A week-long trip in Bali can cost you either 500, 1000, or 5000 USD (minus airfare), depending on how lavish you want your stay to be. But let’s be honest, not a lot of us have the liberty to decide that. If you’re looking to enjoy an exotic getaway on a low cost, here are some tips for you to travel more economically, without really cutting down on your itinerary!
1. Use local transportation
Avoid looking for the “Uber” of that country. Consider doing a little bit of research beforehand and figure out how the local buses and trains operate. Not only do you learn to get around the city like a local would, but you save a significant portion of your budget if you can figure out the local transportation system. However, this is more for the adventurous traveler as it may require asking strangers how to get around and can be a little more time consuming. Nonetheless, I’ve always treasured the long train journeys during my travels to get a better glimpse of the local lifestyle.
A great tool for navigating around a city is Here WeGo - one of the best offline navigation apps there is out there. Upon downloading the map data for a region, you can find directions for walking, cycling, and even public transit!
Get around the city like a true local
2. Check out the local mini-marts and grocery stores
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about 7-11 - they are different all over the world! In the US, they are a convenient place to grab coffee before work or a Big Gulp while you’re running errands. However, they play a different role in Japan where they feature an array of delectable food items ranging from fast-food sushi to full-blown meals like chicken katsu. During my travels, I’ve always been intrigued to find out what the corner store of a city holds!
Another tip for when you’re staying at an Airbnb is to make full use of the kitchen - if you have access to one. If you're staying in a shared home, the kitchen is an interesting place to meet other travellers and exchange itineraries. More than that, you have the chance to allocate your food budget such that you cook at home sometimes, and can splurge at restaurants other times.
3. Don’t go all out on flight tickets
The internet is full of great resources to get access to cheap flight tickets. It’s important to keep a tentative date in mind for when you want to travel, but if you can shift the dates around a little, SkyScanner is an ideal site to find cheap flights. As a flyer, you have the flexibility to plan your flight on the days that offer cheaper tickets. The website is a valuable resource to the regular traveler as it displays full price transparency in showing you the periods when prices are generally lower. Alternatively, you can also check out skiplagged.com and hopper.com - both insightful and informative sites that offer similar services!
Comparing flight tickets from Singapore to Bali
4. Save on guided tours
Guided tours are often expensive and can eat up a significant part of your budget. If you’re lucky enough, you can look around for free walking tours where payment is based on tips. Alternatively, Port offers online tours in many cities, where local guides show you around the area, virtually immerse you in the local culture, AND cover more of the city than a regular guide might be able to - all at an economical price! Connecting with a local guide can also be a valuable asset in your travels if you’re exploring a new city for the first time.
Virtual tour in Seoul with Yoowi
Through Port, you also have the opportunity to speak with an honest local and direct questions about the best place to stay, local cuisine, and the local transportation the city has to offer. They can help you save both time and money, as well as prevent you from falling into expensive tourist traps!
5. Finding the best exchange rate
Tech-savvy travellers are no strangers to popular multi-currency digital wallets like Revolut and YouTrip. Platforms like that have been disrupting the fintech landscape since earlier this decade. If you’re still wondering what I’m talking about, these apps offer multi-currency accounts and exchange rates at the mid-market rate at nearly no fees at all.
Still confused? You don’t need to scour the internet for the cheapest exchange rate as Revolut offers virtually the lowest foreign exchange rate (nearly 0%). On the same platform, you can also manage your travel budget for your trip and spend with greater ease. Sign up for their Standard plan and have a card delivered free of charge to you to use in your travel and regular expenditure.
6. Leverage on your social network
Too shy to ask if you can crash at your friend’s place when travelling? Let’s be honest - it’s a huge ask and can put you in an awkward position if you get turned down. Alternatively, ask for recommendations for cheap hotels in the area. One of two things will happen - this lets them know you’re coming to town and gives them the choice of offering to stay with them, OR they’d recommend a nearby hostel. Either ways, you walk away knowing you got the cheapest deal!
Finally, it's important to note that travel budgets vary greatly depending on how you travel. A decision as simple as picking between staying at an Airbnb or 5-star hotel can greatly impact your budget. Coming up with a realistic travel budget is an integral part of planning your vacation. You can always find ways to cut corners and still make the most of your dream trip. So build that spreadsheet, take out your calculator and book that trip!