Once upon a time, I had a discussion in one of What’s Apps group with my closest colleagues. Well, I don’t have many close friends at work, so actually the discussion was only among 3 persons including me. The discussion was initially started by Finn, who’s currently preparing her solo trip to Europe. She was asking me for some references and information related to her trip preparation, something like where to stay in Paris, which website she should use to find a cheap accommodation, how to go from one place to another, basic things like that. It is going to be her first solo trip in Europe and I must admit that I am very excited for her trip.
She mentioned that she probably would stay in dormitory at hostel in Paris as most of the private accommodations there are out of her budget. It was understandable for me, staying in Paris is expensive if you have no one to share with. I spent minimum 50 euro per night for a full studio with Airbnb in Bastille area and it was considered as cheap. Thirty euro per night will give you either less strategic location or non-private accommodation in Paris.
Then out of the blue there was a sudden shot from Jim, the other colleague in What’s Apps group, “Finn, beware if you stay at dorm, nowadays there are many dangerous virus that you may get infected with.” We were like, what??? What are you talking about? So the discussion was shifting to Jim’s topic. There we understood that Jim is the person who has an idea that travelling should be pricey and that an accommodation should be a minimum 3 stars in order to avoid a dangerous situation such as the virus he was talking about. We agree when he advised us to beware of the pickpockets in metro, but to avoid staying at dorm at all due to the virus? It was just out of our imagination. We have stayed in several dorms, Finn did in Asia and I also did sometimes in Asia, Australia and Europe, we were not aware of such things like virus. It doesn’t mean that we are not aware about health and randomly choose any hostels; of course we did read reviews from the other travellers and only consider the hostel with medium to excellent reviews to stay at.
Unfortunately, Jim is not the only person with this perception. He is not the only person who thinks that travelling should be expensive; there are several people that I know who also hold this thought. They always say that I’m rich because I always travel somewhere. This thought is a fatal danger. Why? because it will limit your vision about travel.
So, here below I list some weapons that I frequently use to prepare my trip with reasonable budget without too much compensating the comfort.
1. Choosing Destination
There are two types of destination, fix destination and flexible destination. People with flexible destination tend to save more money than the one who has the fix one. However, there are always possible cheap options for both types. It needs to take into account as well the time of travel, whether it is peak season or low season.
Sometimes I have fix destination, like I wanted to spend last winter in Amsterdam. So I had to do some research for the most convenient date and budget for my flight to Amsterdam. These are the websites that I use to find the best deals for flight tickets:
When I just feel like I want to go for travelling without any initial idea of where it would be, I will go to consult with Google Flights on www.google.com/flights. Google Flights will give me an idea of the flight options to some destinations. With Google Flight, I made the decision to start The Places I Want to Live In Project from Phuket.
2. Choosing Accommodation
We all understand that the level of comfort for each individual is different. For example, even if I love to have my own private room and bathroom, I don’t mind to stay at dorm for a couple of days to cut some budget, but anyway I would not be feeling good to stay at dorm for a whole month as I need some privacy from time to time. Some travellers may just enjoy their stay from dorm to dorm for their whole trip. Some others, like Jim, will only limit the accommodation type from minimum 3 stars hotel. Travel alone or solo travel, like what Finn will do, is indeed more expensive. It will be cheaper if we have a travel mate to share the accommodation budget, but the thing is, if we waited for someone to go with us, we would never go.
First thing that I’ll do when I look for an accommodation is going to www.trivago.com. It works like skyscanner, only it is intended for accommodation. It will list down all the available places to stay and can be filtered and sorted based on the price.
Then, I will double check with my account on www.booking.com, www.agoda.com and www.hotels.com. It is important to have an account on those websites as they frequently have a secret deals, insider deals, genius deals or whatever deals for their members. Normally I find an excellent deal on www.booking.com with free-cancellation and pay-later option. I will secure the best deal on this website first. Next step is to search the comparison deals on www.hotels.com, this website is my first priority because of their hotels.com rewards where I could get 1 free night after collecting 10 nights of stay. I’ll take the deals on www.hotels.com only if the value is more or less the same with the value on the other websites. Sometimes it is annoying because, unlike www.booking.com, there is a hidden fee on www.hotels.com. While for www.agoda.com, I rarely use but recently they have a nice collaboration with Air Asia Big Poin that could be a good consideration for my next trip.
You know where else you can find a great accommodation with low price? Airbnb! There are a lot of locals willing to accommodate you in their apartments or houses. This is a different experience to stay in the apartment like local. I took Airbnb during my trip in Belgium last winter and it was really great.
If you are in need for an even lower budget, don’t hesitate to get a bed in dormitory. This is a common thing that travellers choose to cut some budget. I prefer to use www.booking.com to search this kind of accommodation because there is no hidden price and their flexibility for cancellation and payment is agreeable.
3. Getting Around and Another
Next question will be how to find a way to get around the city and transporting from one city to another?
Travelling in Indonesia itself is quite a challenge even for local since we currently have no a sophisticated mode of transport like metro yet. So yes, googling is advisable or asking to local on-the-spot. Fortunately, the Indonesian taxi cost is still reasonably affordable for those who don’t want to take a public transport and in some big cities, there are some choices of transportation with online application based (Uber, Grab and Gojek).
While for travelling in another country, I always check on www.rome2rio.com to have a picture on how to get from one city to another. It will give some options with relevant prices, routes and duration of trip.
Checking with Google Maps will require you to double check with other references because the Google Map’s recommendation for public transport might not always be up-to-date and sometimes inaccurate like what I experienced during my trip in Hanoi.
4. Deals Subscription
Subscribing on some travel related websites for newsletters has given me some good deals so far. Most websites have a membership loyalty rewards.
I find myself smart enough to have an account on www.tiket.com and www.airasia.com. With www.tiket.com, I earn tix point for every transaction that I made, either it is for flight tickets, train tickets, car rental, music concert, etc. After my tix point reach 5,000; I can use it as a discount for my transaction.
Do you know what will you earn if you are a member of Air Asia and book Air Asia flight on www.tiket.com? You will be double-lucky. You will earn tix point on your www.tiket.com account and big poin on your Air Asia account. Big poin on Air Asia will give you free flight redemption as low as 500 poin. I redeemed my big poin for many times now and it is such a proud achievement for me to get free flights.
Some other travel agent websites in Indonesia like www.traveloka.com, www.nusatrip.com, www.via.com and www.pegipegi.com are sometimes having deals like promo codes or discount for Visa and Mastercard that worth to check.
Last but not least, I mentioned my preference website to book the hotel, www.hotels.com, which has given me some free nights through hotels.com reward. The free night is worth the average price of 10 nights. So far, I have redeemed some free nights for my trip in Nusa Lembongan, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
Voila, those are my weapons for the trip preparation. Practice makes perfect, so practice those tips for your next trip and you will see how much budget you will cut.
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