I love to travel – exploring something new, absorbing the sights and sounds of a new place, eating the local food, and enjoying the local beer. My bucket list is so long I don’t even don’t know where to begin. Travelling is challenging given the limited vacation leave, difficulty of finding a good travel buddy you are in sync with, having a travel buddy that has conflicting schedule with yours, or worse limited budget.
I want to share with you 6 tips, which I personally found useful, to help you travel on a budget.
1. Allocate a travel fund as part of your monthly budget – 10% Tithes + 20% Save & Invest + 70% Expenses
There are 2 approaches to this:
a) Out of the 70% of your expenses, get a certain percentage to be allocated to your travel budget. After a certain period of time, you can then plan your travel based on the available amount. Example: Allot 5% which is equivalent to 200S$, after 6 months you will have 1,200S$ which may be more than enough if you want to travel somewhere in Asia.
b) Identify your next travel, who, where and when. Estimate the travel amount needed for airfare, place to stay and pocket money for food, transportation, shopping, etc. Also, note include in your budget if you will be paying for your travel buddy example your wife or parents. Based on the remaining months to travel, compute for the fixed amount for your travel budget. If the fixed amount seems unrealistic, then adjust your travel to somewhere else or another time.
Example: I want to travel to Japan for 1 week in November 2016 which will roughly cost 2,000S$. So if I save starting this month, which means I only have 6 months to save equivalent to around 350S$ per month. Check if this an amount you are comfortable with and if not maybe move your trip by another 3 months.
2. Be clear on your objective for a particular trip
It is important to identify who you are going with, where you are going and what you are planning to do in the trip as this will impact the money you need to budget.
It may be a simple trip to Hanoi that you just want to go to Halong Bay, eat Pho and spring roll, drink the local beer and just have a relaxing holiday then the money you may need may not be a lot.
But if you are going for a shopping spree in Thailand, though shopping and food is cheap but once you accumulate the amount of money you need for shopping you may need to budget more.
The extreme case is if you want to stay in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for 3 days which is a happy place for kids and kids at heart but can set back your budget by spending around 550S$ per day or 1,650S$ for 3 days.
3. Plan your payments and pay it on a staggered basis
Plan your itinerary in advance and schedule the payment for the things you can pay in advance. Example I will be travelling to Japan: Month 1 – pay the airfare. Month 2 – pay the hotel or place you will be staying. Month 3 – pay the Japan Rail Pass as it is cheaper when you are pre-booking while you are still not in Japan, getting the JR Pass that makes sense based on your trip. Month 4 – book and pay for the attractions you will go to like USJ or Disney Sea.
4. Compare, compare, compare the airfare
Research and compare the airfare that suits you. I didn’t say cheapest because sometimes the cheapest has horrible flight schedules that you may end up arriving at your dream destination late at night or leaving very early morning or worse is having a transit flight with very long layover that is eating your precious vacation leave. Other tips are look for travel fairs, wait for airline promotions, use your miles, if you have, and booking early for peak seasons.
When I do my research and comparison, I create an excel file and simulate the airfare cost for the different airlines until you are about to pay as some charges are not in first page but are added later on. I record the different prices in the Excel file and take a screenshot.
Don’t be afraid to look at the flag carrier as sometimes it is cheaper than the budget airlines like Philippine Airlines can be sometimes cheaper than Cebu Pacific or Tiger.
5. Find the perfect place to stay
You need to go back to your objective so that you can assess what type of place you want to stay example: 3 star hotel, hostel or a flat rented via Airbnb. Again, research and compare the places you want to stay in via the hotel website, Agoda booking or Airbnb. Make sure the place you will stay is accessible to the nearest MRT, bus or public transport. You don’t want to be spending a lot of money for taxis aside from being expensive, it limits your interaction with the locals and your exposure to the sights and sounds of the foreign country.
6. Plan your itinerary in advance
Identify the places you will visit and what is the best way to get there so that you don’t waste time looking for the places or you end up getting a taxi because you are pressed for time.
Know yourself and allot some rest time if you need it. Do not stress yourself to go to all the tourist spots and you end up getting sick and not enjoying the rest of your holiday.
Plan for Option A and B just in case the group is too tired or need to have a break from walking or if you are running behind your schedule or some of the people in the group are not keen to a certain tourist spot.
Research also on where you can get the cheapest entrance tickets to attractions. Sharing with you a blog I wrote about saving on the Singapore tourist attractions: http://bit.ly/1XNdtHO
Here’s to ticking more countries off from our bucket list! Happy travelling. 🙂