There can be problems managing your cash on holiday when you’re with someone else. For example, there can be squabbles over whose turn it is to pay for something. Arguments over who’s getting more from the kitty. etc. You know that if anything goes wrong, then there’s someone there to help. Or to blame. But at the same time there’s another person to share the responsibility and that alone can give you greater peace of mind. Solo travel needs a bit more thought and planning …
Keeping your cash safe
The first thing to realise is that you are responsible for keeping your money safe. No-one else. Hopefully you’ll never need to deal with the trauma of theft or losing your valuables but it can happen to anyone so you need to make your money as secure as possible.
I haven’t worn one of these since the 80s. But then I didn’t have access to a hotel safe or cash machines in the 80s either. Travelling from the bank to my room meant carrying all my cash in a lump sum. And much more of it than I’d ever do now. If you’re travelling somewhere with no bank nearby and no safe to keep it in and you need to carry your money on you then look into getting a small and easily hidden money belt. Some slip inside your clothes and some act like an actual belt with a hidden zipped compartment inside.
Or to be exact the little pockets inside your bra that hold them. There are patterns on the internet for little bags you can pop in there and attach securely. Full disclosure. I tried this once without the little bag – just rolled up some notes and popped them in. They fell straight out. Thankfully while I was still in my hotel room. So take this one under advisement!
I have a Royal Robbins skirt I take on holiday which is great – mostly because it has about five pockets, either hidden in seams or with heavy duty Velcro on them. I usually keep change for the bus, dolmus, taxi, whatever, in one pocket and small change in another. The most pocket is in a side seam and that’s where the higher denomination notes go. As notes can get damp quite quickly in the heat these are inside a little plastic sealed bag that came with a pair of earrings. Keeping safe doesn’t always have to cost a lot. There’s usually a DIY way to do these things.
I’ve used one of these but usually don’t bother unless I’m carrying a larger sum of money or my bank cards. For example if I need to withdraw money or pay for jewellery. The trick is to make it look as realistic as possible. Put in some low denomination notes and coins and a couple of cards that aren’t important enough to miss. Just make sure that there’s nothing that could be used for identity fraud so use some old loyalty cards for example. The idea is to hand this over to a mugger or to keep it in a pocket easily reached by pickpockets in the hope that they don’t look any further. Thankfully I’ve never had to put the theory to the test and hope I never do!
The best advice I can give you is this. Get good insurance. Have a spare bank card, just in case. Get a room safe and keep the bulk of your money in it and never keep all your money all in the one spot.
Managing your cash
Now I have to admit that I can be a bit OCD about carrying cash. And for that matter, getting the most from it. Travelling with friends means being able to have a kitty if you want to. And we all know the joy of the kitty. They magically expand to buy more than you’d ever expect them to.
But solo travel prevents that magic trick so I have to rely on the OCD to make sure I don’t run out of money by the end of the holiday.
A few years ago I came across the “Envelope System” for managing cash. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You nominate envelopes or coin purses or whatever you find easiest to manage into different categories. So you’d have “petrol”, “food”, “top-up” for example.
Well this year I decided to use the envelope system for holiday spending. One envelope each for the taxi to and from the airport; one the first day’s “just in case” spending; one for the compulsory Turkish bath and massage on arrival day.
I used actual envelopes from a batch of tiny Christmas cards that didn’t quite work out but you can use whatever comes to hand.
The rest of the money was withdrawn from the bank during my stay and split between a couple of old coin purses. The idea being that if I never have all the money with me at one time then I can never “accidentally” spend it all!
Careful planning could make all the difference between this:
The biggest expense of all when you’re travelling solo is the cost of the holiday itself. It can be horribly expensive especially as it’s so hard to avoid the dreaded single supplement. So my best advice is to book very, very early. You could also leave it till the last second depending on how relaxed you are over choice of country, resort or hotel, just to save costs overall.
The biggest saving is usually made by being able to avoid school holidays. I have booked a hotel in Turkey before which waived the single supplement during the October school week. But the hotel catered to adults only. Unfortunately the hotel itself was so expensive that I’ve never been able to justify going again regardless of discount! It’s worth searching on different dates if you can – a day either way can make quite a difference.
That said, it does no harm to have a word with your travel agent and even if you like to go in the hotter months, you can always book during the English holidays if you’re in Scotland and vice versa.
I’ve tried different variations on B & B, Half Board and All Inclusive and generally go for the latter. As long as the overall price is manageable I budget in a couple of meals out of the hotel just for variety. Otherwise, the food is generally all right and means that – especially if you’ve overspent earlier on – you know you won’t run out of cash for food and drink. Worst case you’ll have to eat in the hotel for the rest of your stay.
A quick tip for first time solo travellers. Waiters don’t always grasp the concept of someone eating alone.
Even if you’ve no intention of reading it – take a book to leave on the table. It means that the staff will realise that there is someone coming back and are less likely to clear away your bread plate while you go back for the soup!
So wherever your travels take you take care, be safe and have a wonderful time.
And if you’d like to chime in with your own tips, please do!