel budget, and therefore my travel style, has shifted.

Gone are the days of choosing my favourite airlines for the sheer fact that the service, safety reputation and quality are far superior. I miss the hot towel when you sit down and the unlimited complimentary drinks. I miss built in screens where the flight seems to be too short because I didn’t watch all the movies I wanted to see. Sigh. Take me back. Every single day I selfishly beg the universe to let me win the lottery so I can fly in style again.

These days, I search the internet for flight deals just to get a fix for my wanderlust. And that’s just the beginning:

  • Refusing to pay for my meal in advance means making sure I have a sufficient meal before I leave. I always purchase a huge bottle of water to take on the flight, and let’s not forget a BYO in-flight sandwich from whichever shop I find on the way to my gate.

N.B. They legally have to provide you with drinking water, so if you didn’t bring your own water, don’t succumb to the pressure of paying for a bottle on the flight! They will bring you a cup of water, no matter how many times you press the call button. It’s their fault for being a tight airline. They will also bring you complimentary boiling water, so I like to BYO herbal teas and continuously ask for boiling water and cold water to keep hydrated.

  • My essential items? I like to ensure I have on board with me warm clothes and socks, that way I don’t have to purchase the ‘comfort pack’. Always bring ear plugs and earphones. You’re budget. You’re most likely surrounded by screaming babies. Do. Not. Forget. These.
  • And unless you want to pay for the ‘entertainment bundle’ – yep, you guessed it. Bring a good book and/or iPad or whatever floats your boat. A ten hour flight is incredibly boring if all you have is the magazine provided by the airline and whatever games you have on your phone. Audio books are great as they usually make you fall asleep and the time passes quickly.
  • Also, travelling on a budget means not paying the extra money for the luxury of choosing my own seat. Accept it.

If you’re solo and haven’t paid to pick your seat, chances are, you are placed smack bang in the middle seat.

The dreaded middle seat.

You sit there with the entire row to yourself – waiting for the plane to complete boarding, hoping it’s an empty flight and giving the evil eye to any approaching passenger and praying they don’t sit in one of the precious seats next to you. Unless they are a babe. This is the only exception.

If you’re banished to an ‘F’ seat, it can only mean one thing. You’re f***ed.

Smelly, dirty hair guy, clearly a little too big for the tiny seats on a budget flight, is taking his seat. He definitely paid for an aisle. Well played Sir, well played.

Here’s a question: Why do aisle seat passengers always take the middle arm rests along with the outer arm rests?? It’s so selfish! They simultaneously force you to join your elbows together at your stomach in order to make your shoulders hunch in this strange unnatural position in an effort to somehow make your broad shoulders appear narrower as if it’s the middle seat person’s responsibility to shrink to make more room for the aisle people. WAIT! What? You already have the aisle!!! Why do I have to shrink? Move over and use one arm rest!

  • Finally, my advice is to wait. Wait until everyone is in their seats and the plane has taken off. Now look around for less crowded rows and surreptitiously move yourself and your belongings to a comfier location…subject to availability, of course.

Sigh, when’s the next lottery draw?

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Amanda is a guest contributor on The Merry Go Round. She is a travel junkie and has basically been there and done everything. She practices yoga and alcohol consumption.