7 useful tips on planing a budget holiday so that you travel for less
Today traveling is really easy - a passport, a credit and an iPhone are the only essentials you need to roam the world. If money is not a factor for you, then stop reading this. Just sit back, relax, open expedia.com and booking.com, keep your credit card at hand and book whatever you find good. If money is somehow a scarce resource, but you still want to see many places on a tight budget, then keep on reading. You may find a few useful tips here.
So let’s first pick a destination. Define the place(s) you dream of seeing and pick the best period to visit. Then check around when it is best to visit and why. Remember, if a place is not good to visit during winter time, then probably there is a good reason for that. Even if you fly half price, a paradise beach during stormy season is not worth a dime. Don’t try to beat the system on this. Pick the best season and build your plan around it. It all starts with the perfect weather.
Once you have a goal, you can start formulating a plan. And as always, a good plan starts with solid research.
1. Gather information about the destination
Information starts with asking around friends who have been there (first hand experience) and browsing online sources such as trip advisor’s forums. Questions to ask are:
- When is the best time to visit and why
- What are the main points of interest and why
- What can you do off the beaten track
- Which are the most convenient arrival airports
- Which are the mostly used airlines
- What is the best way to move around
- What are the accommodation options, prices and things to note
- What are the safety and health dangers
This research is actually an ongoing process. You need to spend a few hours initially to get a general idea of the experience and needed budget, as well as build a broad plan that suits you. The goal at this point is to prioritize and mark alert points in your mind, which will then help you get detailed about your trip.
2. Alert points
Let’s assume you want to visit southern Thailand. After doing preliminary research, you know that it’s best to fly into Bangkok and than connect with a domestic flight. You also know however, that Phuket is a good option, followed by popular hubs like Singapore, from where you can find low fares to Southern Thailand. “Cheap flights to Bangkok” is an alert point that you need to stick into your brain, that is, that anytime you come across offers for cheap flights to Bangkok, a little red light start flashing in your mind.
To get more proactive, go to sites like skyscanner.com , expedia.com or the airlines’s website of the airlines that serve routes to Thailand out of your destinations and sign up for offers. One day you will get an email with offers to Thailand on your dates at half price. When that day comes, act immediately! You would have gathered enough information throughout your ongoing research so that you book with confidence.
Other alert points could be “Thailand”, “Krabi”, etc., Anytime you come across these key words, get on alert and suck as much as information as you can.
3. Flights first, everything else follows
Now that you have bought your flights, you can focus on the rest. The flights are the fundamentals, the frame which is set in stones. All other aspects are flexible. Depending on the complexity of your trip, you should either book your accommodation or start with securing the domestic travel (for e.g. flight from Bangkok to Krabi). Our recommendation is to start first with booking the accommodation, while at the same time have a sound idea of the domestic flight options. Why?
Hotels, hostels or AirBnB accommodations generally have flexible cancellation terms. Unless you book non-refundable rates, you can easily amend your hotel bookings penalty-free up to a day before check in. That gives you freedom to play with the other components of your trip. So make use of this option and book hotels well in advance. Once done, you can focus on the domestic flights. Based on the locations of your accommodation, you can now find out which domestic flight options best suit you. Create an alert point around these flight options, set some shorter deadline and wait for the best offers to come.
4. Plan all activities well in advance
This is how you garnish your trip. Once you’ve decided what you want to do at your destination, look out for the cheapest way to achieve this. Check websites like viator.com and isango.com for local excursions and activities. Drop an email to your hotel and ask if they can recommend a travel agency/provider. See which ones are worth booking in advance and which ones are best negotiated on spot. Book in advance if cheaper, but always look at the cancellation terms. Allow yourself the freedom to modify, if possible.
Don’t forget about transfers and moving around. Read if is cheaper to hire a taxi, get on public transport or arrange for a transfer. Ask your hotel as well. Good websites for transfers are a2btransfers.com or holidaytaxi.com.
5. Insure your trip.
Everything can happen prior and during your trip. When the trip is complex and consisting of various components, one issue with the flight creates hundreds of other problems down the road. The hotel, generally, will not care that you didn’t make it for your connecting flight. Same goes for the domestic carrier, if you have an onward journey. Check out the different insurance options available in your country, but also check complex insurances created for individual travelers, such as worldnomads.com. Sometimes, a few dollars spent on insurance pay off big time.
6. Modify modify modify
Once you are done with preparations, don’t close the page yet. You are going for the best value for money, so keep on getting informed. Remember, most of the accommodations and activities you’ve booked so far have flexible cancellation terms. Once a better offer comes around, don’t hesitate to cancel and rebook.
7. Read the small prints
Lastly, we would like to direct your attention to the small prints. Before booking accommodation, or any other travel service, make sure you read all terms & conditions. This is most obvious with accommodations, where on top of the rate you may be charged various surcharges, for example 10% service fee, 10% cleaning fee, 20% local tax and so on. If you compare the same accommodation from two sources, the cheaper offer may in fact turn more expensive.
Written by Connectionreview.com