There are many ways you can enjoy your holiday while maintaining a reasonable low budget. Here is a list of smart travel tips.
Tips on booking flights and hotels
It is always a good idea to read up on the place before you make any arrangements. Once you are sure of the location, book a flight that gets you there at a convenient time – when you can easily hail a taxi or take public transport to your hotel.
Landing during rush/odd hour is not advised as the taxi driver may charge extra (peak-hour or midnight charges) and public transport may not be available or packed. The best time to arrive is in the afternoon.
Most flights that take off in the early morning cost more as many people want to arrive early and not waste the day travelling. The next best flight time for flight, especially return ones, is late at night. Buy early and avoid travelling during peak seasons and you will get a good deal.
If your destination is prone to natural disasters, purchase fully flexible plane tickets so that you will be able to change your flight if the situation calls for it. Pack light so that you won’t have to pay for excess baggage.
To get the best hotel deals, read travelers’ reviews of the hotel on sites such as Agoda and TripAdvisor. While hotels that are near public transport may cost more than those in the outskirts of town, consider the amount of time and money you will save if you were to stay near the attractions and shopping areas.
This is where a carefully planned itinerary will prove useful when you are budgeting your trip. A well-planned itineraries and professional guides allow you the flexibility and the freedom to change your plans even after you have booked your trip.
Check out places or attractions you want to cover first, go for attractions that are free or charge minimum entrance fees to save cost. Hunt for discount rates or coupons for airlines, train or bus tickets, lodgings and even meals. Consider a holiday at a destination where you can get free accommodation. You can also choose a destination that offers excellent walking trails. May nature parks or hiking trails are free or inexpensive.
Tips on travel insurance and visas
It is utmost important to have coverage for emergency situation or loss of luggage. It can easily be purchased with your air ticket or via an insurance agent, but be sure to check that the cover period of the insurance fits with your travel plans.
Certain countries require you to have a visa, so be sure to apply for one well in advance. Get a travel agent to obtain your visa so that you don’t have to make a trip to the embassy. Travel agents also know exactly what documents are needed.
A comprehensive travel insurance plan covers health, accidental and other travel-related financial risks during your trip. Travel insurance generally covers flight delays, luggage loss or delays, stolen traveler’s cheques, emergency evacuation and travel medical expenses. You can even travel to different countries under one policy as long as they are listed under the policy.
Tips on carrying valuables
Time and time again, travelers are reminded not to keep all their cash, cheques, and credit cards in one place. However, many forget this rule.
Night markets sell special underwear for women that come with a zippered pocket at the front to store cash and cards. Websites such as Clever Travel Companion carry clothes with secret compartments. However, do not keep coins in these pockets or compartments or they will set off the metal detector at the airport.
If possible, avoid using your credit card so that you can keep to your budget.
Avoid carrying a fanny pack, which catches the eyes of pickpockets. Also, when faced with a “Beware of Pickpockets” sign, do not immediately reach into your bag to look for your wallet as this is another tactic that pickpockets use to locate where you have kept your valuables.
Look for the best exchange rate when converting currency. With a favorable exchange rate, you can lower your expenses, especially on transport and food costs. Rates are usually higher at the airports.
Tips on telecommunications
SIM cards are now available everywhere – just walk into any convenience store. If you have a smartphone, ensure that your Internet plan does not charge an exorbitant rate for every kilobyte that you download. Often, local telecommunications companies have a set of prepaid plans, which are significantly cheaper than using roaming plans.
If you don’t want to buy a SIM card at your destination country, you could get a roaming plan. Check with your telecommunications company so that you won’t pay-as-you-go, which would rack a huge bill at the end of your trip.
Maxis offers 1, 3, and 5 day data roaming passes at RM33 per day. Dushyan Vaithiyanathan, head of consumer business at Maxis, says users can also download the Maxis Roam app for free. “This app, which provide essential information, automatically detects the traveler’s location and provides him with the best data and call rates, as well as essential contacts such as the embassy and consulate.”
Tips on navigation
Forget about buying a travel guidebook if you have a smartphone. Save money and the environment by downloading navigation apps such as Maps with Me, OSMAnd and NavFree. TripAdvisor’s app, available on Google Play and the App Store, allows users to download information about cities and routes to favorite landmarks. The maps apps are free and GPS usage does not request data usage, but watch out for your phone? battery life (pack a portable powerbank).
With these apps, even if you don’t have a local SIM card, you may still use GPS. Using a GPS tracking and routing system will also help you to detect whether your taxi driver has decided to take “the scenic route”. Most maps apps come with a local public transport guide.
Tips on scams watch
Every country has its own version of scams. In Thailand, walk into a random bar promoting ping pong or tiger shows and you will get into trouble. In China, if you give money to a beggar, you will probably be inundated with more of his counterparts and get your pocket picked. In London (such as Camden town) and elsewhere in Europe, buskers attract large crowds; once distracted, you are an easy target for pickpockets.
In Asean countries such as Indonesia, be sure to bargain for your purchases. The rule of thumb is to shave 70% off the original price to give both you and the vendor leeway to negotiate.
Be sure to read up on the country and what to look out for online. More importantly, know your rights as a traveler. Identify the tourist police in case you need their help. Keep a copy of your local embassy’s number somewhere.
If your passport or personal belongings have gone missing, you need to make a police report. In a flight emergency, keep your boarding pass to make a claim from the insurance company. For land emergencies, you need official reports or a police report to claim your loss. In most cases, travelers will have to pay first, and then claim later. The most important thing to remember is to keep all your bills.
With all this in mind, you are ready to travel, and travel smartly. Happy Holidays!