10 July 2013

Top 5 ways to budget-travel

As an often-broke twenty something who loves traveling, I have a knack for doing it the budget style. I can transport myself to Bangkok, Thailand for 5 days and still return home with four new pairs of heels in my new hand-carry with as little as $400. Some of my friends often ask me the same question – how do I do it? And this is the top 5 ways I make my cheap travel dream work:

1) Stay away from peak periods
Obviously. No to school holidays. No to public holidays. Just no, because the airline industry will suck on every dollar you own. A cheap $120 return trip can easily be blown out of proportion. You will just end up paying for two seats for one. So depending on where you are flying from, be sure to check when the peak periods are.

2) Early bird gets the worm
Or in this case, the best airfares. To make this work, you have to be fortunate enough to be able to foresee if you can fly out anytime in the next 5 months or so. I remember getting a return ticket to Cambodia 5 months early for $150. And just to satisfy my sadistic side of seeing people paying more than I did, I checked the ticket prices a month before the trip and omg, a one-way ticket already cost $130. WHAT, WHAT.

3) Travel light
All budget airline fares do not include check-in baggage. So obviously, throw your luggage aside and just carry a backpack. Why waste money on check-in baggages? That should save you about $50 two-way for every luggage that you decide not to bring. 

4) Forget the posh hotels
One thing for sure is that I never ever splurge on accommodations. I am telling you, I am such a huge cheapo whenever I step out of my country. I blame my bank account. But you know what? That two digits (or sometimes rare 3 digits remains) at the end of each month in my bankbook is not stopping me from seeing the world at all. Give me a decent room with a proper bed and bathroom and I’ll be contented. In third-world Asian countries, I can easily get a room at $30 a night. But of course, this al depends on your travel objectives. If you are on a honeymoon, obviously you won’t want to be sleeping in a 16sqft room with your better half. Space is just going to be too…limited for good nights. 

5) Be the local of the country you visit
I can never stress this enough. The locals don’t always cab to places nor do they always eat in expensive restaurants. If you’re visiting a third world country, I can promise you that motorbikes can easily be rented at a price so cheap you will shit your pants. Not only do you get to save money, you also get to explore places that local transports wouldn’t bring you. Also, eat street food – you will be surprised how damn good they are as compared to those in restaurants. And they are also cheap. Very very cheap you will want to go for seconds or maybe thirds. 

So there, the 5 main rules I abide to when I am broke and still want to travel. For the record, I am always broke. But this year alone, I have already travelled to 3 countries – Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia. Last 2012, I travelled to 6 countries. With discipline, this is definitely doable.  So leave your financial worries behind and go travel far and wide.

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