Budget Travel Hacks for the Singaporean Auntie in You (part 1)
So, like any other good Millennial, you have a constant thirst for travel and new experiences outside of this tiny red dot. This phenomenon is widely known to be due to #wanderlust. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford the bougie travel lifestyle or keep up with the many #travelgoals we see on our Instagram feed. This is where your inner Singaporean auntie makes an appearance to give you a leg up in colouring the (budget) travel map of your dreams. Read on to part 1: Preparing for your overseas travels.
Tip #1: Wait for airline flash sales
The mark of a true budget traveller is knowing when airlines have flash sales on flight tickets. Such travel deals usually have several limitations, such as minimum travel numbers or only valid for off-peak periods with blackout dates. However, if you are flexible with your travel periods and destinations, you can save a lot of money just by booking based on the current deals. It helps if you already have an idea of where and when you would like to travel earlier in the year, then sit tight for when these deals flash up on your screen. Be sure to follow various airlines on their social media and turn on their notifications so you don’t miss out on limited-time deals (that usually pop up on Tuesdays or Fridays).
Tip #2: Stick with the no-frills option
Great travel deals usually come with the no-frills option, especially on budget flights. To make your experience more comfortable sans the in-flight entertainment, accompanying menu and luggage add-ons, make sure you come well-prepared before the flight.
If you have a subscription to Netflix or Spotify, you can download the media onto your smartphone while you still have data connection before your flight and enjoy it freely on board even without a wifi connection. If you don’t use these apps, take the few hours in the skies to truly disconnect and finish the novel you have been meaning to read but never had have the chance to while on the ground.
If you are going on a short getaway, travelling light with a small cabin bag is perfect for saving time and money. You get to skip the bag-drop if you are able to check-in online beforehand, not have to stand by the luggage carousel for an unknown period of time when you are itching to leave the airport and explore your holiday destination already, and you can rest easy that you won’t lose your baggage during a transfer or connecting flight.
Lastly, pre-order menus when you book your tickets online might be slightly more expensive than the actual in-flight menu. Consider waiting till you are in the plane and feeling peckish before ordering a snack from the steward(ess). Who knows, you might not even be hungry when you get on-board.
Tip #3: Never change money at the airport
It is never advisable to change currency at the airport, locally or overseas. In fact, some countries outside of Asia might not list Singapore Dollar on their exchange board, which can cause you to lose a substantial amount of money if you do not do your due diligence. In this case, it is always essential to carve out some time in the days leading up to your trip to exchange money at the best rates. I usually use CashChanger to find the best exchange rate within Raffles Place.
For those with shorter notice, you might get a slightly worse exchange rate at your heartland mall, but it will definitely be better than changing money at the airport. Make sure to take some extra Sing dollars with you for emergencies to save on ATM transaction fees should you need to withdraw money overseas, or apply for a good credit card (hopefully with same-day approval and delivery) that gives you cashback or miles for your overseas spend.
Tip #4: Ditch the luxury 4/5-star hotels
We all like to live in the lap of luxury while we are on vacation to forget the ordinary of the life back home, just for a little while. However, I would say, save that experience for when you’re older with a lower threshold, and bigger wallet, for the rough-and-tumble of budget travel. There are, of course, many backpacker hostels around, but for a more comfortable experience, Airbnbs and rental apartments would be a great way to get an insight to living like a local while having your own personal space to rest and relax. If you’re lucky, you might have a friendly host who readily provides you with tips for the area or even takes you out for drinks. If you manage to snag an airbnb with your own private kitchen, read on for my bonus tip below.
Bonus tip: Gourmet* meals on a budget!
An effective way to save on your trip is by taking a trip to the local market and buying fresh produce and ingredients to make part of your meals at home. Of course, you should try as much of the local cuisine as possible, but when you have had enough of spending money on restaurants or limiting yourself to cheap, fast food, perhaps you can plan a less hectic day in your own apartment while honing your culinary skills at the same time.
*subject to personal abilities and preferences
I hope the above tips have given you more ideas on how to travel comfortably on a budget and inspired you to make the best out of your money and time while you collect stamps in your red passport. Stay tune to more travel hacks in Part 2!