I am traveling these days in South East Asia. The trip is around 4 countries, 17 cities and 90 days. The total amount of money I am spending is around 4,500 US dollars. I use few tricks to plan and book my travel. In this blog post, sharing the same with you. Hope you will be able to save some bucks from these tricks.
Be it any trip, if you are traveling by plane the flight tickets are going to be the first expense and probably one of the major expense too. So here is how I do the booking:
- The first rule is, to not have a fixed travel dates. If you are planning a trip, do not plan the dates first. Book the flight tickets first and then apply for leaves. A lot of times, if you change the travel date by even one day you will be able to save good money.
- Always carry the least amount of luggage possible. Carriers like AirAsia, they give cheap tickets which they call as Low Fare. But they will charge for any check-in baggage you have. So if you can manage to take less than 7 KG, you can get the tickets real cheap. I traveled to Australia in October 2015 with AirAsia and my return tickets from Sydney to India was only 360 USD.
- To find the offers from AirAsia website, just visit the website and click on the banner scrolling which shows the offers. When you click on the offer you are interested, you will land to a page which will show you the minimum price for each journey. Again, you need to be flexible with the travel dates so that you can choose the least price date available. Check out the images below, where I have selected the Journey start point and it shows me the available destinations and the price minimum.
- I always prefer to book the tickets from the official website. For example, I will search all the websites about the price but will finally book it from the official airline website unless there is a marginal price difference. There are two reasons for this. First, in the case of modification, the airline will charge less. Second, the booking fee is less almost all the time. Only, book from a third party when you are getting real good discount or some great offer,
- To search for the cheapest possible available, I always use Skyscanner. This website compares the flight ticket price from multiple websites and gives you the cheapest possible option. Also, there are options like looking at the month long price chart or selecting a nearby airport.
- The next thing is to book hotels. The most important point is to keep a regular check on the offers that the hotel booking websites are giving. Almost all the time, I am able to find some coupon from the internet which gives me 30-40% discount.
- If in case, you are not able to get any discount online. Do not book the hotel for the whole stay (if it is longer than 3 nights). This is because you can then negotiate with the hotel to give you a better price and then can save some money. This way you just bypass the online booking agent.
- If you are from India, you must be aware of MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo. Both of these websites give amazing deals for hotels. I have booked great hotels for a lesser price than the hotel can give directly.
- Also, check what offer these hotels give if you book it for a longer stay.
- Airbnb can be a great option too if you are planning to stay longer than a week. But for less than a week stay, I never find Airbnb a better option than Hotel.
Where to go in a city you do not know about?
Navigation around the complex lanes
Almost in all the countries I visit, the first thing I do is to buy a SIM card with data. Having internet access all the time is a great power if you know how to use that. Some of the things which help you:
- It goes without saying that Google Maps is your best friend. In Thailand, I explored all the islands on a scooter by myself without asking for direction even once. Few things that a lot of people does not know is that you can actually save the offline map of a whole city or even a bigger area. A lot of countries are available to be saved offline. The only feature you can not use in an offline map is the search option. Otherwise, if you do not have the data connection then just download the offline map of the area when you are in a wifi zone.
- Also as explained above, use TripAdvisor app to find things near you to visit.
- You can search for things like, How to go from Hanoi Airport to the city in a cheap way? I was stuck alone in Hanoi airport in Vietnam and the city is around 30 KM away. Getting a taxi would cost around 30 USD. But I just searched on google and found that a bus standing 50 feet away from me takes me to the city for 3 USD. I could never have figured that out because there were no sign boards on the bus or anywhere near. What was there, was in Vietnamese.
- You can also find things like American restaurant, Burger King, hotel, bus stand, taxi, travel information stuff like this anytime on your google map. Trust me it saves a lot of time and money, paying few bucks for a SIM and data.
Hope some of these tricks and apps will help you plan your travel. Feel free to drop a message or question if you have. Happy Traveling 🙂