Traveling is undoubtedly branded as a luxury for most of us because unless you have a combination of bottomless pockets and unlimited vacation days a year, it would be such a pain in the wallet to go to places. Ha, how good it is to imagine that as a possibility for everyone — pretty sure we’d already fly to different countries and islands in the world by now, shared and experienced different cultures of other countries and whatnot. But alas, we have to make do with what we currently have.
It is so easy to overspend on something if you don’t keep an eye on your expenses, so here’s my 6 guide questions to keep in mind if you want to travel cheaply:“WHAT DO I WANT TO SEE THERE?” This is a question for your focus on your travel budget, which we already established as a crucial game in traveling. An effective way for you to be conscious about it is thinking about your destination. Focus the largest portion of your budget on what you want to see or experience in that place. Is it the food? Is it the sights? Is it the unique experiences offered in the island? Is it relaxation?
You can also use the holy trinity as a guide for your traveling budget or the three most important pillars of your travel, which are accommodation, transportation, and food and drinks. Set aside travel emergency fund as well.“AM I TRAVELING TO STAY IN A FANCY HOTEL OR NOT?” This is a question for your accommodation, and more than likely the answer would be the latter. It isn’t bad to get a hotel of your choice, as by the end of the day it is still your choice and as your convenience will always be a priority. I’m not forcing or advising you to stay in a sketchy hostel either, especially if you can afford it anyway and you wouldn’t mind paying for your comfort but if based on your answer to question 1 and your itinerary you are to spend a bigger chunk of your day outdoors, it is more wallet-friendly to scrimp a little on hotels. Remember that you are paying extra for the logos and amenities that you probably can do without. Also keep in mind that staying nearer or farther from the city or the sights will affect the price, but will also affect your accessibility to public transportation, time and cost to travel.
“WHAT CAN I BRING WITH ME THAT I ALREADY OWN?” This is a question on what resources you already have that can minimize your traveling expenses. An example would be carrying around a water bottle with you during walks. Almost every establishments would be willing to refill your bottle so you don’t have to buy another once you’re finished. Other items could be your bag essentials like tissues, snacks, slippers, etc. The price could look little, but it will add up after some time.
“DOES THIS REPRESENT MY EXPERIENCE?” This is a question for the souvenirs you’re planning to buy. I admit, I’m partly guilty of taking home mass-produced printed tees, fridge magnets and little trinkets of places I’ve been to. But the way for you to travel cheap is to only bring home things that represent the culture and experience you’ve been through. Not only are you buying just a few things, you also know that your souvenirs have more significance to you.
Another thing to consider about this question is who you are buying these trinkets for. I know a lot of the times our friends or relatives back home would be berating us to bring home gifts for them, and at times we get overwhelmed and buy too many than the people we actually know. Or worse, we bought something that the person can’t use, or doesn’t suit his/her taste. This is something that is helpful to watch out for if you want to scrimp on one of the unnecessary things.“WHAT IS THIS PLACE’S FOOD SPECIALITY?” This is a question on what food items are you splurging your money on. Eating out for your three meals could be expensive so you have to choose wisely which of the three would you put most money on. It can help a little as well if you can make your own breakfast or your accommodation comes with breakfast or snacks, or you have other people to split costs with. When you do eat out, ask yourself if you’re going to spend more on drinks, food or dessert. It is also notably wise to eat like a local, for you’re steering clear of commercial restaurants where prices could be jacked up PLUS you’re getting the most authentic taste of your destination. “DO I REALLY HAVE TO GO THERE?” Tourist destinations and capital cities can be quite costly, and that is inevitable in any country. Not to mention thousands of tourists could be with you at the same place, at same time. Of course I cannot tell you not to visit them but you might want to try out some less-travelled spots where the origins of the place (like it’s status, culture and people) are still kept intact and commercialism is not that high. Ask yourself if it’s worth going somewhere where everybody has already traveled to, just for the sake and picture of it.
If you decide to still pursue the travel destinations, try to check in at a leaner season for (1) there’s lesser groups of people you will encounter with, (2) cheaper fares on hotels and most establishments to drive in customers and (3) you’ll get to see the place in a different light.
Takeaway? Planning your trip months before, creating a mock itinerary and budgeting where your money goes would really help you to save some bucks from unnecessary spendings. However, of course, you would have to leave room for adjustments as naturally, some things wouldn’t be followed on the dot. But these questions will definitely shape the way you travel for cheap. Just remember that at the end of the day, it’s your money and it’s your choice how you spend it. The important thing is you get your money’s worth and you create new cherished memories.