Cheque please

A lot of people I know have this idea in their head that overseas travel is really expensive and that you need to save up a big wad of cash before even considering it. However, I strongly disagree. Yes, I earn a decent wage but I’m hardly the worlds best saver and I live in a city with an extremely high cost of living. 

Given that I’m from a city with a high cost of living, it’s easy enough to find somewhere to visit that is cheaper. Pair that with a country whose dollar is worse than your own and bam! Its just not as expensive as you’d think.

For those on an extra tight purse string, here’s some unwarranted travel advice 😊 

Firstly, do your homework on flights. I know it might seem easier to pick a good deal from a local travel agent but reality is it’s just not that hard to be your own travel agent. I use skyscanner for all my flights and I’m not overly picky about my destinations. I decide on a particular place that is non negotiable then think about the amount of time I can get off work and go from there. For example, my friend wanted me to join  him in Russia for 2 weeks, he set the dates and amount of time that we’ll be there. But I wanted to be out of the country for a month and I like being a solo traveller so created some flexibility around those dates.

New Zealand is off the coast of nowhere and I need to fly through Australia then Asia to get to most places on my wanderlust wishlist. I spotted a ridiculously cheap air Asia flight to Phuket, before booking I looked at the cheapest option from Bangkok to Moscow and compared it with Kuala Lumpur to Moscow. The Phuket/Bangkok combo won by a mile so I started building my trip. 

I want to see more of the Middle East so the next step was to look at options from Moscow to Dubai, Muscat and Doha. Then start ordering the flight combination to create the cheapest way to see the places I want to go to. Behold the Moscow/Muscat/Doha/Dubai leg of the trip. My cheapest way home is via Kuala Lumpur, but it pays to look at all airports in the UAE because flying out of Sharjah instead of Dubai has saved me a pretty penny.

Anyhoo… use tools like skyscanner and do your research. There’s also the option to select ‘Everywhere’ as a destination when you’re short on inspiration but keen to get away from the trappings of day to day life.

My next money saver is using public transport as much as possible. Especially trains as they dodge traffic and it’s easier to figure out when your stop is compared with a bus. For example… from my hotel to the airport yesterday cost me 40 baht ($1.60 nzd) and 30 mins on the skytrain. If I’d opted for a taxi it would have cost me atleast 300 baht ($12 nzd) and more than 50 mins at that time of day. small savings like this truly add up and being able to navigate the public transport system in a foreign city gives you a level of confidence that can’t be replicated when being reliant on taxis.

When it comes to accommodation I like to mix it up. I set myself a budget per night, then balance it out over the length of the trip. I save by using sites like booking.com and airbnb which help me keep costs down. I go for a mixture of fancy and budget accommodation because I’m too precious to rough it all the time but I’m not rich enough to saunter through hotel lobbies adorned with chandeliers and giant floral displays. I also opt for flights that make me travel through the night. Its exhausting but it saves me a night of accommodation… plus I don’t want to waste my daytime exploring hours being stuck in the same seat, sharing my personal space with strangers. 

I’m currently mid flight on the first of 3 flights today. Sadly my entertainment screen doesn’t work so I bought on-board Wi-Fi so that I can catch up on shortland street and keep myself amused. 

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