I know a lot of friends have been telling me that I’m mad – traveling multiple times in a year. How do I find time for it? How do I even get that many leaves to do it? And most importantly, how do I afford it?
Of course, it would be nice to have deep pockets (which I don’t) or parents with that kind of money – but I travel on my own expenses. And yes, travel comes at a price for sacrifice. Here’s how I do it.
BOOK FLIGHTS IN ADVANCE
How me and boyfriend do it is that we plan, schedule and book our trips months in advance. I’ve come to realize that most flights over 6 months and more tend to be pretty reasonable and sometimes, downright cheap (We just booked a trip to Jakarta in January 2015 for November 2015 – at only RM250 per person including baggage and tax, plus 3 meals. That is a MAJOR deal!) We usually plan and book 9 months ahead (Our May 2015 Bali trip had been booked since August last year, so now we’re just waiting to go), which not only saves us some extra money on flight expenses, but also gives us ample time to save up spending money to enjoy the trip fully.
TWO WORDS: AIRLINE SALES
Subscribe to airliner’s social media channels and feeds, and keep a look out for sales and markdowns. I know AirAsia’s famous for their flash sales that sometimes last a few hours to a few days. There are even free seat promos in between where you only pay for airport taxes and add-ons – so keep your eyes peeled for these deals – you can save hundreds of dollars on your flight.
DELETE BROWSING HISTORY
Each time you look at a certain flight or hotel, the website tracks what you were looking at – so when the next time you look at the same thing again, you may notice how the prices increases bit by bit? It’s definitely no coincidence! So clear your browsing history so that the airlines/hotel websites are unable to track your previous searches. As much as some of these companies want to deny it, it is also tried and proven by many travellers.
USE COMPARISON SITES/APPS
One such app is Skyscanner, which helps you compared your flight prices between different airlines – and to pick the cheaper options. For hotels, I usually book from either Agoda or Expedia – both which offer competitive and cheap prices. I had great experiences with both booking sites, so you can definitely book with ease. Some hotels in their list even allow free cancellation, but do read the terms and conditions beforehand.
WEDNESDAYS ARE CHEAP DAYS
This is a no-brainer – but it is true. People don’t generally like to fly mid-week since it would require them to take extra leaves, but these are the days where there are less crowds and you get to save more money too! I was actually quite skeptical about announcing this, as I imagined now that everyone knows, Wednesdays would be packed and prices would shift to go up! But sharing is caring, and I care for you guys! I still believe that many who can afford it would not fly mid-week and would pay the extra moolah for a weekend flight instead.
|Image from Google|
HAVE FLEXIBLE DATES & TIMING
When you plan a trip, try to be flexible – sometimes the late flights are the cheaper ones (by a lot too!) and flying the red eye is not so bad, to be honest. If you noticed, the early morning and late evening flights are always the cheaper flights as opposed to those slotted between 10am to 4pm, and some dates are cheaper than others. If you can afford to be flexible with timing and your dates, you can definitely save quite a bit. I always try to work around a 2-day flexibility between my arrival and departure – and as for timing, the later, the better. I can’t tolerate 6am flights, but red eye flights from 9pm onwards are fine by me.
PICK DESTINATIONS BEYOND BIG CITIES
Places like Paris, Rome, London are great – but living within the city is going to cost you a bomb. I’d suggest going to stay on the outskirts of the city and enjoy the countryside or coastal towns. There’s a lot more culture to be seen and experienced (rather than the same malls you find in most cities). You can always make a day trip down to the city to have a glimpse of it, but in the end, you’ll get more out of your trip than you’d ever imagine by staying in the outskirts. With cheaper lodging, you can afford to spend more on transportation to get around. Be adventurous!
LEARN TO LOVE THE LOW SEASONS
I love low seasons for a few reasons – less crowd, prices are not marked-up, you get to see and interact with more locals, cheaper flights, cheaper tours, cheaper accommodation… the list goes on. It’s quieter and you get to get the best out of your holiday without squeezing through big crowds of bodies and queue in line to see attractions. This was very evident when we were in Krabi in 2013 – the beaches were quiet and calm and the water sports were cheap. Even expensive activities are so much cheaper during this period, and you get to do things that you usually would never pay a high price for. I just have to stress how much I love the no-crowd situation, it is my biggest travel pet peeve.
|Good times in Max Brenner, Melbourne|
This is one of the main things which helped save us a ton of cash – FRIENDS! When we were in Australia last year, we were lucky to have friends living in Melbourne & Brisbane. Not only we got free accommodation for the length of our stay (two weeks!), we were also lucky to be given a spare car to use – which we only paid for the gas – to explore Brisbane and Gold Coast on our own! We literally spent zero cash on accommodation – and repaid these friends by cooking for them or buying some groceries. Another great thing – free tour guides. On the weekends in Melbourne, my cousin who’s staying in Melbourne, brought us to visit the Chandon winery and some breweries and introduced a few good dining spots too. So trust me on this, friends (and family) abroad are a BIG HELP.
LESS SHOPPING & EATING OUT
It sucks, but if travel is your number one priority, it is a sacrifice one has to pay. I’ve cut down considerably on my shopping, and only shop online once in a while. Food isn’t cheap these days (and the cheap ones aren’t healthy either) so me and my boyfriend do weekly grocery shopping, and prep and cook our lunches for each day. That’s about RM100 saved in a week! The only time we do eat out are on occasional weekend dates and food reviews (which are free, of course).
Well, I hope you learnt a thing or two from this list. I practice each and every point stated here diligently for all my travels (okay maybe not so much on the shopping part) and I hope you will too!
Any other exciting ways to save on travel that you know of? Do tell. 😉