Going Places is a new series from TripIt that highlights frequent travelers to showcase their unique travel styles and insider tips.
For Lauren Richardson, travel blogger at Lauren’s Suitcase, travel is all about getting creative. That is, getting creative with how she travels, where she travels, and how she manages her travel budget.
“As a graduate student, I have to juggle my limited budget with my passion for travel,” Lauren told me. “I’m always on the lookout for ways to save when I travel—from just taking my carry-on bag and not picking a seat ahead of check-in (no extra fees!) to relying on airfare deals and mistake fares to being as flexible as possible.”
Enter: COVID-19, and Lauren once again had to get creative with travel planning.
“I planned A LOT of road trips,” she said. “About six months into the pandemic, my fiancé and I converted a Subaru into a car-camper and spent two weeks traveling through some of the (U.S.) Rocky Mountain states.”
Without these myriad obstacles, Lauren might not have visited her favorite under-the-radar destination to date: New Mexico.
“New Mexico has something for everyone! Food, culture, camping, national parks, a hot air balloon festival… to me, it’s one of the most overlooked destinations in the U.S. If it weren’t for the pandemic changing many of my travel plans, I might not have done that trip. I’m so glad I had the chance to visit.”
Travel planning? Music to her ears
Whether on the road or in the sky, Lauren likes to keep her travel plans organized with TripIt.
“I wasn’t at all organized until I discovered TripIt,” she shared. “It’s so helpful to have everything in one place. When I backpacked through Europe a few years ago, I booked so many modes of transportation: bus, train, plane—you name it. Having TripIt helped me keep track of it all.”
“I use TripIt even when I don’t travel,” she said. “I’m a huge live music fan, so I forward all my tickets for upcoming concerts to the app—that way I know what shows I’ve booked, what venues they’re playing at, and more.”
On staying safe while traveling solo—and learning from the locals
Another TripIt feature Lauren relies on is the ability to share her travel plans—a habit she’s gotten into especially when taking a solo trip.
“I’m so grateful for the solo trips I’ve taken. I used to put off trips until I found a travel buddy, but then I had this ah-ha moment, like, why am I waiting for someone to go with?” she shared. “But of course, I want to be safe when I travel by myself, so the ability to share my TripIt itineraries gives me—and my family—peace of mind when I’m going it alone.”
Lauren also keeps an eye on the safety rating of her destination with TripIt’s Neighborhood Safety Scores, so she can plan ahead if she’s visiting somewhere that has a heightened level of risk.
So, what’s her advice for making the most of a solo trip? “Make friends with the locals! I like to get somewhere and pretend I live there. So, I always make a point to get to know the locals, and ask about what they like to do.”
“I also choose to stay at hostels for solo travelers because they have family dinners and host walking tours that make it easy to meet people,” she added.
Did you know? Recent survey data from TripIt showed one-third (33%) of Americans planning to travel solo said their trip would also be a bucket-list trip.
Any other tips for fellow budget travelers—solo or otherwise? “Always book your flights first,” she said. “And be flexible. Prices can vary by just a day or two, so catching a good flight deal on a slightly different departure day might open up room in your budget for an excursion you’ve had your eye on.”
Want to learn more of Lauren’s tips for traveling on a budget? Check out her Instagram and blog for more ideas, and find out where she (and her carry-on suitcase) is headed next.