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Budget-Friendly Ideas for the Single Traveler

Susan Yoo-Lee

While travelling with friends and family can be lots of fun and budget-friendly, sometimes you just want to travel alone because you want to reconnect, rejuvenate or re-whatever. But the solo approach also means that you're responsible for the full cost of any trip.

Since traveling alone can be costly, you might shy away from it as quickly as you think about it because the mere fact that you can't split the cost into two or more pieces already makes everything more expensive. But with a little research, you can be a solo traveler at a very low cost, if you're willing to give up certain costly luxuries and be open to connecting with people you don't know and services you're not familiar with.

If you're okay with taking an unconventional approach to traveling, it will save you more money than you ever imagined and will have you traveling more often than ever before. Here are five trusted sites that you should consider before going on a solo vacation:

Ridejoy.com: Going to and from your destination spot can be very expensive and hitching a ride off the road is probably too risky to even try, so how about buying a seat from a traveler who is also driving to your destination? Once you type in your destination and dates, you can see if any driver is traveling to the same place.

Most seats that I saw were $15 each and most drivers were selling three seats or more. If you don't find anyone traveling to your destination, you can be the driver and sell seats in your car -- that way you can cut gas costs both ways. In order to take the weird out of the whole transaction, you can always see the profile of the driver which shows if they were verified by Facebook, an "About Me" section, their work history and even their education. If you're still hesitant, you can check to see if anyone left references for that individual as well.

Easynest.com: The motto is "Share Cost. Make Friends." If you feel more comfortable reserving your hotel room and listing it, you can do that or you can choose to be a guest for a listed space. If you decide that you would like to host, make sure your profile is complete and thorough because it's a way for any potential roomie to feel comfortable enough to book your space. If you don't want to pay up front and want to be a guest in a room, make sure you look at the host's profile to see if it's a match and you can pay when you show up to the hotel room. If everything goes smoothly, you will be leaving your stay only having to pay 50 percent off the entire cost.

Couchsurfing.com: As the website explains, "You have friends all over the world, you just haven't met them yet." International travel can be very expensive and this is one way to alleviate the high costs of hotel stays. You can fill out your profile and find out if anyone is offering up a couch, spare room or an air mattress. If you're hoping to travel in the near future and need to save some funds, you can do that by offering up your couch on the site as well. The best part about the whole experience is that you meet new people around the world and often times you'll learn more about the culture and the best hidden treasures and your hosts might even take you around.

RelayRides.com: If you're traveling by plane, you're most likely going to end up renting a car, especially if the city doesn't have good transportation in and around it. Depending on the rental company and the demands of those dates, you could end up paying more than your actual flight. With RelayRides.com, you can rent cars from real owners. Because you end up renting it from real owners versus a big company, the prices are comparably low. I saw a 2010 Toyota Corolla for as low as $20 per day and a 2006 Porsche Carrera S for $189 per day (this is not a budget-friendly option, but gives you a sense of the range). You choose your date, your car and then you wait for a confirmation back from the owner. Once you get the confirmation, you can meet at the arranged meeting spot on your specified pick-up date.

FlightCar.com: If you want to ditch the high prices of a bigger car rental company, this is another option for you. Similar to RelayRides, the site rents out cars to travelers. The major difference is that the cars they rent out are parked in their airport parking location (RelayRides only has a parking spot at SFO airport), making the experience more seemless. The prices start out a $15 per day, which includes taxes and fees. The best part is that you're not charged for insurance, plus you get a curbside Town Car pickup at the airport.

On the flipside, if you're a traveler wanting to make some extra cash, you can always park your car for free and FlightCar will rent it out to approved pre-screened members. Not only do you get paid, but you save money on parking and you even get your car washed. Your car is covered by a $1 million insurance policy, so it's a win-win situation. The only downfall is that they only have three locations, including Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but they plan to add more soon.

Susan Yoo-Lee is the editor of Savings.com personal finance blog and founder of Mommas in the House blog.

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