5 More Ways To Travel For Less
Last year, we showed you 10 ways to travel for less. In this article, we’re going even more in-depth on travelling on a shoestring budget, with the help of Nina Fuentes, a Lonely Planet featured blogger since 2010 and the person behind the Just Wandering travel blog. Fuentes has travelled in a lot of places all over the world, from Australia to Greece, and she enjoys sharing tips, stories, and resources from her journeys. She even itemizes her expenses so readers can have a clear idea of how much her trips cost — perfect for the budget-conscious would-be travelers.
Today, she’s sharing from her extensive travel experience some budget travel tips with iMoney readers who are looking to travel for the upcoming Holy Week holidays and beyond. Read on to find out 5 more ways to travel for less:
1. Avoid the crowds and go to these underappreciated destinations.
Sadly, Boracay will be more crowded that this photo suggests.
The Philippines is more than just Boracay and Palawan. And while it’s understandable that those wanting to travel might want to avoid all of Mindanao because of the conflicts there, “the problem areas are pretty small,” Fuentes says. You shouldn’t cut out an entire region just because of a few problem areas; you’ll miss out on cheap destinations that hold wonderful sights. Fuentes recommends three Mindanao cities worth your time:
- Iligan City: the City of Majestic Waterfalls is called that for a good reason, with 20+ waterfalls adorning the city. You’ll also see something you won’t see anywhere else — National Power Corporation Nature Park, a nature park within a hydroelectric power plant.
- Butuan City: history buffs will love this city, with artifacts from pre-colonial times along with some Spanish-era churches.
- General Santos City: there’s more to it than being the hometown of Manny Pacquiao. You can explore nature and the outdoors at the eco-tourism parks, and enjoy pretty good seafood. By the way, the Gensan tuna festival is in September, so if you want to eat yellowfin tuna to your heart’s content (at only P300 – P500 a kilo for the highest-grade tuna!), start planning your trip now.
And for overlooked Southeast Asian destinations, Fuentes highlights Myanmar, an up-and-coming destination. You don’t need a visa to go there any more, so that’s one less expense to worry about. “Visit the big four: Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake, and Bagan,” she says.
Don’t have time for the big four? “Head straight to Bagan, where there are over 2,000 temples. For the ultimate Bagan experience, save up and splurge for a hot air balloon ride over the temples.”
2. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more on accommodations with good location.
Stay more central and be closer to the action.
To save on costs, you might be tempted to choose a cheaper place outside of town rather than something a little more expensive near the city center. But the money you save doing this is easily cancelled out by the extra transportation you’ll have to pay to get to the city center and back, not to mention the hassle of wasting a lot of time just on your commute.
“I prefer to be centrally located, so even if I stay out late, I do not have to travel far to get back to my hostel,” Fuentes says.
So before booking a room on the outskirts of town, think about whether the money you’ll save be worth the trouble involved with getting to and from your accommodation. When you get a place centrally, you’ll have more leeway to explore the city without worrying about how you’re going to get back to your room. That’s definitely worth a few extra pesos — and you’ll make some of that money back on the transportation costs you save.
3. Travel with friends — but have your own itinerary so you don’t kill each other.
Sure, they look happy now … but just wait until they fight.
Traveling with friends is a great way to save on costs. “If you’re on your own, you’ll have to shoulder the cost of the entire room, whereas if you’re with friends, you can divide the cost,” Fuentes advises. For example, a single private room in a hostel in Kuala Lumpur costs P700 a night, but if you get a double private room with someone, your costs go down to P570 per person, per night. And if you travel with a group of 6, you could get a 6-bed dorm for P388 per person, per night.
So traveling with others is definitely cheaper. However, you miss out on the joy of traveling alone: doing whatever you want “without having to consult with each member of the group for every change in the schedule to keep everyone happy.” If you know you and your friends can only stand so much time with each other before getting into fights, consider this compromise: spend a little bit of time traveling together, but set a time where everyone is free to follow their own itineraries. This way, if you want to go to the museum but nobody else does, your friends won’t resent you for dragging them to a boring exhibit — they can do whatever they want, and the group stays happy.
4. You can travel abroad for only P10,000!
You might already have enough for an overseas trip!
Are you putting off your overseas travel because you don’t think you have enough money in your travel fund? If you’ve already saved up P10,000 and don’t mind roughing it, you can already visit a lot of places! For example, you can fly round-trip to Kuala Lumpur for around P5,600, and if you’re a super budget traveler, you can stretch the remaining money for a 3-day stay in the Malaysian capital.
“Southeast Asia offers a wealth of choice when it comes to shoestring travel,” Fuentes says. (Except for Singapore, which is expensive as heck.) “You can stay in a dorm room in Bangkok for P500 (or less) per night, get a plate of pad thai for less than P100, and go to the airport for P60. Laos and Vietnam are even cheaper.” Score a piso fare deal to one of these places and spend even less, since it’s the airfare that’ll make up the most of your expenses.
If you’re willing to forgo a few creature comforts, your dream trip might be closer than you think.
5. Time is your best friend.
Not this kind of time, but you get the picture.
The secret weapon to traveling cheaply? Time. “Use your available time before the trip researching where you can get the best value and biggest savings,” Fuentes says. The more time you have to plan, the more money you’ll save.
Here are Fuentes’s tips on how to use your time wisely to travel cheaply:
- Visit online forums about travel, especially those about the destination you’re looking at. “Since many are sharing their experiences, it’s easy to learn from other traveler’s tips and mistakes.”
- List the places you want to visit, so that you have a destination in mind when those seat sales come.
- Plan your expenses ahead of time. “Before I go on a trip, I book all my accommodations, list all my activities, and plot my route, so I know how much I’ll be spending during the trip,” Fuentes says.
- Know when the long weekends are, if you want to avoid getting absences at work or school — though that’s when the fares will be higher.
Also, if you’re employed, coordinate your vacation dates with your employer and take care of loose ends before going on holiday. You’ll enjoy your vacation more when you’re not checking your work email every five minutes. Plus, getting internet access abroad can cost you money that’s better spent on another plate of pad thai.
It’s not how much money you spend on your trip that matters, but getting the most out of your budget will give you memories for a lifetime. We hope our tips enable you to take the leap and travel, so you can experience new cultures and other delights that only travel can bring.