Monday, 29 June 2015

How Do I Plan and Save Money for Travel

After six years of travelling solo, I mastered the art of preparing travel itineraries. Here are the things that I always take note when preparing a solo travel itinerary with some proven ways to save money for travel too!
Plan in advance (Like a year before your target travel date). At the moment, I am planning for my next trip which is going to happen in a couple of months. I started to tirelessly hunt for cheap airfare going to South Korea last year. The cost of airfare ranged from $700 to $800. I think I was lucky to have availed of Vietnam Airlines’ promotion last November 2014! I got my air ticket for only $500.00. If you have travel itchy feet like I do, I suggest you sign up to receive information on news and promotional fare from your favourite airlines.
Prepare your itinerary ahead of time. I always make sure I have a detailed itinerary when I travel. I even have a record of the entrance fees (in case there are) and opening hours of the places I want to visit. If I were to visit multiple cities, it is important to know what means of transport are available. In most cases, it is either by taking a train or an airplane. My preference is to travel by train not only because it is more cost-effective but because (for me) it is more exciting too. As soon as I have the list of the places I want to see, I check the directions on how to get to those places to avoid getting lost and to save time as well. To save some money, I use the public transport system. Most of the time, information about timings and fares are available online. It is also advisable to check if there are special passes made available for foreigners and tourists. Reading blogs and asking questions are really important and those are what I always do whenever I am unsure of something.
Book your accommodation. I am a bit guilty of spending a bit more on accommodation. Booking.com is my savior! I signed up and eventually became a booking.com genius. Slowly I have learned how to score great deals on accommodation. What I always consider when choosing a hostel to stay at is the location. I always prefer the ones located near the mrt stations or bus stops and those with free breakfast too!

Travel fund and a coin bank. Five percent of my monthly paycheck goes directly to my “travel account”. Aside from that, own a coin bank. I seriously have one that I toss my $1 and $0.50 coins into at the end of the day. At the moment, I already saved $400.00 which is more than enough to pay my accommodation for my South Korea trip! Awesome, isn’t it?

Buy a travel insurance. There are several type of general travel insurance available. It is important that I know the coverage of limitations before getting one, because a travel insurance is much than just a medical protection. What I normally do is decide on the cover I need, find deals, and then compare! Easy peasy!

Check visa requirements. For me, visiting countries in Southeast Asia is not an issue. However, I still check visa requirements for countries I am about to visit to avoid glitches. If there is a need to get one, I prepare the documents required and apply one to two months in advance.

Check the weather. This is important because I prefer to travel light. Since one the of toughest things to do (for me) before travelling is organising the things that I need to pack, I always make sure that I know what type of clothes I should bring, or should I bring a sunblock lotion for summer or moisturiser for winter. This (for me again) is crucial. It is always important to come prepared.  

Avoid service charges. To travellers, money exchange does matter. This is why a month before my travel date, I check the daily exchange rate.  It is important to get some foreign currency before I leave so that I have cash on hand to handle my immediate expenses. I found a website which directed me to the best places to exchange money here in Singapore. They really do offer good rates for different currencies! As much as possible, I avoid using my credit cards because of the foreign transaction fees and to avoid service charges as well.

Checklist. Two weeks before my departure, I create a travel checklist. I always make sure that I have a photocopy of my passport, insurance, itineraries and other travel documents  too. I even send copies my email address which I could access anytime in case I lost any of them. I also prepare for some little details like the kind of adapter plug I’ll need for my destination and simple medications for emergency purposes. I read blogs about the culture of my destination to avoid culture shock, to dress properly and to learn about the laws and customs as well.

Happy travels!

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