[Updated 27 March 2020]
There’s a viral saying that goes,
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Unknown
But have you always read the quote and reacted like this instead:
Travel is meaningful no matter what budget you're at, but saving up for a trip can feel like a heartache. Don’t worry - as avid travellers ourselves, we totally get your woes! That’s why we’ve compiled these 10 useful tips for you to keep your travel expenses in check. ?
1. Break down your budget
It can be daunting to start saving up for a trip that costs $1000 or more. If you have several months to plan, break it down into smaller amounts (e.g. flight, accommodations, daily spending) and then set aside a fixed sum each day or month so that it adds up.
P.S. Conquer 2 birds with one stone and pair your savings with your goals. Put some money into your adventure fund whenever you achieve a habit you're striving for. Remembered to water your plant today? That's another $5 into the box! Those small numbers will eventually add up. ?
2. Book the most affordable flights
Once you've decided on a destination, it's time to book your flights before the seats run out. ✈ The best bet for scoring cheap airfare is travelling during off-peak seasons! For instance, flights and accommodation rates in Greece tend to be cheaper in spring or autumn.
But what if you only have the shoulder seasons (between peak and off-peak periods) to travel? Fret not – airlines often have good online promotions that you should always keep an eye out for! Even better if you’ve already set your mind on your preferred destination months in advance, so you can jump on offers any time they appear on your social media feeds. ?
If you have any safety hesitations on booking that budget flight, prepare for rainy days by purchasing travel insurance. Now, we know that sounds contradictory to keeping your expenses low, but this actually ensures you avoid incurring extra charges while booking your flight!
Furthermore, travel insurance helps alleviate your loss in any unforeseen circumstances. In the worst-case scenarios where your flights get cancelled or delayed, or your baggage is lost halfway around the world from you - travel insurance can help you recoup some of the loss. ? It'll also give you some peace of mind, especially if you're flying on an unfamiliar airline to a new destination.
Find out 7 more hacks to score cheap flights here
3. Making the ultimate decision: SIM Card VS Wi-Fi
Some of us need to connect with our loved ones at home, while others are simply social media junkies. Whether it’s to post your travels on Instagram or to navigate with Google Maps, Wi-Fi and cellular data have become a travel essential, and deciding where to get yours can really affect your expenses!
The question is, should you get a SIM Card or a portable Wi-Fi router? While both are readily offered by a variety of providers, you should do your research before deciding which is best for your destination. For instance, it may be cheaper to get WiFi if you’re going on a short trip nearby, or to a remote destination where cellular data reception may be spotty.
4. Share your data plans with travel buddies!
If you're travelling together, cutting down on travel expenses is so much easier. Simply share the cost for one router with friends and you spend less on Wi-Fi overall. We recommend this only if you're both following the exact same itinerary throughout the entire trip - you don't want anyone to get stranded without Wi-Fi!
5. Kick-start your budget right from the planning phase
It always benefits budget travellers to plan every detail of your adventure, as spontaneous as we’d love to be. ? When sketching out your itinerary, create an excel sheet for your estimated daily expenses! This should consist of transportation fees, accommodation, meals and others. Make sure to keep a small amount aside as an emergency fund - if something bad does happen, you'll want to make sure you still have enough to get you home!
To ease the planning process, use online travel planners such as Changi Recommends or TripAdvisor to get started! You can even pre-book your tickets online to iconic activities such as Tokyo Disneyland, Gold Coast's Movieworld theme park, Seoul's Everland theme park and more. ? Forget having to queue up for hours when you can be ready to go before your plane even takes off!
Additionally, you could download useful mobile apps to track your expenditure while you’re there. Taking these useful steps in your planning phase will help you limit your spending to only the necessities, but it doesn’t mean you need to completely avoid shopping or splurging on meals! Planning should also give you some allowance to treat yourself - just make sure it doesn’t happen often. ?
6. Choose street food to cut down on meals!
The most affordable of meals are usually found on the streets and lucky for you, that means trying out more local delicacies! Not only do you cut down on your food bills, but you also get to experience dining like a local.
We know it might be hard to find halal local street food though. ☹️ Other than referring to our halal food guides
for tips, why not cook your own meals while you’re abroad? After all, the cost of a restaurant meal often equates to a week’s worth of groceries and home-cooked meals.
: Cooking your own meals doesn’t mean you have to miss out on local flavours! Use your WiFi to find the nearest supermarkets for halal authentic local ingredients and spices. If you're in Tokyo you can visit these 14 convenience stores and halal marts
to find halal meat, bento, and more. There are also many halal marts across Korea
that sell anything you need to fix yourself a delicious meal!
7. Do your research on local transportation options
Transportation systems differ across countries and your preferred mode can really make or break your budget goals. In cities such as Japan, the most common modes of transportation are public buses, trains and subways, because they’re much more affordable than taking taxis.
When travelling across different cities, find out if there are special tourist travel passes, such as the Japan Rail (JR) Pass in Japan. The JR Pass will be undergoing several changes in 2020 - find out what travellers can look forward to here
8. Keep an eye out for tourist price hikes!
That said, we tend to get so caught up with snagging supposedly discounted tourist passes that we fail to realize when some of them are actually more expensive!
When contemplating over which tourist passes you should purchase, analyse the details carefully beforehand. Sometimes, these passes include admissions that you weren’t even intending to visit. Other times, the pass benefits can limit your plans too much that you end up spending more to make up for where it falls short. (This is where good pre-trip planning and budgeting will come in!) Some websites such as Changi Recommends offer cheaper door prices to attractions as well as tours. These include open-dated tickets to several theme parks, which can be used on any day of the year – including black-out dates and even when the park is full!
P.S. Open-dated tickets to popular attractions such as Tokyo DisneySea can make visiting during off-peak periods super convenient! If rain or other stormy weather looks like it might affect your plans, you'll have enough flexibility to do something else instead and come back another day. ?
9. Live like a local
Since you’re already in a foreign country, why not live like the locals? Homestays, Airbnbs and hostels offer the perfect opportunity to both save on accommodation and interact with locals. Hotels are still a great option but tend to be pricier - however, this may pay off in both accessibility and convenience!
But before you decide on your location, the most important step is deciding what attractions you’d like to visit and whether you need halal food nearby. Booking your accommodation near these places will help to cut down on unnecessary transportation costs to get to your destinations.
Make sure to check if the accommodation provides any free or paid Wi-Fi and connectivity. As there’s a risk of Wi-Fi portable routers provided by lodgings being unreliable, we highly recommend renting your own just in case!
10. Speak like the locals
Part of the fun in planning your trip is learning bits of the local language! In certain places, salespersons are more inclined to give you discounts if you bargain or establish good relations by speaking their language. And what better way to improve your skills than immersing yourself in the country? ?
Furthermore, in any case of emergency or unexpected circumstances, avoiding miscommunication and unwanted costs is much easier when you are sufficiently proficient in the local language. Think of it as an everyday form of insurance while you're on the ground. ?
So, there you have it – keeping to your trip’s budget is that simple! You just have to stick to these 10 tips to get the best bargains.
Go forth, fellow travellers – have the trip of a lifetime without worrying about breaking the bank! ?