Entry 52

Travelling Independently And Being Money-Sensible

When travelling to other countries on holiday, I like to make all the arrangements for my own trip.

While this avoids the constraints of a tour package, the budget that I set aside for travelling can be exceeded if I am not careful. In this article I list down some ways where we can try to avoid spending too much.

Firstly, consider open-jaw air tickets  when travelling to more than one destination in the same country. An open-jaw air ticket is one where you arrive at one airport and leave from other. For example, flying in to London and departing from Amsterdam, or flying in to Tokyo and departing from Osaka. What I have seen is that airfares for such tickets are no more expensive than a return ticket to/from the same city. With an open-jaw ticket, you save the hassle of backtracking to your entry point, and you could also save on the cost of doing so.

In planning my itinerary, I do my research online. These days, a lot of information is available on websites such as tripadvisor.com and also on local online forums. They contain a wealth of information and can help you make the best decisions on your trip.

For example, such websites could tell you how to get to/from the airport using public transport, thus saving you expensive taxi fares. They could help you decide if your itinerary is worth the cost of buying a rail pass, such as in Japan or Europe. You could find out about the cheapest tickets available in a particular city’s public transport system. Doing so has helped me enjoy the excellent public transport systems worldwide at a reasonable price.

Sometimes, one can come across cost-effective options for getting from one city to another. For example, on a trip from London to Amsterdam, I found that taking an overnight ferry from England to the Netherlands would cost the same as an Eurostar train journey. However, since accommodation on the ship was included in the price, I would not need to spend money on a hotel room for that particular night!

A website like seat61.com will tell you that you can save money by booking some cross-country train journeys within England in advance. The same website says that this is not necessary in Belgium, Netherlands, Japan and Malaysia because prices are the same regardless of when you buy them.

You can save money on accommodation by booking your air ticket and hotel together. In some cities, hotel room prices are generally high and a possibility to consider is to stay further away from the city centre and commute to the places of interest. You may find yourself staying in a suburban area and you will get a chance to really see how the locals live. Lastly, one could consider the price-comfort tradeoff and stay in a lower-rated hotel. In a recent trip, I shared a very basic room with three friends, staying at a location that was a one-hour train journey from the destination that we were interested in. We saved money and one of my friends found the scenery on the trip delightful!

The usual precautions on keeping cash apply. I make sure I don’t keep all the cash in one place, and as far as possible, all my spending is in cash, so that I do not overspend. Nevertheless, I keep my credit card handy in case it is necessary.

A holiday helps me to recharge from a busy work schedule and to be surprised by what is in the world out there. I also believe need not cost more than it should, and can still be enjoyable!