7 smart tips for budget travelers
MANILA – If you want to see the world but your budget is limited, the best time to take off will be during the off-peak season, which we have just entered. Airline ticket prices are usually much lower during this period, and so are the rates for lodging and accommodations, which make for the right conditions for traveling on a shoestring budget.
Relatively lower prices are not the only perks of off-season travel. It also means less crowded destinations, without the usual summer crowd of beachcombers or the throngs of people who converge in Baguio or other favorite vacation places during Holy Week or Christmastime. Airports and bus terminals have much shorter queues, allowing you to check in quicker and clear immigration and customs checkpoints faster. As a result, traveling is more relaxing and less harried—the goal of every traveler seeking to get some R&R.
There are different off-peak seasons during the year. These often coincide with those periods between holidays and summer breaks. In the Philippines, the off-peak season is usually from June to early November. Different countries have different off-peak seasons, so you may wish to check out the peak and off-peak seasons in other countries when planning your travels.
Here are some tips to help you realize more savings when you go out of town during off-peak:
Plan in advance.
The earlier you book, the larger your discounts. Those popular one-peso fares usually have to be booked months in advance. This simply means you should be thinking of your vacations way in advance so that you can take advantage of the best deals. Watch out for sales, when airlines offer big discounts and promotional prices. Make sure to monitor sale announcements or subscribe to relevant newsletters so you can get the cheapest deals.
Check out non-traditional accommodations.
Hostels, bed-and-breakfast places, dormitories, and inns often offer very good and equally comfortable choices for lodging. Look for those that are not located by the main thoroughfares, but are just situated a block or two away. One advantage of this is that it allows you to see more of the city beyond the usual tourist traps. Check out travel sites for advice on which hotels offer good value for money.
Prepare your own meals.
Eating out or ordering room service all the time may prove to be expensive. To lower your food bill, shop at the market or grocery for some food—you’ll also get to familiarize yourself with the local cuisine this way. For snacks on the go, prepare some simple sandwiches and bring your own water. You’ll be amazed at how much savings you can have this way. If you must eat out, ask the locals for recommendations on where to eat cheap good food, or see where they themselves go to eat.
Look for all-day passes if you expect a full day of sightseeing. Take the train, and do walk around—this is one of the best ways to explore and know more about the place you’re visiting (and take lots of nice photos!). If you can help it, avoid taking the pricey taxi. But more importantly, plan your day in such a way that you visit points of interest per cluster, so you won’t have to do a lot of going back and forth, which is not only a waste of money but also of time.
Make sure you don’t lug around more stuff than you should, since this could mean extra baggage charges. Not having any checked-in luggage also allows you to move around quicker. If you need to check in luggage, purchase baggage credits in advance since it is far cheaper than having to pay for excess luggage.
Travel with friends.
When you travel as part of a group, you may be able to share some costs such as those for food, accommodation, and ground transportation. This is why group travel is often much cheaper than individual travel. Of course, exploring new places and experiencing new things is also a lot more fun when you’re in the company of friends.
Look at foreign exchange conversion costs.
Money changers may charge a lot for converting your money to the local currency, so try using your credit card instead. You may also try withdrawing money from your bank account from an ATM so you can bypass the conversion and get just enough local currency for your needs.
By planning way ahead and being wise about your choices, you can have the trip of a lifetime without spending too much, or contend with the vacationing crowd. Have fun!
Source: Abs-Cbn News, PH