Travel is such a refreshing thing to do once in a while. It offers a whole new perspective about things, and it makes us marvel at the world outside our everyday life. Of course, it doesn’t come free, especially when it’s something you personally plan out. So how do you make a getaway easy on the pocket while at the same time absolutely worth it? Here are some fresh practical tips.
- Take public transport. If you’re visiting a country where public transportation such as trains and buses are quite efficient, go ahead and experience how locals go about their normal commute. In Hong Kong, for instance, people rely so much on trains, though their stations might seem a little overwhelming for first-timers, and the sheer size of their terminals can really get someone lost if one is not paying attention to the alphabet entry and exit signs. Meanwhile, in Singapore, buses seem like the more popular means of transport, so finding the nearest stop to where you’re staying is key. Downloading the app Visit a City has been absolutely helpful in my recent travels because it shows point to point directions to where your destination is, specifically indicating how long you need to walk to the where the bus stop or train station is, and even what line to hop on and which exit to come out. Yes, there’s taxi and Uber in most metros, but the amount you save from taking the train or the bus plus the experience of being with the locals and observing their lifestyle is absolutely worth it. If you’re not so much at ease about public commute, maybe it’s time to go out of your comfort zone.
- Itinerary and accommodation should be well coordinated. Yes, nothing compares to the thrill of being spontaneous when you’re on a trip and discovering a new place without a structured plan or a travel guide. However, it’s also potentially costly, especially if you’re not quite familiar with the locale’s public transport or simply where you’re headed. When deciding on the place to stay, consider if it’s near the train station, the bus stop, or is only walking distance to where one plans to go. Also, check out if there’s a convenience store or a good restaurant nearby, because sometimes when things don’t turn out as you hoped they would, at least there’s always a back-up plan. One time, my husband and I walked a couple of yards hoping to try the best dim sum in HK, but when we got there, the queue wasn’t really what we expected, and we were already so famished. Because it was quite late, it was a little difficult to find a decent yet affordable resto. So, I thought, if we can’t find any other place, then at least there’s always noodles in 7 Eleven across our hotel. But lucky for us, we were able to find another restaurant that serves great Chinese food at a latte hour.
- Get an Airbnb accommodation. You will enjoy more flexibility when booking an entire place to yourself because it usually allows use of other facilities that are normally not provided in hotels. It’s easy to find an Airbnb accommodation that would suit your needs, whether it be with a kitchen, a jacuzzi, or a pool. You’ll be able to save a lot because you can simply shop for some groceries and cook at home. Dining out to enjoy a good steak and a few drinks can be expensive, but if you fancy having a cookout party outside your rented apartment by the pool with some wine, you’ll be surprised how little it costs to have so much fun. Just make sure though to keep the place and all things in it in good order before checkout, otherwise, there’s a hefty fee for leaving the place untidy and unkempt. Treat the home as the owner would, and you would get a good review as a customer.
- See what’s going on while you’re in the area. It’s always so easy to go where other people have gone before. But just because your friend went to this place and did this doesn’t mean that’s exactly what you should do as well when you visit. One might be surprised to see off-the-beaten path activities when travelling. When in Auckland on Valentines Day, there’s a music festival in the heart of the city, all for free and with a very laid-back crowd. It could be the perfect romantic thing to do in a foreign country on such a special occasion. On Saturday nights, you might also chance on a local fair, as we did when we visited the lovely and scenic Rotorua. There was so much delectable food everywhere. It was absolutely difficult to resist the call of good grub at a cheap price. Further, if there’s anything you shouldn’t miss when visiting a city, I believe it’s museum tours. The rates are usually reasonably priced and within the means of the public, so make the most of it to enrich yourself and to be able to develop a deeper understanding of the people and the culture.
- Share if a meal is good for two. In some countries, food serving is relatively bigger than what one might be used to. If you’re someone from the Philippines, then cases in point would be New Zealand and Malaysia, where entrees are served in more generous amount. One time I tried my best finishing something Vietnamese, which was absolutely yummy, by the way, but failed. So, my husband and I figured that we might as well share food rather than order food that we would just throw away. However, please mind that certain rules of etiquette in some countries prohibit sharing. Generally, though, it’s okay to share if each of you order something, which is demanded out of respect for the proprietor. Thus, one way to go around that and still save is to simply order food served in small portions.
- Manage your time well. Getting great value from your travel also depends on your ability to plan your activities wisely. Therefore, a well thought out itinerary is everything. When planning to go to a theme park, whether it’s Universal Studios or Disneyland, you have to know ahead when the place opens and what time it closes, what hour is the fireworks or where and when will you catch the Minions for a photo opportunity. Otherwise, coming in late during the day could mean not being able to fully enjoy what you actually paid for, which usually includes unlimited rides and an entire day of surveying the park. But one of the worst things about not managing your time well when on vacation is being late for your flight. Certainly, you would not want to spend unnecessarily on something twice, and remember that rebooking a flight is quite costly.
All in all, be a smart globetrotter. A wonderful vacation does not have to be very expensive if only you take the time to plan ahead.