5 tips to plan an affordable graduation trip
It all begins with setting a budget and sticking to it.
Thinking of rewarding yourself with a long-awaited graduation trip after completing your final year in school?
While travelling can be expensive and you might blow your budget if you are not careful, it is still possible to have a memorable trip without breaking the bank.
Here are five tips to planning a wallet-friendly graduation trip:
1. Plan a trip to a regional destination
Before your clique begins shortlisting countries and cities to travel to, decide how much you can afford to spend for the entirety of the trip.
It is important to note that the destination you pick will have a significant impact on your budget. Therefore, you should make informed decisions on where to go or stay if you are seeking a budget-friendly option.
Travelling to Europe and the US would mean taking long haul flights. These are typically more costly. On top of that, the cost of living is generally higher, resulting in more expenditure.
However, there are many hidden gems in regional destinations that can offer rich cultural experiences and scenic sights. They remain affordable due to the short flights and inexpensive food. Some of these destinations include Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
2. Travel during the off-peak season
You might also want to avoid travelling during peak seasons such as the March or June school holidays.
Airfares are typically more expensive during these windows due to the high demand for travel. For instance, a return trip to Bali on Scoot Airlines costs almost $330 in mid-June while the same trip costs only $270 in mid-May.
You may also be offered promotions by a few airlines – discounted airfares or special deals – when you travel during the off-peak season.
Additionally, websites like Skyscanner give you a rough overview on days its flights are cheaper, making it convenient for travellers to not incur extra costs.
3. Utilise activity booking platforms for discounts
You can maximise your travel experience and minimise your expenses when you do your research on travel deals and discounts.
One such website offering deals is Klook. It allows you to book all of your trip’s essentials — things to do, places to stay and even transport options. The platform also regularly offers package deals and discounts.
However, if you are actively seeking low-budget activities, consider using TripAdvisor, as you can book numerous activities at an affordable price.
Additionally, you can also source for free guided tours in any city on Eventbrite, an event ticketing website that is known to list both paid and free events.
While these walking tours are “free”, it is customary in most places to tip the guides. This, however, should not cost you much.
Otherwise, the concierge or the receptionist in your accommodation are likely to recommend low-cost activities in the area.
4. Book budget-friendly accommodations
Consider opting for hostels, homestays or vacation rentals like Airbnbs instead of expensive hotels.
While you may not have access to luxury amenities like a spa or room service, you can still enjoy a comfortable stay as basic amenities like clean sheets and WiFi are provided.
Airbnbs also offer apartments that can accommodate a large group of people, with the overall cost being much less than the rate for multiple rooms at a hotel.
Those intending to travel to countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia may also want to pay for sleeper train services, where your transportation doubles up as a place to sleep.
These trains are a popular option among many as they can save you an additional night’s stay at an accommodation.
With the money saved on accommodations, you can exercise more flexibility in your itinerary, spending more on activities and experiences.
Opting for these alternatives will not only allow you to extend your trip and visit additional destinations, but get insider tips from the locals on where to go and what to see.
5. Opt for alternative transportation
In some cities, renting a car or hailing a taxi can be an expensive affair.
Hence, walking or biking is a great way to get around and explore the city if your destination is not situated far away.
You can experience these public bike-sharing systems in cities such as Hue and Hoi An, where up to 500 bicycles to share.
If the public transportation in the city is reliable and efficient, you can also consider taking the buses or trains to get around. In Thailand, rail passes are available for purchase, where travellers can use them for a period of 20 days on all Ordinary, Rapid and Express Trains.
You can also consider ride-hailing services such as Grab or Gojek as they are a more wallet-friendly alternative as opposed to hailing a taxi if the fare is split among other travellers.
In Bangkok, tourists can have their own personal ride on standby via Grab, where they can rent a GrabCar and make day trips from as little as THB 500 (SGD $19.45).
This might be a preferred option as compared to local taxi services as you can know your fare upfront and also share your real-time location with friends and family via the Share My Ride feature.
While seeking budget-friendly ways to travel can be an exciting and rewarding experience, it is also crucial to stay alert and vigilant. Always do your research before making any reservations or purchases that seem too good to be true.
The memories you make on your travels will last a lifetime, so make sure they are positive ones by being cautious and staying safe!