We are all too familiar with the common saying that we should live with no excuses and travel with no regrets. But often times, reality hits and our dreams for the perfect getaway are easily dampened as the economy sways, exchange rates fluctuate, and prices skyrocket.
But with a little perspective and some handy tips to plan a budgeted trip, Southeast Asia’s leading Travel Tech Company, Traveloka is here to empower discovery without having to break the bank.
Here are Traveloka’s top five tips to get you started on planning a vacation on a budget without compromising your dreams:
• Cash is king. Keep an eye on exchange rates prior to your trip and seize the opportunity to grab good rates to avoid having to face unnecessary transaction fees at foreign ATMs (not to mention skipping the anxiety of finding a credible ATM machine in a foreign land!).
• Additionally, setting up Price Alerts with credible travel companions such as Traveloka will enable you to receive first-hand discounts on your preferred (dream) destinations, airlines and accommodations that are tailored to your budget, allowing you to make quick economically informed decisions.
NOTE: If you haven’t already, do consider signing up with frequent flyer programmes to gain mileage points! As you accumulate your mileage with every “fly” you make, remember to check with your airline to see what you’re entitled too with the mileage earned. You may be entitled to a free flight on your next travel or perhaps a free upgrade!
• While it may sometimes be a challenge to schedule, travelling off-season is always a worthwhile decision. Hot spots where tourists would typically flock to will be less in-demand, bringing prices down significantly!
• Worth a try: planning at the eleventh hour may sometimes unlock the door (and luck) to many last-minute promos and discounts. Rely on trusty sites to get good snags on Attractions and Activities such as those offered on Traveloka to save on what would otherwise be expensive treats for the family.
• Another valuable tip: familiarise yourself with the local community calendar to leverage on free events or festivals that may be happening during your visit. Not only is this easy on your wallet, you’ll be deeply immersed in the local culture, gaining priceless experiences direct from the locals themselves.
• When selecting flights, avoid the crowd by opting for:
❖ Flights that take-off midweek instead of weekends.
❖ Flights on major holidays (not during or after!).
❖ Overnight flights - it’s “two for the price of one” as you save on spending an extra night on a place to stay.
Skip cabs and take public transit instead for a little taste of “a day in the life of a local”. If it is available, get a multi-pass to save you a good amount of moolah while having the opportunity to visit a multitude of locations. For a healthier option, rent a bike and find yourself coursing through the city (or village) life.
If you’re looking for a full-day tour around town, check with the hotel concierge for credible local driver recommendations who will offer you reasonable and comprehensive packages that would usually include several tourist spots and eating stops.
Recommendation: Download an app map or a transportation app such as Grab or Uber to get around. This is to prevent getting cheated by local taxis with exorbitant fees.
- When selecting an accommodation, leverage on those that offer free breakfast to lessen the burden of having to find one.
- Try to pack at least two meals a day by visiting the local grocery store - you’ll be surprised by the local treasures you will stumble across during your visit! We would recommend saving lunch as the “dine-out” meal of choice to skip the crowd while also embracing the cheaper meal option as portions are generally smaller then. That said, contrary to popular beliefs, dining out lavishly doesn’t always mean spending a ghastly bomb, as Michelin-starred meals too can be thrifty. For your convenience, Traveloka has put together a list of 50 of the cheapest Michelin meals around the world here: https://www.traveloka.com/special/cheapest-michelin-meals!
#5: REMEMBER: THE LITTLE THINGS DO ADD UP!
- Go off the grid and choose against getting a local mobile plan! In this day and age, WiFi has become a common feature for local stores to offer to draw guests - rendering connectivity easy and accessible.
- We all need water. So, bring your own re-usable water bottles on your trip to avoid having to purchase bottles of water on-the-go. Boil water in your room or ask the hotel’s restaurant to help fill your bottles before starting your day!
- Pack your own basic medical kit: band aids, Panadol, charcoal pills (for the upset stomach), flu pills etc. to avoid having to search and purchase locally or risk having your dream vacation compromised.
Now that you’re armed with the “know-hows”, it’s time to start considering the “where-tos”. Here are some destinations for thought when planning your next frugal vacation:
1. TAIPEI, TAIWAN
As the capital of Taiwan, Taipei is a culturally-rich destination that never fails to captivate travellers from near and far with its intriguing blend of old town districts and modern skyscrapers. Fuelled and filled with genuinely friendly people, Taipei has much to offer with its charming museums, cultural sites, shopping areas, delicious cuisines and many more.
Things to do:
✦ Hike up Elephant Mountain and admire the majestic views of Taipei 101
✦ Take a day trip to Jiufen - the traditionally stunning “Santorini” of Taiwan
✦ Drop by Ximending to experience the “happening” side of Taiwan with its bustling nightlife and exuberant food vendors across the city.
2. HANOI, VIETNAM
Budget travellers and food lovers shouldn’t miss out on the attractions of Hanoi – a booming city with a blend of both Asian and European influence. Hanoi has plenty to offer from its dramatic landscapes of French colonial buildings to fascinating history, and not to mention mouth-watering street food which will leave you craving for more!
Things to do:
✦ Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - Final resting place of Vietnam’s first Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, also known as “Uncle Ho” by locals.
✦ Pop by a local cafe and sip on some ca phe (Vietnamese coffee).
✦ Enjoy the Thang Long Water Puppet Show – the visually stunning story of harvest that depicts the local Vietnamese’s day-to-day in the rural.
3. SHANGHAI, CHINA
As one of China’s burgeoning metropolis, Shanghai constantly exudes energy and excitement that permeates the world and is very much a favoured destination among tourists. This striking city - due to the unique blends of traditional Chinese architecture clad with European influenced buildings - sets up the perfect playground for photography lovers.
Things to do:
✦ Take a stroll through Tianzifang’s alleyways packed with street food and lively bars.
✦ Visit the 8th cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, Lao Zheng Xing.
✦ Experience a world where fantastical dreams come true at Shanghai’s Disneyland!
Sometimes, maybe a little change in perspective is needed: the world isn’t all that big and neither are your dreams! All it really takes is a little discernment, proper planning, and careful preparation. Don’t let the restraints of a tight budget hold you back from exploring the world and taking that dream vacation.
Mr. Halif Hamzah, Traveloka Country Manager for Malaysia and Singapore shared, “Everyone should - and must - travel at least once in their lifetime, whether it may be a short getaway or a long way away. It enriches one’s soul, creates a wealth of invaluable experiences, sparks and spurs creativity, and promotes personal growth. We should not be held back by the means of the world that hinders us from fulfilling our travel desires.”
“We are blessed to be living in a digital age where we are riding on the crest of the wave of new technology. As the leading Travel Tech company in the region, it is our duty to constantly strive to innovate and empower the people with tools to make travel not only possible, but convenient for all - to enable the people to go forth and live their dreams in discovering the world,” said Mr. Halif.
For more information on Traveloka, visit https://www.traveloka.com/en-my/.