8 budget-friendly travel hacks you need to do now

Categories I Travel

It was raining the other day! While this is a welcome respite from the heat and humidity, one thing is for sure, Summer is soon drawing to a close and it will be time to ready our jackets and umbrellas as the rainy season is about to come. Cool and wet days ahead and a change of fashion. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Be it a staycation at a hotel just within your city to catch up on sleep or fly out to a new destination whether within the country or abroad, there is always a great reason to hit the road or discover new places and culture, rain or shine.

We all know that travel can be expensive and I can attest to this with usually hotels/accommodations and fares taking a big chunk of one’s travel budget. But, if you’re a smart traveler, there are ways to address this without getting into debt or breaking the bank.

Are you ready?

Go for budget flights. These will definitely lessen your expenses! Plan and book weeks or even months ahead as fares are cheaper. Keep abreast of announcements and updates where you can score tickets as low as a peso. Loyalty to an airline can also earn you mileage, if you sign up, so that you can redeem these for free or cheaper flights. And speaking of miles, even shopping at partner establishments can earn you points.

Go beyond the hotels. Let’s face it. Unless you have willing friends or family abroad or in another city who will let you stay for free, hotel accommodations definitely can shorten your budget. But come to think of it. When we travel, most of the time we are outside exploring. We just need a clean, safe and comfortable place to stay and leave our bags. So, ditch the hotels and look for alternatives. Hostels are cheap and are great to stay as well as meet new friends from around the world. With the sharing economy, bed and breakfasts, home rentals or homestay programs offer options that let you experience being a local, for a smaller fee. There are also couchsurfing or so called ‘house sitting’ where you can arrange these via online sites, mostly for free or in exchange of a service or skill. These will not only extend your travel budget but have great experiences too!

Go for slow travel. Compared to cramming five cities in three days, slow travel enables you to better experience a place, and save more. How? You get to choose cheaper accommodations compared to staying at the city center to save on time. You get to ride local buses or trains, or just walk compared to getting on taxis or via ride sharing apps to hop from one destination to the next in the least time possible. You get to linger more or go around at your own pace as against taking packaged tours where you are at the mercy of hectic itineraries. Slow travel can be rewarding and more memorable, and cheaper too.

Go for quality over quantity. ‘Oh, I have a vacation leave for three days. Let’s go abroad and visit as many countries as possible.’ We all heard this or have done this ourselves. In the end, we spent more time traveling from one destination to the next than actually enjoying what the place has to offer. Instead of memories and experiences, we only have routine selfies and group shots. In short, our travel was shallow, ticking off a checklist for the sake of visiting but not for the sake of soaking into the local culture. Prioritize experiencing a destination than rushing to several places. Learn the culture, explore the food, make new friends.

Go for local eats. Fancy restaurants in popular destinations can surely be expensive, especially if these cater to tourists. Want to save and extend your money? Go where the locals eat. From hawker centers like in Singapore to local night markets like in Hong Kong, you will surely find interesting local dishes that speak more of the people and of the place.

Go for lighter luggage. Have you experienced going on a vacation for three days and bringing everything including the kitchen sink? Well, it’s not only a hassle to bring two or more heavy luggage (and not using all the clothes you brought). And if you’re flying, these can earn you hefty checked baggage fees! Pack light. Bring just the essentials and enough clothes. Going light can even let you travel quickly than being bogged down with luggage. When I travel, I also limit the number of pieces to not more than three. More than that, the risk of forgetting and losing a bag gets bigger.

Go for travel insurance. One thing, especially Pinoy travelers who want to save, travel insurance is an after-thought, if at all. Prepare for the unexpected, be a smart traveler. While not everyone feels they can afford travel insurance — getting it can save you from a world of trouble, stress, and expense. Its always better to be prepared.

Go for promos and travel sales. Saving up for travel is one thing. Getting good deals is another. One way to do that is become a savvy traveler. Look out for deals and promos. Subscribe, sign up. Even credit cards nowadays offer great deals on travel, like discounted airfare and deferred payment, with a very low or even zero interest.

So plan your vacation ahead. With these tips and hacks, you will definitely have a better use of your money for a more memorable experience traveling.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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