We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more›

Budget Solo Travel Essentials: Must-Have Items for the Thrifty Traveler

Solo travel can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, with the right gear and mindset, budget solo travel can be an affordable and enjoyable way to explore new destinations.

The Benefits of Budget Solo Travel

Budget solo travel offers many benefits, including the freedom to explore at your own pace, the ability to connect with locals and other travelers, and the opportunity to challenge yourself and grow as an individual. Plus, traveling on a budget forces you to be creative, resourceful, and mindful of your spending, which can lead to valuable life skills.

10 Essential Items for Budget Solo Travel

While you don’t need a lot of gear to travel solo on a budget, there are a few items that can make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable. Here are some must-have items for the thrifty traveler:

1. Comfortable Backpack

A comfortable, durable backpack is essential for budget solo travel. Look for a backpack with a capacity of at least 30 liters and comfortable straps and padding. A backpack with multiple compartments and pockets can also help you stay organized and keep your gear easily accessible. We recommend the YETI Crossroads 27L backpack for its versatility and comfort.

travel backpack
credit: YETI

2. Reliable Walking Shoes

Walking is one of the best ways to explore a new destination, and a reliable pair of walking shoes is essential for budget solo travel. Look for shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and durable. Sneakers or hiking shoes are a good option, depending on your destination and planned activities. We recommend the KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Shoes for their exceptional comfort, waterproof protection, and sturdy construction, making them suitable for a variety of terrains and weather conditions.

Keen hiking shoes
credit: Keen Footwear

3. Lightweight Travel Towel

A lightweight travel towel is a must-have item for budget solo travel. Look for a towel that is quick-drying, absorbent, and compact. Microfiber towels are a good option as they are lightweight and easy to pack. We recommend the Gear Aid Quick Dry Travel Towel for its durability and quick-drying abilities.

4. Portable Charger

A portable charger is essential for keeping your devices charged while on the go. Look for a charger with a high capacity and multiple USB ports. We recommend the Anker PowerCore 10000 for its compact size and fast charging capabilities.

5. Travel-Sized Toiletries

Travel-sized toiletries are essential for budget solo travel, as they take up less space and weight in your backpack. Look for travel-sized versions of your favorite toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and sunscreen. We recommend the Travel Bottles TSA Approved Containers for their leak-proof design and compact size.

transparent TSA approved toiletry bag
credit: Amazon

6. Money Belt or Travel Wallet

Keeping your money, cards, and important documents secure is crucial while traveling solo. Consider investing in a money belt or a travel wallet that can be worn discreetly under your clothing. Look for one with RFID-blocking technology for added security. We recommend the Pacsafe anti-theft wallets and backpacks for their anti-theft features and organization compartments.

7. Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is essential during your solo travels, and a reusable water bottle is a must-have item. Look for a durable and leak-proof bottle that can be easily refilled. Opt for a collapsible water bottle if you have limited space in your backpack. We recommend the Grayl 24 oz Water Bottle for its durability, leak-proof design, and integrated water purification system, ensuring you have access to clean drinking water wherever you go.

Remember to choose a water bottle that suits your preferences and travel needs, ensuring you can stay hydrated on your budget solo travel adventures.

grayl water bottle
credit: Grayl

8. Universal Travel Adapter

If you’re traveling to different countries, a universal travel adapter is essential for charging your electronic devices. Look for an adapter that can work with multiple plug types and has additional USB ports. We recommend the NEWVANGA International Universal Travel Adapter for its compatibility and compact design.

9. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a game-changer when it comes to organizing your belongings in your backpack. They help maximize space and keep your items organized and easily accessible. Look for lightweight and durable packing cubes that suit your packing style. We recommend the SwissTech Packing Cubes Set for their quality and variety of sizes.

swisstech packing cubes
credit: SwissTech

10. Travel Insurance

While not a physical item, travel insurance is an essential investment for budget solo travelers. It provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost or stolen belongings. Make sure to choose a reputable travel insurance provider that offers comprehensive coverage. We recommend World Nomads for their reliable coverage and flexibility.

budget solo travel essentials


When embarking on a budget solo travel adventure, having the right essentials can make a significant difference in your comfort, convenience, and overall experience. From a comfortable backpack, solid carry-on luggage, and reliable walking shoes to essential toiletries and safety items, these must-have items for the thrifty traveler will help you navigate your journey with ease. Pack smart, stay prepared, and enjoy the freedom and excitement that budget solo travel brings!

Recommended Reads