Why is it more expensive to travel alone?

Why Is It More Expensive to Travel Alone? How to Save $1000s

I didn’t account for all the hidden costs during my first solo trip. As a result, I came back with more credit card debt than I expected. But why is it more expensive to travel alone?

It can be more expensive to travel alone because solo travellers have to:

  • Pay a single’s surcharge when booking private accommodation
  • Cover the entire cost of private transport (taxis and Ubers)
  • Cover the entire cost of meals (no split bills)
  • Pay full price for tickets to attractions (no group discounts)
  • Pay more for travel insurance

However, it is not always more expensive to travel alone. In fact, travelling alone can be much cheaper than travelling in a group or with friends.

Below, I’ll share 5 expenses that can make travelling alone more expensive. I’ll also share 5 tips on how to avoid these expenses so that travelling alone is affordable.

Find more money-saving tips for solo travellers on Nomadic Yak!

Is It Really More Expensive to Travel Alone?

A world map with international currencies

Do you prefer to travel on a budget, in luxury or somewhere in between? Your answer will determine whether it is more expensive for you to travel alone or with someone.

Travelling alone can be 10-100% more expensive than travelling with someone if you:

  • Stay in private accommodation (i.e. motels, hotels or rentals like Airbnb)
  • Use private transport (i.e. car rental, motorhome rental, taxis or Ubers)
  • Dine out frequently
  • Regularly visit paid attractions and sights 
  • Fail to shop around for the best deal on travel insurance

However, it is not always more expensive to travel alone. In fact, solo travel can be up to 75% cheaper than travelling with someone. To make these savings, you can:

  • Stay in shared accommodation (i.e. hostel dorm rooms)
  • Use public transport (i.e. coaches, trains and airlines) and travel cards
  • Buy groceries, cook your own meals and search for cheap eateries nearby
  • Visit free attractions and use discount cards
  • Shop around for travel insurance

One of the benefits of travelling alone is that you can set your own budget. You don’t have to compromise with a partner, family or friends on how much you spend. You can travel as cheaply or as luxuriously as you like.

5 Reasons Why It Is More Expensive to Travel Alone: How to Avoid Added Costs

1. Accommodation can be more expensive when you travel alone

A double hotel room in Indonesia

If you were travelling with a tour group or friends, you could split the cost of a hotel or motel room between multiple people. But when travelling solo, you are often charged a single’s supplement.

This means that if you are travelling alone and book a room capable of hosting two people, you will have to cover the lost cost of the second occupant by paying an additional 10 – 100% of the per-person rate.

The best way to save costs when travelling alone is to stay in shared accommodation like hostel dorm rooms. Many hostels also offer affordable private rooms.

Alternatively, search for hotels or motels that specifically offer single rooms (as opposed to charging a solo supplement for a twin or double room). See my extra tips below on how to filter the best deals through comparison sites.

2. Transportation can be more expensive when you travel alone

A yellow taxi in New York City

Using private transportation like taxis, Ubers, rental cars and motorhomes is more expensive when you travel alone. 

If you were travelling with a tour group or friends you could split the cost of the ride between multiple people. But when travelling solo, you bear the entire cost of the trip yourself. 

Save money when travelling alone by predominantly using public transport like coaches, buses, trains and planes. 

Alternatively, buddy up with other travellers in your hostel and split the cost of private transport. Uber is best because it has an in-built feature for fare splitting.

You should also look into whether your destination offers regional or city-wide travel cards. Tourists can use these cards to receive discounts on public transport and entrance to local attractions.

3. Dining can be more expensive when you travel alone

Restaurant in Tokyo, Japan.

When travelling in a tour group, you will prepay for most of your meals (organised by the operator) and they will be relatively low-cost. And when travelling with friends and family you can split the cost of dining out. 

But when travelling solo, you bear the entire cost of dining out.

You can save a lot of money when travelling alone by buying groceries and preparing basic meals for yourself in your accommodation. Many hostels provide a kitchen area with stove tops, toasters, microwaves, kettles, pots and utensils.

Alternatively, use Google Maps to find restaurants near you. Filter the search results by “Price” to find local eateries that won’t break the bank.

4. Sightseeing can be more expensive when you travel alone

Camels beside the Giza Pyramids, Egypt.

When travelling in a tour group, the operator will buy tickets to attractions in bulk at a discounted price. And if you travel with family and friends, you’ll find that many attractions offer group discounts.

But when travelling alone, you don’t benefit from group discounts on tickets.

To save money on sightseeing, research free things to do at your destination. Most places offer free or low-cost national parks, museums and walking tours.

Avoid using comparison sites when looking for tickets to paid attractions. Usually, it is cheaper to buy tickets directly.

If you have a student card, you can show it at many attractions around the world to receive free or discounted entrance. And as mentioned above, you should look into whether your destination offers a regional or city-wide travel card with discounted entry prices to local attractions.

5. Travel insurance can be more expensive when you travel alone

Passport with boarding passes and camera.

Most insurance companies offer discounts when buying couples or group insurance policies.

For example, I compared the cost of travel insurance for a 3-month trip to Australia:

  • For a solo traveller, the median cost of travel insurance was US$580. 
  • For a couple, the median cost of travel insurance was US$460 ($230 per person). 
  • For a group of three, the cost of travel insurance was $1,200 ($400 per person).

Always shop around for the best price on travel insurance but don’t just go for the cheapest option. Read the policy carefully to ensure that you are covered for the various travel activities that you plan on partaking in.

6 More Tips to Save Money When Travelling Alone

1. See my list of the best value places for solo travel

Ad Banner: Best Places to Solo Travel

I’ve scientifically ranked all 193 countries in the world and created the ultimate list of the best places to solo travel.

Open the article and scroll to the table. Then sort the table by “Best Value”.

The best value solo travel destinations have accommodations, attractions and tours that are highly rated but low cost. They are also safe for solo travellers.

The cheapest and best places to travel alone include Vietnam, Romania, Spain, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Nepal, Germany, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

2. Don’t just rely on comparison sites

A glowing sign saying "Hotel" above a hotel

For years, I believed that comparison sites always offered the best prices on accommodation, flights and attractions. I was wrong.

These days, I always check the price directly with the supplier (e.g. the hotel or the airline). And 25% of the time, I find that they’ll offer a far better price if I book directly.

3. Join a tour group

Tour group walking up a hill together.

Tour organisers get discounts on accommodation, transport, meals and tickets because they book in bulk. 

If you’re concerned about your budget, you may find it more affordable to join a tour group. This way, you can pay for your trip upfront. Just beware of hidden costs such as optional day trips or single-room supplements.

Use TourRadar to find a reputable tour provider (I personally like G Adventures).

Unfortunately, I’ve had some sour experiences when using smaller, local tour companies (in Egypt I was overcharged for everything and arrived to find that my accommodation hadn’t been booked).

4. Slow travel

A woman practicing yoga and meditating in Bali

When I first started travelling alone, I crammed as much as possible into my itinerary. However, rushing your trip makes it more expensive (and less enjoyable).

Slow travel means staying in one destination for at least a week. By spending more time in each city or town, you get a better price per night on your accommodation. You also save on transport costs because you aren’t travelling as often.

Plus, slow travel allows you to really get to know your destination. You’ll befriend the locals, join their way of life and discover the hidden gems that most tourists skim past.

5. Filter search results to get the best deal

Accommodation booking website on a laptop.

Comparison sites like booking.com will often sort the search results by “Top Picks for Solo Travellers”. However, these results are often influenced by the hotels and motels that pay to advertise on the site.

I prefer to sort by “Lowest Price First”. Then add a filter: “Review Score: 7 or above”. 

When you find a listing you like, read at least 3 negative and 3 positive reviews before booking. Generally, I don’t recommend booking accommodation with a review score below 7.5. 

6. Split costs with your travel buddies

Two female travel friends sitting in the boot of a car.

One of the benefits of travelling alone is that you make a heap of new friends. And an added benefit of making new friends is that you can split your travel expenses.

When I make a new travel buddy, we’ll often end up travelling together for a few days. We’ll stay at the same hostels, eat at the same restaurants, drink at the same bars, book our transport together and visit the same attractions. 

And if we can split the cost of a hotel room or a meal, we’ll save money.

The fastest and most low-fee way to split funds between your international travel buddies is with an app like Paypal or Wise. Have these apps set up on your smartphone before your solo trip.

Summary: Why is it More Expensive to Travel Alone?

It is not necessarily more expensive to travel alone. Whilst solo travellers may pay more for private accommodation, transport and travel insurance, they can save money in other ways. 

If you stay in shared accommodation, use public transport, find cheap eateries, seek out discounts and shop around for travel insurance, you will likely find that it is cheaper to travel alone.

By minimising your expenses when travelling alone, you can travel for longer than you would with someone else.

Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak

Nomadic Yak Solo Travel Logo Circular

Find more solo travel budgeting tips on Nomadic Yak!

Nomadic Yak helps solo travellers to plan journeys that are adventurous and authentic.

Every article is written by me, Harry Dale. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.

You’ll find 100s of solo travel tips on how to save money, make more friends, build a social media following and much more.

Plus, you can use my solo travel destination guides to discover international sights and attractions that few other travellers get to witness.