[Updated 18 November 2020]
Travelling may seem like a far-fetched idea considering the world is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It's an unfortunate time to visit and explore different countries, but it doesn't mean you should stop dreaming about your next travel adventure.
To make the most of the situation, you can continue planning for your dream getaway, so you'll be ready to explore once it's safe to travel. If you're clueless about where to start, we're ready to share some super easy steps you can do to plan for your future holiday.
1. Save money for your future vacay
The thing about staying indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic is that you'll spend lesser than you would normally do. No expensive brunch at your favourite cafe, no fancy lattes for your caffeine fix, and no daily Grab rides to work. When you look at the big picture, you'll be surprised by how much these savings will add up over time.
Let's say the price for a cup of caramel macchiato is RM17. If you're used to enjoying it every morning, sacrificing this weekday routine will save you RM85 a week or in total, RM340 a month! That's enough to buy a return ticket to Singapore or book a night's stay in a hotel in Tokyo. Never underestimate what these small savings or sacrifices can do to your travel fund. If you're not ready to give up on your morning coffee, there are more ways to save money and see the world.
2. Check your passport validity
Before you get all excited to plan for your future travel adventure, check your passport validity. Since you won't be travelling for a while, you might lose track of your passport's expiry date. If you're travelling internationally, your passport should have at least 6 months of validity, and most immigration officers would count right down to your date of birth.
Find out how long it takes to renew your passport in your country. It may only take 2-3 hours to renew your passport in Malaysia and 4 working days in Indonesia, but it takes 2-3 weeks to receive your new passport in Singapore. Save yourself from last-minute passport panic, and set a reminder on your phone. That way, you'll instantly know when you should be heading to the immigration department.
3. Go solo or choose your travel buddies
Choosing to travel solo or in a group will make a huge difference to your trip. Hence, it's important to decide your travel style early on. I initially planned to travel solo to South Korea last year, but my mother joined me because she has never been to Seoul before. Since we were both first-timers to the country, we went through a few challenges and travel hiccups. We may have our bad days here and there, but it turned out to be one of the most memorable and rewarding travel experiences I've ever had with my mother.
It was also a fulfilling experience for my teammates Shasha who travelled solo to Seoul, Faruq who went to Hong Kong with his parents, as well as our HHWT co-founders Suzana and Melvin who went on their first European trip as a married couple! Choosing to travel with or without a companion matter in determining the outcome and experience you want for your trip.
4. Check travel discounts and flight offers
As travel restrictions are happening across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry as a whole, including aviation, hotels, attractions, and tour agencies, are faced with lesser revenues and bookings during this trying time. Once the situation gets better, you can definitely expect more travel discounts, value-for-money promotions, and attractive flight deals to entice travellers. When that happens, take advantage of these huge travel deals to make the most of your future getaways.
Besides that, travelling domestically is definitely cheaper too! A few months ago, I spent a three-day weekend with my family at Taman Negara in Pahang. There's a resort that offered a 3D2N package for RM730 per person for international tourists, but only RM450 per person for Malaysians (and we gladly took it)! Thanks to another school holiday promotion, I once stayed three nights at Club Med Cherating for the total price of RM1,800, and the average price was RM3,500. Remember to explore the beauty (and attractive travel deals) in your own backyard too!
P.S. For our Singaporean readers, click here for everything you need to know about SingapoRediscovers $100 vouchers and how to use them!
5. Plan your travel itinerary
One of the most time-consuming aspects of travelling is the itinerary. Whether you're deciding on how much you'll be spending in a restaurant or researching the location of your accommodation, you'll be sitting in front of the laptop for hours.
After years going on tours and breezing through free-and-easy trips, our teammate Shasha found joy in planning out her itinerary from start to finish (the photo above is a glimpse of her itinerary!). No doubt that the research can be a hassle, but it's important to take time to plan thoroughly, so you won't end up with an itinerary that backfires during your trip. Shasha also shared some of her favourite itinerary planning tips!
- Step 1: Pick out a good time and place to visit
- Step 2: Confirm the major details of your trip
- Step 3: Pick a budget and try to stick to it
- Step 4: Check what the seasons will bring
- Step 5: Pin your destinations on Google's MyMap
- Step 6: Figure out how you're going to get around
- Step 7: Set aside time at the end of each day to review your plans
She even shared a useful and informative guide on how to execute these planning tips and prepare the ultimate travel itinerary. We promise you that this is the only guide to itinerary planning that you'll ever need!
6. Prepare for common travel emergencies
If there's one thing we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is to stay prepared! When refining your itinerary, prepare yourself for worst-case scenarios, unexpected flight changes, and also travel emergencies. What if a volcano erupted in Bali and the airports are closed? What if you got scammed in Paris and lost your valuables? What if you bought tickets to see Tokyo 2020, but the Olympics got postponed to 2021? All of these events actually happened in real life!
Weigh possible worst-case scenarios that might happen during your trip, and prepare a back-up plan to avoid making a regrettable decision in the moment of panic. Yes, and that includes reading the terms and conditions of your travel insurance, third-party accommodation booking, and flight tickets. You never know when you'll be facing a 6-hour flight delay or fully-booked hotel.
7. Try something new
Now that you can save more money for your wild adventure, how about crossing off an activity from your bucketlist? Skydiving has been on my bucket list for the longest time (and I'm sure it's the same for many of you). When I was in New Zealand for a work trip, I had the chance to do tandem skydiving at Skydive Auckland. It was the most exhilarating thing I've ever done, and as someone who is afraid of heights, I never regretted overcoming my fears and taking that leap of faith that day. It's still pretty nerve-wracking to think about it, and you can read all about my skydiving experience here!
If you must know, our team at Have Halal, Will Travel consists of many adventurous like-minds. When our teammate Faruq travelled to Switzerland, paragliding wasn't part of his initial itinerary but he decided to try this once-in-a-lifetime experience anyway! "Seeing a bird's eye view of the valley and the mountain towns in miniature was unbelievable," he shared while including many breathtaking nature photos from his amazing paragliding adventure! If you're planning to cross off your bucket list, make the most of the situation and save up in advance. Let's face it, these experiences don't come cheap. Once it's okay to travel again, you'll be more than ready to embark on the adventure of your lifetime!
8. Create the ultimate packing list
Anyone else is guilty of creating a packing list the day before they leave for the airport? Packing may be the most dreaded part of travelling (aside from doing post-travel laundry), but the best way to make it more bearable is by having a list ready! If you travel often, you'll quickly realise that your packing list is pretty much the same for every trip.
You'll bring the same essentials like travel adapter, reusable water bottle, passport and flight tickets, toothbrush, and medicine wherever you go. Instead of wasting your time thinking and rewriting, create an ultimate packing list on your phone, so you can refer to it each time. The next time you travel again, whip up your phone and get straight to packing. It's also a good tip to ensure that you won't leave any travel essentials behind, like toothpaste!
#HHWTTip: To master the art of packing, check out these smart packing hacks that'll save you massive luggage space!
9. Buy travel essentials early
What you'll bring to a tropical getaway will be different compared to a winter holiday. Anyone else is also guilty of last-minute shopping? If there's one thing we learned from travelling is to always purchase your travel essentials in advance.
A few years ago, I went to Xi'an, China in January, which is one of the coldest months of the year. To prepare myself for winter, I planned to buy a pair of winter boots on Lazada but procrastinated until the month before the trip.
What I didn't realise was that it'll take one month for those boots to arrive because it'll be shipped from overseas. I had no choice but to give up on the boots and settled for another pair with a design that I wasn't so fond of (thankfully, it kept me warm). So don't make the same mistake as I did. If you've been thinking of getting your camera equipment online or pre-ordering your winter coat, do it now when you have more time to receive it.
10. Stay hopeful that you'll travel again when the time is right
This past year have been challenging for all of us, especially for anyone with a passion for travelling. It may not be the best time to explore and see the world right now, but nothing keeps our passion alive than staying hopeful. Some day, when everything goes back to where we were before the pandemic hit, we'll relive our wildest adventures once more. Echoing a very inspiring article by our teammate Atiqah, we shouldn't stop dreaming of travelling, even if we can't do it now. She writes, "because like all things, this too shall pass, and when that time comes, travellers will go out into the world seeking new places and experiences, as we've always done."
Travelling may be sitting on the backburner right now, but dreaming of our next destination is something we should never stop doing. Whether you're planning to cross off your bucket list or dreaming of a family holiday with the kids, go ahead and plan like you always do. When it's finally safe to travel again, the long wait will all be worth it.