Brilliant Ways to Travel Cheap

Take it from these masters of the road, 2016 is your year to travel  

Another year has come to pass and for most of us it was 365 days of backbreaking work and then some. While we look at it as a badge of honor in helping the country move forward, we also deserve that time off to indulge in a bit of travel. Doing so doesn’t necessarily mean burning all our hard earned money in one trip to the beach or some exotic location somewhere. If planned properly and guided accordingly, we could stretch our meager budget and still enjoy a memorable experience on the road. As the old adage says “There’s nothing travel cannot fix.” It is high time to recharge yourself in preparation for the challenges of the coming year. So start plotting your vacation leaves and be open to the idea of exploring new cultures, tasting new delicacies, meeting new people, and walking unfamiliar streets. But before that, read up on what these travel bloggers have to dish as they share some amazing ways to travel on a string budget.

Pack Right and Travel Light

Claire Madarang of I am Traveling Light

“When flying, especially with budget airlines, don’t check in baggage. Pack light and carry only what you count as essentials. You don’t only save on money but also on time as you breeze through airports. You will feel the savings especially when you have multiple flights. One time I flew from Manila to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and then later to Yangon, and I saved over R1,000. If you are buying pasalubong¸ choose light ones like scarves and purses. If you absolutely have to have check in baggage, see if you can share it with one person or more, especially if you are traveling with a group.”

JhoVd of Mountains N Beyond 

“Bring appropriate clothes or the needed wear. This way, you’ll avoid spending more money for outfits or attire. Read about or anticipate the weather and the activities you would do where you’re going.”

Limited budget? Plan and book ahead!

Mai Flores of Budget Biyahera

“Generally, to budget is to allocate. Given this, traveling becomes an easy task when I budget my projected expenses for a trip. The process itself helps me determine what I still need to save up for. Getting seats during a sale can be an advantage even though the trip can still be a year from now. (Cebu Pacific offers good airfare deals all-year round). But having a six to 12 month timeframe is enough time to create an itinerary, as I get to do more research on the destination I’m heading to. By doing so, I get to learn how much transportation fees are on an estimate (i.e. boat and motorcycle fares), how much my preferred lodgings are worth and so on.”

Converse with the Locals

Christine Fernandez of Jovial Wanderer

Ferdz Decena

“Talk to the locals but be mindful of local customs so you don’t come off as intrusive. You don’t even have to ask a random stranger on the street, you can try the hotel and restaurant staff or drivers of public transportation. I learned that by simply telling them about your plans or asking the best way to get to a destination, you can get information on the cheapest way to do it or in some cases, some would even be more than willing to take you there for free or at least give you a ride (especially on domestic travels). Of course, language barrier can be a factor in some destinations so you may want to ask for tips in advance by posting on social media or getting in touch with a travel blogger in the area. By asking online, you get to reach more people and receive information quickly.”

Karla Ramos of Karla Around the World

“A local will give you insight on alternatives to the very costly sights and give you a more practical option that will result in the same experience. You also get to try the local food at home, and learn the language and the traditions. I traveled with locals in South Africa and I got 30 percent off most of the time. I also learned a lot about their culture.Walk, tour, go to a local grocery, and cook food. You can bond, eat, and laugh together.”

Take public transportation and/or choose the best flight options

Joshua Berida of The Wandering Juan

Joshua Berida

“One way to travel cheap is to take public transportation. In the provinces, take jeeps or non-air-conditioned buses to reduce your expenses. This also provides you with a great way to experience the countryside, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the view as it changes from concrete to farmlands, from high-rise buildings to nipa huts. In other countries, taking public transport is not just a budget-friendly option, it is an adventure. The foreign signs and language keep you on your toes because you might miss your stop if you don’t pay attention. It also gives you the chance to talk with locals. In my experience, someone is always willing to help a tourist, all you need to do is ask.

Karla Ramos

“Often, the quickest way to get to a place is also the most expensive. But what people sometimes don’t realize is that there are countless ways to get to a certain destination. When choosing a flight, check the cheapest place to depart from. Take note that not all travel flight scanners (Skyscanner, Expedia, Momondo , Google Flights) are equal. Sometimes, what happens is when the trackers see that you search for the same flights for multiple times, it automatically increases the price. Best to search in Incognito mode so that the computer won’t be tracking your cookies. That way, you will still be able to get the cheapest promos. You may opt to take other entry and exit points that you can connect via bus, train, or ferry. Direct flights can sometimes cost so much more. Be aware of certain airline promos. It’s usually cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Thursday compared to a weekend. Be open to red eye flights, early morning, or late night, as they are usually a lot cheaper.”

Mervz Marasigan of Pinoy Adventurista

“I’ve always believed that a well-planned trip is cheaper than those ‘spur-of-the-moment’ adventures. Travel during off-peak season as well as on a weekday. It’s always way cheaper than during weekends and especially during summer months and peak seasons. Book your airline tickets several months ahead of your scheduled trip because it costs a lot cheaper compared to booking it on the last minute. Most local airlines offer very cheap and affordable seat sale promos with travel periods six months to a year in advance, so better plan your trip ahead of time and book your tickets in advance. This is one of my ‘tried-and-tested ways’ on saving a lot on travel expenses.”

Paula O of Pondering Pao

“The best seat sales happen during mid-week or in conjunction with local holidays. I sacrifice precious hours of sleep as I need to be online at 12 midnight to make sure I can book my desired destinations or flight schedule/s.”

Take advantage of free walking tours and other activities

Milet Miranda of Project Gora

“If you want to learn about the history and culture of a certain country but don’t have the cash to splurge on it, then take a free walking tour. Most major cities in the world offer free tours with an experienced guide who will introduce you to the city’s most famous attractions. Remember to check the country’s official tourism website to know about the schedule, available languages, and reservation policy.”

Karla Ramos

“When you search the Internet for things to do in a certain destination, it usually involves tours that cost. Try to search for free stuff. In Hong Kong, museums are free on Wednesdays. In Paris, the Louvre is cheaper on Fridays (at least during the time we went). Check their websites. Be aware of that and use it. Hike, go to the park, go to a beach, and go for a picnic and more. Travel slow. Have a mix of tours, nature and all. You’ll see there are a lot of educational and fun things that you can do for free. In some places they even have free yoga, free silent discos, and more.  Not a lot of people think things could be free but yes, that is possible.”

Make friends and memories on the road

Jherson Jaya of Lonely Travelogue

“Don’t be afraid to have friends. Generally, people are good. Really! That’s what I hold on to, especially during my travels where folks are having a lifetime experience. Aside from splitting the cost of your chartered boat in Calaguas or the cost of the horse cart tour in Burma, friends are human beings that allow you to be a human when you travel solo. It’s good to know that you have somebody who would watch your back and could take your perfect sunset shot. And because you are not shy and aloof to the world, you may gain friends from as far as South America.”

Stay at hostels

Grasya Bangoy of Grasya on the Road

Carla Araniego

“Look for promo codes to get discounts on hotels, hostels, homestays, or stay in houses of family and friends but offer some help in exchange so you won’t be labeled as a freeloader”

Ian Dela Pena of Dreams of a Brown Man

“Traveling solo can be expensive. One way to save down on your expenses is by being really friendly. If you are staying in a hostel you can find other travelers who may have the same itinerary as yours. This way you can join forces and save up on transportation, accommodation, and food among others.”

 Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer

Celine Murillo

“When you’re traveling, you can’t get around paying for accommodation, unless, of course, you have relatives in the area or friends of friends who are willing to put you up for the duration of your trip. There’s a way to cut cost though; avoid staying in hotels and book dorm beds in hostels instead. They’re usually cheap, close to major attractions, and, best of all, if you’re traveling solo, you will meet other travelers there. I have stayed in hostels all over the world, from the Philippines and the rest of Asia, to Europe and South America, and I can say that it’s still the best way to keep my travel expenses down, and at the same time, meet new friends.”

Gian and Sheila Jubela of Adrenaline Romance

Gretchen Filart

“Book in bed-and-breakfasts, low-budget inns, or homestays rather than in expensive hotels. Think about it: Do you really need to stay in an expensive, fully-equipped, luxurious hospitality establishment when all you really need is just place to sleep, take a shower, and store your pack? You are most likely to spend most of the day exploring the destination and engaging in adventures rather than staying in your room all day anyway.”

There you go, who said traveling is reserved only for the rich and famous? Not anymore, especially with the advent of budget airlines, the couchsurfing community, social media today plus the availability of a wealth of information regarding travel online. Expanding our world without shelling a lot of money has become attainable for many people. So, go forth and multiply your wonderful memories by packing your backpack and heading out on a trip to the place you been longing to visit for the longest time.

*This article appeared on the January 3, 2016 issue of Manila Bulletin inside the pages of its Lifestyle section*