Text by Siraj Aziz for Hype magazine
We all need a break from our little island, so here are some tips to traveling on your own.
Choosing A Destination..
Be realistic. If you are looking to save money, Asian destinations, which provide an abundance of exotic locations and cultures to explore, are naturally cheaper to visit.
However, read up on the happenings in the country of interest. The recent shutdown of Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport due to the takeover by political protestors resulted in over 300, 000 tourists being stranded.
Although we can’t predict the future, we can be smart by staying clear of countries with difficult political situations.
Try to avoid travelling during peak seasons such as the year-end. Hotels and airlines are usually fully booked and often up their prices during these periods.
Travelling in rural areas of a country may cost less than a city.
A similar hotel room in Chiang Mai can cost a few hundred baht cheaper in Bangkok. Therefore, weighing the benefits of the location and its attractions early may save you quite a bit of money.
It is always good to know where your embassy is located in a foreign country.
In case of emergencies such as losing your passport or getting into an accident, you can approach the embassy for assistance.
Being helpless in a foreign land is a scary experience, so it’s always good to know that some local help is around the corner. (back to top)
Instead of relying on your good ol’ travel agency, you can try finding good deals online.
Websites such as Zuji.com.sg help to compile live data instantly, and show flight, accommodation and travel information all in one place. This allows you to compare your options and get a better deal.
Set a budget
Using budget airlines can help shave hundreds of dollars off your trip. Remember to look out for limited-time-only promotions by the airlines.
However, passengers should note that everything other than the ticket will cost them extra. These include baggage fees, airport taxes and food and drinks.
And since most budget airlines don’t allow seat reservations, get ready to rush for the less claustrophobic seats.
If you’re heading somewhere nearby such as Kuala Lumpur, Thailand or Indonesia, consider public transport such as the train, bus or ferry.
In contrast to their dingy reputation, these alternatives boast comfortable seats and ample legroom. It might take you a while to reach your destination, but you’ll be able to save a bit of cash, stay comfortable and also sample other cultures along the way.
Create an itinerary of your trip – this will help you keep track of all your transport schedules, especially if you have connecting flights. It will also remind you of the initial aim of your journey.
Missing flights and being stranded in an unknown location is neither fun nor safe. (back to top)
Before you leave…
It ain’t heavy, it’s my baggage
Packing light might save you from paying the additional baggage charge. One way to do this is to pack the essentials and just a few accessories. Clothes that allow you to mix and match will give you the maximum style with minimal hassle.
Money, money, money
Remember to have the right currency since credit cards are not universally accepted.
Try not to keep large amounts of money in one location. Have a reserve stash hidden in case of emergencies.
Be a geek
In the interest of working on a shoestring budget, why buy a travel guidebook when you can borrow it from your library? We recommend the Lonely Planet and Rough Guides series, due to their excellent pictures, advice, tips and destination information. Just remember to return your book on time. (back to top)