By Excel V. Dyquiangco
More than knowing where to travel this summer is learning how to save during your trips. According to Executive Vice President JP Cabalza of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, it is best to purchase your tickets in advance. “You need to look at your trips five to six months in advance,” he says. “Deals with travel agencies or web sites or even visiting expos can provide you with the best deals at huge discounts. Another thing, choose the lean months of June to October to schedule your trips. Fewer people travel during that time so the rates of the trips go down.”
Travel blogger Love Lynn Esguerra says, “When you’re on a vacation, have a comfortable budget or amount of pocket money, keep in mind your average spend per meal or per day just so you can keep within that amount,” she says. “Best to have some buffer though for emergencies.”
Project manager Twinkle Legaspi agrees and adds, “In general, don’t just look at the price. Try to factor in the other elements plus all the hidden charges before making a decision. It helps to have a simple spreadsheet so it’s easier to make a decision.”
When planning your trips, here are a few things to remember:
It’s important that you set aside a certain percentage of your monthly earnings and resist the temptation to touch it. This way, you’ll force yourself to save and have a little something for the rainy day.
Doing this is probably the best way to save money when you travel. That’s because it gives you an idea where most of your budget will go and also see where you can save.
Part of saving is generally about not spending money where you do not get good value. To learn about good value, it is best to search for blogs on the Internet and then check out user reviews.
Research and list down all the various tourist destinations you want to go to, contact details of establishments you visit, hotels, and figure out the best ways to get there so you don’t spend a minute getting lost. Jotting these in a notebook will help you be organized, plus it’s a lot easier to fish out of a bag compared to a stack of lose scratch paper and print-outs
Now let’s get on with the details. Here are ways to save on fares, food, accommodations, tour packages and others.
How to Save on Fares
Book when there’s a promo fare.
Be your own travel agent and search for the best deals online, including group buying sites and travel websites.
- Visit the websites of local airlines and look for promo fares.
For fares, just search airlines.
- PAL has midnight fare promotions that people can take advantage of. Sign up for email alerts from Cebu Pacific and other carriers.
Plane fares are usually lower for flights that are either really early or really late.
- Bring a book to keep yourself busy while you wait for your check-in time or use the time to explore the airport or the actual place you are visiting.
Different airlines have different promos and there is usually a trend on when certain airlines would offer really low rates.
- Low cost airlines will not always offer the best rates. Make sure to check for different rates online and book your tickets between three months to a month before your desired flight. The farther the date doesn’t mean low price; sometimes seat sales happen a month or two before the fly date.
Check out other local air carriers as well.
- Larger airlines now have budget airline subsidiaries. You’ll be surprised to find they can have competitive prices, plus better service.
Save on Accommodations
Stay at hostels or inns.
- You don’t need an AC-room or a flat TV because you are exploring the town/city, not the hotel. If you know you will be spending most of the time outside, you don’t need hotels with amenities you will not even use. As long as it’s clean, has a decent and functioning bathroom, you should be fine.
You can also find discounts in resorts, hotels, restaurants, and even travel packages, when you browse through online coupon and group buying sites.
- Most of the deals there offer 50% off the regular rate!
Go in groups to split expenses.
Book your accommodations in advance and definitely online through websites like Agoda.
- They often offer better rates compared to booking directly with the establishments, plus you earn points each time you book through them.
Live with the locals! Websites like Couchsurfing.org and Wimdu.comare changing the way people travel.
- If you’re the adventurous type and want to meet locals and really experience the destination, then this could be for you. Wimdu presents you with a selection of rooms or condos for rent (sometimes you get the whole place to yourself, but sometimes it means bunking in with the owner of the condo/house).
Save on Tours
Skip packaged tours if you can and make your own itinerary.
- Tours are convenient, but are often not the most rewarding and cost-efficient way to enjoy your destination. Making your own itinerary can be quite challenging especially if it’s for a trip that spans several days. However, you also gain more knowledge about your destination in the process.
For tours and entrance fees, it depends:
- If just a single place, learn how to commute going there and pay entrance fees. If in a group, travel tours offer discounts.
Do It Yourself (DIY )! Instead of availing of tour packages from agencies, you can plan your trip by looking for information online.
- There are a number of great resources on the web, mostly travel blogs that offer first-hand experiences of the places the site owners have visited. Just type the name of the place and then filter it according to “Blogs” instead of “Web Search” to get more personal accounts of travel experiences. You can also send a message to bloggers you like to ask for more tips. Note that you can send an email but don’t expect them to know everything.
Travel in a group.
- You can save up on shared transportation and accommodations. Try to phone a friend in the area where you’re going; they can give you a hint or two on where to go and how to do it. It will save you the hassle and expense of getting lost.
Organize the trip yourself.
- For adventure trips, like white water rafting in CDO, for a group of six or seven people, they give one extra slot for free!
However, consider also convenience.
- It really depends on what traveling preference you have. If you prefer a stressfree weekend out of town, then an inclusive travel package might be the better option for you. If you spend too much time researching, it can also mean less time earning.
Make your own travel journal (itinerary + budget notebook).
- Planning your own itinerary is cheaper alternative to paying for guided tours.
Save on Food
Ask locals for their recommendations on accommodations and places to eat.
- You can save more money if you stick to places where locals eat.
If you’re not much of a breakfast person, opt for the “no breakfast” option that’s available in some hotels. It will cut down your bill.
Make sure to check out the neighborhood markets as well.
- Fruits in season could be up to half of its selling price in Manila.
Bring a water bottle with you all the time.
- A 500ml bottle of water cost up to P50 depending where you are buying it. Imagine saving P50 every time you get thirsty.
Save on Transportation
Be open to using cheaper public transport like tricycles if you are just going to nearby places.
Or walk (it’s healthier too!).
If you can’t form a group for your trip, ask small tour operators if they have open groups where you can join.
- Van rentals and solo boat trips are so expensive when traveling alone.
Remember, you can save money while traveling on your own. But it is best to share your traveling experiences with others. Befriend locals. Not only do you get the best deals but you gain new friends. Tap friends who live in the area. Or ask friends who are familiar with your destination for places to try that are not harsh on the budget. Travel with friends and backpack. Share expenses to others, making it cheaper to rent land and sea transportation, tours, and accommodation.