17.1.12

How To Travel On a Budget

My family are not risk takers. They have mundane jobs (my dad's been working for Bangko Sentral for 25 years and my sister works in IBM as whatever haha--sorry guys). So when I brought up the subject of traveling to Hongkong for a vacay, they were all reluctant at first. They said they didn't want to spend that much on one place alone, "sayang pera" that's what my Mom said. Eventually, in my own sneaky way, I persuaded them. I helped them with the budgeting and other stuff. Two years after, they're still dreaming of Hongkong and bugging me where to fly to next. :) Nothing excites me like a family trip. I can say we definitely became closer after (my dad had a break from drinking and my brother from excessive online gaming). Better do it now while the sister has no kids yet and my parents can still walk, coz cmon I know they're not getting any younger. Oh, I'm happy to say we have a trip to Palawan this March and planning to go to Singapore on November!

MEMORIES -- HK '09!

Anyway, I find it weird when people assume that just because you travel frequently, it means you have a LOT of money. Somehow they equate traveling with being "loaded". Duh. I can honestly say, I am not rich. Haha! The secret to traveling is persistence and planning. Like me for example, I don't have a fat bank account (invested my money on insurances/stocks) and I have bills to pay. I often book a trip with barely anything in the bank (chos) haha. But whenever I book, I immediately form a plan of action on how to SAVE for a particular trip. I usually save a certain amount every payday, sell more Archive or personal stuff, get extra jobs (in tagalog: rumaraket galore). It also helps to have a financial consultant-ish partner to motivate and remind you of your "goal". 


Here are some quick tips:


1.) PLANE TICKET - Watch out for PROMO FARES from different airlines! Remember: Persistence is key. Hehe. They often announce these seat sales on the newspaper. So it's best to book super early in the morning (while the world is still sleeping) to get good dates and seats (especially when you're traveling in a group). Here are some airlines that offer them:

* Air Philippines - for domestic and Singapore flights (booked an SG tix for P2300 roundtrip!)
* Cebu Pacific - for domestic and international flights (our HK trip next week was just P2400 roundtrip! Was also able to book a Palawan trip before for P90 roundtrip)
* Philippine Airlines - for domestic flights (was able to book a trip to Boracay for P1500 roundtrip)
* Zest Air - for domestic (haven't tried yet)
* Jetstar - for Singapore flights (was able to book an SG trip before for P3500 roundtrip)
* Air Asia - for Malaysia flights (haven't tried yet but my friend was able to book a P2500 roundtrip tix to Malaysia)
* Tiger Airways - for Singapore and Malaysia flights (haven't tried yet)


2.) HOTEL - After you've booked your ticket, start looking for a place to stay! I usually book for a hotel months before our trip. It is a huge risk (you never know when your trip might get cancelled), but it's definitely cheaper! It's also good to research early on best places to stay. I'm quite an expert on this--finding quality budget hotels. Haha. I spend HOURS, as in 8 hours straight just googling away. When I'm hooked, I'm hooked! I actually enjoy browsing through different hotel websites, looking at rooms, bathrooms (yes hehe). I read reviews, I search for actual photos, I check the location and proximity to the main tourist areas. I usually read reviews on:


* Trip Advisor - where hotels are ranked and members can share their insights, comments, experiences as well as actual photos. I am a member/contributor as well! 





* Google - I search for blog posts to see photos and honest opinions.



I usually book hotels via 3rd party sites because they're cheaper. I decided to use Anne Black hotel, Hongkong as an example. Click screenshots to view the price difference (chose the same date) for a Standard room (w/ private bathroom)! Here are just some of them:

* Agoda -tried and tested. It's my 1st choice when booking hotels. Encountered no problem checking in or whatsoever. 



* Asiatravel - tried this too. Booked Ecotel, Bangkok before through this site. Encountered no problem either.


* Expedia - haven't tried yet but I heard they're reliable as well.


* Hotels Combined - Now this is cool. They consolidate all hotel deals from different travel websites!

(click photo to enlarge)

*When comparing prices, don't forget to check if prices are inclusive of taxes & fees or breakfast. ;)

Remember: Find a hotel that is near public transportation (like train stations). If your flight is at night, it's best to just spend the night at a super cheap hotel, like what we did when we went to Singapore last year. We stayed at a backpacker's inn (shared bathroom and all), then transferred to a nicer hotel the next day. It's to save money coz even if you check-in at around 10pm, you still have to pay the whole per day price. You can even sleep or stay at the airport nalang. It's best if the room rate includes breakfast na para you can save on food. :) But it would be awesome if you can just stay with a friend or relative. Huge savings!


(To read about my Singapore trip including hotels and tours, click HERE, HERE & HERE. )
 (no tour guides, I just researched all the places we went to including the entrance fees, food, transportation)



3.) ITINERARY/TOURS - you should align this with your budget of course.  If you're going to countries with confusing modes of transportation (in my case, Thailand & Vietnam), it's best to just book a tour via travel agencies or tour websites. Believe me, you would be able to save more than just money. You would be able to save time (although you have to do the mandatory gem factory visit, argh), effort and no hassle at all. Unless of course you have a relative or friend who can show you around.

(Click HERE to know how I booked for our hotel and Thailand tour including the travel website!)

 (And HERE to read about my Bangkok experience including tips, do's and don'ts and tour highlights! Pls dont laugh at my haggarda photos, hehe)


*We  overheard one of our tour groupmate, an Australian, saying he tried to tour Thailand alone before, but he got lost and swindled. He paid someone 2000 baht or roughly P2,500 just to get him out of there.

 For Vietnam, booked tours via The Sinh Tourist! Highly recommended!
amazing service--and they speak in English, thank God:)

we have a bus service--even free water!
informative tour + free lunch!
and an amazing tour guide!

We really didn't mind the time constraint (we needed it haha) and it's more fun to tour with a group. We were able to meet new friends!:)

 (Click HERE to read my whole Vietnam experience)

For countries that are easy to navigate and have organized transport systems like Singapore and Hongkong, you can just tour on your own. They also have available maps at the airport, get as many information brochures as you can. Hehe. Review them in your hotel. Bring your map ALL the time! (I just realized I haven't blogged about my Hongkong trips! Bummer. I'll document my trip next week I promise. Hehe.)

To be able to save more, look for top-shelf attractions that are free of charge. Madami yan.:) In most countries, there are discounted travel passes that enables you to visit different attractions for one price.


4.) FOOD - You don't have to eat at expensive restos all the time! Well, once in a while maybe. :) In Thailand, Mich and I often eat in carinderias where food is just P30! In Singapore we often eat at Hawker centers (foodcourt) where you could buy a complete meal for $5 or P150 (mura na yan haha). ;) Anywhere you go, there are lots of hidden food places that serve quality (if not the best) food at affordable prices. You just have to discover them. Research or ask the locals. :) Or if you're staying with friends/relatives just make baon so you won't have to buy food outside!

parang banchetto sa Singapore!

$5 meal:)

you can cook lunch or dinner instead of going out!

5. Transportation - Cabs are often expensive, so it's best to go around using public transportation like trains and buses. It's important that you study the routes so you'll have an idea on how to hop from one place to another without wasting too much time. Only ride a cab if necessary. If you can walk, then walk. :) Some countries offer discounted/unlimited travel passes like Hongkong (unlimited train rides for 3 days). It would be a huge help if you're constantly on the go. In Macau, hotels offer free shuttle buses. For ex. if you're going to the Fisherman's Wharf, you can hop on the Sands hotel shuttle coz they're just beside each other.;) Again, research!


Try crossing to another country by land! That way, you'd get to visit different countries at a cheaper price. It's a little time consuming but it would cut your cost by a few hundreds or thousands.

rode a comfy coach bus going to Malaysia from Singapore.

6. Shopping - I don't usually shop too much when I travel. Sightseeing always come first. I also don't buy souvenirs for me or for others (but we always buy 1 cute magnet to add to our ref collection). I only buy stuff when I know it's waaay cheaper there than here in Manila. For example Thailand, this is where you'd be able to find dresses sold here in Manila for P800-P1000 for just P200. Once bought a gorgeous bodycon skirt for P100! My favorite BF blazer I bought for only P300 at Siam Paragon.

biggest weekend market--Chatuchak in Thailand! 15,000 stalls of cheap merchandise. Heaven!

Tips:

1. It's cheaper to travel in groups. That way you'll have more people to divide the expenses with. Heh. You could also get discounted group packages for tours or hotels. 
2. Don't exchange your money at the airport, they said it's a rip off. Google for the best money changer in town. In Singapore, there's this money changing booth in Suntec Mall called Fountain Money Changer where the line is always long! They give the best rates. In Hongkong, I heard there's this one inside Chungking Mansions. Just look for the sign outside. Google!

3. If you're going to a place where people can't understand English, write down/print out your destination, hotel name or address in their language so you won't get lost.

4. Always bring a copy of your passport with you! Just a copy...for safety.:)

5. Don't bring all your money when you're touring around. 

6. Always be cautious!


That's all I can think of for now! Do you have any tips? Share!

P.S. Join exisiting giveaways here:

22 comments :

  1. Anyway, I find it weird when people assume that just because you travel frequently, it means you have a LOT of money. Somehow they equate traveling with being "loaded". Duh. I can honestly say, I am not rich. Haha! The secret to traveling is persistence and planning.
    AGREE! You don't have to be LOADED nga; it just takes drive and the end vision of travel and experience! :D I can honestly say that much of my future savings once I get a job will go to traveling. There's nothing like it. :)

    Lovely post, Aisa! :)

    P.S. Aww, your family's so cute. You look so much like your dad! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Carla! and yes noh? daddy na daddy lng haha!

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  2. Really helpful tips! :) Planning to travel more and I hope it will pursue. Will keep these in mind, Pax! Tayo naman ang mag-tour next!

    Xoxo,
    Arnie
    http://arnievillanueva.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ang galing, galing ng post na 'to! I shall refer to this when I'm going on an out-of-the-country trip!

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  4. oh this is so informative! great post! i am an avid traveler myself and this post really helps! galing! :)

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  5. Nice! I always enjoy reading your blog. :)


    http://xoxostrawberry.blogspot.com/

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  6. aaaw! really helpful! <3 but howcome i got 5k roundtrip sa P888 fare ng airphil? Ang galing mo kumuha ng deals pax!! <3

    anyways, great advise ang Agoda! They have super cheap rates! :)

    Rovie, The Bargain Doll

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sis ang mahal naman ng 5k!!!! baka mali nachoose mo:/ thank yooou!:)

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  7. Thanks for sharing this! Info will surely come in handy for when we're planning our upcoming trips - especially since I'm on a strict budget but love to travel. :)

    ♥Lia
    http://bylinebylia.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. thanks lia! happy traveling!:)

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  8. wow thanks for sharing these tips ;) we want family bonding too ~~

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  9. Wow, bookmarked it already! I want to travel Europe and Singapore one day, I hope this will serve me well in the future! Like, 5-10 years from now hehe. Thanks!


    Almira :)
    numbertwohere

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  10. Definitely bookmarking! Thank you for sharing this. I've always wanted to travel around, but like your parents, I also think it's very costly. This post just told me I have to be smart, resourceful, and persistent...like you! Thank you again so much! :)


    Tanya
    http://tardydresser.tumblr.com

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  11. i cant leave this post without saying thank you. very helpful :)

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  12. cool post!! i really want to start traveling!!! you've given some really honest and great tips! your family is so cute btw!

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  13. I have the travel bug too, but still saving for it (I blew ALL my funds last year, which is just so so sad) Anyway, thanks for this Pax for adding to my travel inspiration!!!

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  14. hi in my searching i found your blog and i can say its helpful. and still continue reading it. btw me and my sister is planning to go to boracay this coming august for about 3-4 days only. i've check ticket from airasia quiet cheaper but from manila to kalibo only not directly to caticlan. can you share or someone can tell if coming from kalibo what ado we need to take to go to caticlan? thanks i will appreciate your reply regarding to this concern. please do email me chums_cutie08@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. hi in my searching i found your blog and i can say its helpful. and still continue reading it. btw me and my sister is planning to go to boracay this coming august for about 3-4 days only. i've check ticket from airasia quiet cheaper but from manila to kalibo only not directly to caticlan. can you share or someone can tell if coming from kalibo what ado we need to take to go to caticlan? thanks i will appreciate your reply regarding to this concern. please do email me chums_cutie08@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete

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