by Annie 

Published: February 1, 2022

Updated:  August 7, 2022
Alt Text: Indie travel at the Grand Park in Tirana Albania

If you’ve been around my world for a minute, you’ve heard me talk a lot about indie travel. It’s at the heart of my passion for travel, this website, and the work I do in the world! 

Around the travel industry, you don’t hear about it much because traditional travel agents, tour companies, cruises, and all-inclusive resorts don’t make their money from indie travelers. We are the rebels and nonconformists of the travel world! Even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself a “rebel”, hear me out. I promise there’s so much to love about traveling this way.

In this article, I’m going to show you how indie travel can help you create more memorable experiences and save you money at the same time. First, we’ll start with understanding what the hell indie travel even means, then I’ll share a little of my own story with you. We’ll finish up with ways you can learn more about this type of travel and resources to help you get out there and see the world your way!

***This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using the link, I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps me keep the lights on around here. I ONLY recommend products and services I personally use and love. ***

empty boats on the shore of the Adriatic Sea

Indie travel is the ultimate freedom to choose your boat and direction!

Indie travel is just a shortened way of saying “independent travel”. It means planning your own trips without travel agents, multi-day group tours, cruise ships, or all-inclusive resorts. Yes, you do all the work, but in return, you get full control of your experience and how you spend your time and money. 

Indie travel is also a mindset. It’s about connecting with your destination and the people who live there in meaningful and authentic ways. We want to be thoughtful about our travels and how we impact the places we visit. We spend our money intentionally, in ways that support local economies. Rather than staying in generic chain hotels, indie travelers choose accommodations owned by locals. We choose our destinations with care and want to understand the people and cultures we encounter, not just check off a list of “must see” attractions. 

We pay attention to the moments that connect us with our shared humanity. We see travel as an experience not a commodity to be consumed. We want to have fun and also deepen our understanding of the world around us. We open our hearts and allow our travels to change us, to give us new perspectives. We carry these experiences home and our everyday lives become all the better for it.

How I fell in Love with Indie Travel

Picture of indie travel in Apollonia Albania

Indie traveling my way through Albania in the fall of 2021

Honestly, I’d never even heard the term “indie travel” when I went on my first trip to Europe in 2008. I was thrown into the deep end literally overnight! The trip was for a traditional corporate job I had in my mid-twenties. My boss came into my office on a Friday morning and said he needed me to visit five of our European facilities for an upcoming product launch. Then he told me I had to leave the next day! 

With no experience planning international travel, I booked a bunch of flights and hotels and hoped for the best. I sped home to pack everything I thought I might need for the next eighteen days into a ridiculously oversized suitcase. The next morning, I was on a plane to Stockholm. Talk about trial by fire!

Long story short -- the trip changed my life. Before I’d even made it through passport control, I was hooked! I knew this was what I wanted to do forever. Before the day was done, I also knew my experiences weren’t just for me. They were meant to be shared. It was just too damn good to keep all to myself! Though I had a corporate credit card and was there for work, I saw the possibilities of indie travel during those moments of exploring on my own. 

The following summer I had my first real indie travel experience when my boyfriend (now husband <3) and I spent ten days traveling through Europe staying in funky accommodations, riding metros, having picnics, and seeing places I’d always dreamed about. 

Thirteen years later, I’m on a mission to help other fiercely independent travelers find the information, resources, and support to get out there and make those travel dreams come true!

Why You Should Consider Indie Travel

Open-air market stalls in Tirana Albania

Indie travelers get time to explore places like this incredible open-air market!

If you’re like me, the idea of following someone else’s agenda and being shuttled from place to place sounds like a nightmare. Indie travel gives you full control of how you spend your time and money. It’s all about freedom! 

Because you get to create the experience, you get to focus on what matters most to you and skip or save on the rest. I call this approach “value travel” -- it’s not about what’s the cheapest, most popular, or Instagrammable. It’s about intentionally building your travels around what’s most valuable to you.

Indie travel allows you to save money on the elements of a trip that aren’t a priority for you. If you want to visit Paris but don’t care about going to the Louvre, you can save the entrance fee for something you’ll truly enjoy. Yes, you’re allowed to go to Paris and skip the Louvre because indie travel is about the experiences you’ll love, not what everyone says you “should” do. This works for every piece of your trip -- flights, accommodations, transportation, food, etc. Focus on what matters most to you and put the savings toward other activities or your next adventure!

Indie travel means you can slow down and spend all your time in one destination or move from place to place every few days. You can choose to spend a day in Berlin leisurely strolling through miles of trails in the Tiergarten or you can hop around the city on the metro, seeing the major sites. It’s all up to you!

How You Can Learn to Travel this Way

indie traveling through Llogara Pass in Albania

Experience is the best teacher, but now you don’t have to learn it all the hard way!

There is an incredible amount of information online to help indie travelers learn about their destinations. BUT there are a pile of other questions that come up when you’re planning a trip to somewhere new -- How much do I budget for my trip? How can I make sure I’m getting the most value for my money? How do I plan a route for this trip? How do I create an itinerary? 

There's a lot that happens before the idea of a trip turns into the reality of standing in the passport line waiting for your stamp. I’m hard at work making this site a one-stop shop for all your indie travel needs so you don’t have to scour the internet putting the pieces together one blog post at a time!  

Because I’m a travel planning nerd, I love helping people learn the skills and tools of indie travel -- the stuff that actually brings your trip to life! When I started planning my own trips, no one was really talking about how to put all the pieces together. This is where I’ve become an expert and have so much to share with my fellow indie travelers! To get you started, here's a step-by-step guide to planning your own trip to Europe

The best teacher is experience. That’s how I learned. Go out there and do it! For free information, sign up for my emails! You’ll get all these articles delivered right to your inbox along with travel deals, inspiration, resources, and educational events to help you create your own adventures! If you want to chat with a real person who can answer your questions and provide insight about your plans, you can schedule a one-one-one Travel Planning Session with me. I love this stuff!

Let's connect!

Indie Travel Resources

Here are some of my go-to resources when creating my own travels. If you’re ready to plan your own Europe trip, don't miss this guide

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Happy travel planning!

Now get out there! The world is waiting for you.

Your Turn

What do you think of indie travel? Is it something you enjoy or want to try?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments! 

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About the author 

Annie

Fun Lover. Food Eater. Bold Explorer. Big Dreamer.

Annie is a fiercely independent traveler who loves to create unique and interesting experiences. She thrives on finding the magical moments and hidden gems waiting around every corner. Her passion for helping others make their travel dreams come true fuels her work as a travel planner, consultant, educator, and community builder.

  • I really loved how you gave the back story of how you became a proponent of independent travel. It is inspiring. Anyone can do it!

  • Indie travel is the ONLY way to go! And the only way I have been for 30+ years in Latin America!

    One step beyond that is … Why plan every detail? Go with the wind, go with the flow. You ever know what adventure is awaiting you!

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