Everyone has that friend who severely overpacks on every overseas vacation and is often spotted lugging around a gigantic suitcase and multiple carry-on bags carrying an entire wardrobe full of clothes and accessories, multiple mobile and computing devices and travel-themed products like packing cubes and bulky passport wallets.
While travelling light is usually the way to go if you’re holidaying on a budget (no need to pay for cabs to transport your huge luggage, no fear of paying luggage fees to your airline), that doesn’t mean you can just rock up at the airport with your wallet, iPod and nothing else. Here are six things to take on any budget vacation that can actually save you money.
Singapore may be full of 7-11s where you can quench your thirst for less than a dollar, but the same can’t be said of many other travel destinations—not only that they don’t have cheap water, but also that 7-11 doesn’t exist, and if you don’t know your way around you could find yourself dying of thirst, or paying for yet another overpriced mojito.
A refillable water bottle is essential when you travel. In some destinations like Italy you can take advantage of free drinking fountains everywhere, while those staying in guesthouses in Thailand or Cambodia can avail themselves of the water dispensers at their accommodation.
It happens all too often. You’ve been walking under the unforgiving sun for 4 hours in a climate that’s even hotter than Singapore’s, or trudging under the rain in a freezing winter hell, and you’re starving.
You’re surrounded by tourist traps where they would gladly charge you a million dollars for a plate of spaghetti if you looked like you could afford it, and common sense tells you not to go in but you’re just too bloody hungry.
Always carrying a few snacks with you resolves that problem instantly. A bag of Tao Kae Noi goes a long way and can fuel you till you find more reasonable eateries.
Those travelling anywhere cold need not bother, but if you’re headed to an area that’s experiencing summer or, worse, is hot and humid like Singapore, come prepared with bug spray.
At Southeast Asian destinations like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos or Indonesia, swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes emerge at night and, in some of these places, can spread not only dengue but malaria.
You might be enjoying that beer at the rooftop bar in Bangkok or chowing down on some late night Khmer hot pot, but once the mosquitoes attack in full force, your night is ruined. Many of the cheap bug sprays you’ll see sold at counters in Southeast Asia don’t really work. Bring your own to be safe.
Smartphone and charger
While we’re not encouraging you to morph into one of those Singaporeans obsessed with finding wifi everywhere they go, mobile phones have evolved to the point where bringing one with you on holiday can actually be very useful.
Download offline maps of the places you’re visiting on Google Maps and you no longer have to panic if you can’t find free maps at the airport. You don’t need to lug around a heavy Lonely Planet either, as you can save the offline version of online travel guides from sites like Wikitravel on your phone using Pocket.
Quick dry towel
If you’re travelling on a budget, you might be staying at low end hotels, guesthouses or hostels where towels and toiletries aren’t provided. If you’re thinking of splurging on one travel-related purchase but don’t want to buy a wifi-powered torchlight or other silly gadget, a quick drying towel is a great choice.
These things are much more compact than regular towels and can be folded into a fairly small rectangle (your towel is often the item that takes up the most space in your luggage). Most importantly though, it can dry in a matter of hours or even minutes, so you don’t have to worry about where to put a soggy towel before moving on to your next destination.
If you’re thinking of skipping town without travel insurance, think again. You might not need to use your travel insurance 9 times out of 10, but the one time you do use it you’ll be glad you bought it all those other times.
Other than the usual benefit of having your medical expenses covered one the go and when you get back to Singapore, there are other perks, too. Having your luggage delayed by just one day can net you a payout of several hundred dollars. A delayed flight could mean a hotel stay instead of sleeping on the airport floor.
Choosing a travel insurance plan doesn’t have to be rocket science, but don’t just buy the airline’s travel insurance either (here’s why). MoneySmart’s travel insurance wizard can point you in the right direction and remove the need to do thesis-worthy research.
What items do you never travel without? Tell us in the comments!