Planning for travel, especially on a budget, can be a daunting task. But, fear not, we have the right tips for you!
By Catherine Tan
Travel planning can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially for overseas travel. Below are some tips that might save you some time, money, and your sanity!
1. Try Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a social networking service for travelers and hosts. Free lodging a.k.a “couchsurf” can be in the form of literally sleeping on your hosts’ sofa or in any sort of accommodation they offer you for free. Hosts on the Couchsurfing platform may also offer a peek into their lives or show you around the city by introducing you to hidden gems and giving money-saving tips for local sights and activities. Experiences vary for everyone depending on the combination of host and couchsurfer, but you can indeed make life-long friends through the platform.
2. Pick up your phone and start contacting overseas friends
Start contacting your friends who are based overseas such as those who work overseas, exchange students you met in college, etc. Some of them might be more than happy to host you and show you around. After all, they know more about their place and you can discover hidden gems that only locals would know. Ask them about local eateries and accommodation that will fit into your budget. Plus, you get to travel and hang out with people you know beside expanding your horizons. But, be sure to return the favor and be the best host when they visit your home country.
3. Plan at least one year in advance
A large expedition trip requires a lot of time and effort. It takes time to research, get advice, and also to get yourself mentally prepared. Most importantly, you need to set aside budget for every trip you wish to go. For example, you can prepare a journal or notes detailing budget, lodging, prices of every flights options, etc. to help you managing your itinerary efficiently. Do start as early as possible to avoid any confusion and unexpected situation that arise from poor planning. If you travel with a buddy or group, ask for their help and contribution of ideas.
4. Keep track of the latest flights promotion
If you have a destination in mind but doesn’t have a fixed date yet, use Google Flights to track and get notifications for promo flights. With this, you can compare prices by airlines and estimated date to fly. Do bear in mind that prices of flights are constantly changing. Choose within your budget and timing. Remember to check back with the airline company a few months before flying to avoid any confusion or misinformation.
5. Invest in a set of travel essentials
This will include travel bagpacks, small-/mid-size luggage, universal adaptor, travel jackets, and comfortable walking shoes that are durable at best value that you can use for every type of trip. You do not have to buy new ones every time you travel. Save the money for new experiences on the actual trip. Reuse or borrow from family members and friends but be sure to use it wisely. Travel essentials are important to ensure a smooth journey. You do not want broken luggage bags or worn out shoes while travelling as it can hinder your plan and ruin the mood.
6. Keep track of places you have explored
Use apps like TravelStoke (Google Play, App Store) or Visited (Google Play, App Store). Apps like these encourage you to travel and explore places you have not been to. You can also find hidden gems to visit from these applications. With TravelStoke, you can discover cool places and locals to get better insights and tips during your trip. For example, by using the Visited app, you can build your own map and tick off the different countries you’ve visited while discovering new places you haven’t seen yet.
7. Practice self-control
If you have a relatively flexible work schedule and are open to exploring new places, you can consider using apps like Hitlist (Google Play , App Store) to mark new places you wish to visit and get notifications when there are cheap flights available. Do note that sometimes deals might be too attractive to resist! Always use with caution and self-control. You should also be mindful about other expenses during the trip such as lodging and transportation. If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can opt for walking and using public transport for cheaper alternative. Speaking of expenses, this comes to our next point….
8. Calculate your travel budget
Use applications like TrabeePocket (Google Play, App Store) to calculate your travel budget before your trip and record travel expenses during your trip. This reduces chances of overspending. Avoid to spend lavishly on unnecessary stuff like a 5-star hotel or very expensive souvenirs. Instead, opt for a walking tour or free gallery visit to know more about the culture and locals. Experiences do not have to be expensive to be meaningful.
9. Money matters
Always have a currency exchange app like XE Currency (Google Play, App Store) on the home page of your phone. It always come in handy especially if you need a quick money conversion during payment. Do remember to convert your money with local currency as early as possible to avoid confusion. Do check for a good money changer agency around your area.
10. Familiarize with local languages
Learn the local languages before you visit the country. Not only might you get friendlier treatment, you may even get discounts too at times. Speaking the language will get you far and easier to make new friends. Alternatively, you can download translation apps like Translate Now (Google Play, App Store). By using this app, you can translate by using voice, typing, or picture. It’s hassle-free and you only need a stable internet connection.
11. Book yourself a free local walking tour
Every country has free walking tour. It is always one of the best ways to meet new friends and to get an overview of the city in order to plan your route later on. Even though it is a free walking tour, you should always tip the guide unless they did a terrible job.
12. Get some advice
Talk to experienced travel planners and financial planners to get advice on how to build your travel funds without eating roti every day. Good planning can ensure a smooth journey without burning a hole in your pocket. Talk with your financial planner and have a good budget outlined.
Budget travelling doesn’t mean you cannot have the trip of a lifetime. It’s all about the planning and mindset. Be mindful and appreciate the local culture. Just remember to stay safe and watch for your health during your journey.
Have tips on how to travel with minimal budget? Share with us in the comment section below.