You know, with all the articles and pictures of beautiful exotic places circulating our social media feeds, it’s hard not to get drawn into this wanderlust dream of travelling the world. All that stress from working our asses off, studying and what not- if only we could get away from all the chaos. It’ll be great to see the world before we get tied down! But what’s a person to do when we barely have enough to save for our future expenses?
Well, we go the budget way of course. The student budget that is. Here’s how:
Make the most of your finances
Besides reading up blogs and planning your budget, maximise your finances by accumulating excess foreign change from your family and friends and exchange them. There’s a Traveler’s Box kiosk in Changi Airport that allows us to convert leftover coins for PayPal dollars. To get the best exchange rate, you would also want to monitor the exchange rate a few weeks prior to your trip overseas.
Check out nearby getaways that are easily accessible via car/boat
Nearby locations such as Batam and Bintan are easily accessible through ferry and driving. Round-trip ferry rates to Batam ranges anywhere from $30-$40 while rates to Bintan ranges $40-$50. From there, you can arrange transport to nearby beach resorts. Teluna Resorts is one example that is a boat ride away from your place of arrival (Sekupang). With Singapore being such close proximity to many tropical islands, beach holidays are getaways we definitely can afford.
Get your flight/transport tickets at promotional prices:
If you’ve a credit card, check if your card has redeemable airmiles on your next flight out, and cross-reference your options to the cheapest flights you can find online. Promotional fares are usually not eligible for airmiles redemption, but the good news is even without them, these prices may still be cheaper than if you redeemed those miles. Hence the need to compare.
Budget carriers such as Jetstar, Scoot, and Tigerair usually have promotions every week, so you might want to subscribe to their mailers and keep a lookout for their weekly budget flight sales. Here’s a list of the weekly sales:
|Jetstar’s Friday Fare Frenzy||Every Friday at selected timings from 8am (-11pm?)|
|Scoot’s Morning Glory||Every Tuesday 7am- 9am|
|Tigerair’s Tiger Flash||All day every Thursday|
Jetstar also has a special “price watch” feature now to help you keep track of specific flight fares for your future holiday plans.
It’s almost a given that examination periods in Singapore (exams usually happen around the April/May and September/October period) are lull periods where airfares are at their lowest. Most families with young children will most likely stay close to home to prepare the kids for looming examinations. If you’re travelling further, websites like Kayak.sg have an “explore” function for us to see which months are airfares cheaper in our planned destination.
When it comes to getting those dirt cheap fares, it’s all about the off-peak periods. That includes getting your flight tickets at weird timings and dates. The difference between a few days and/or a few hours can very well cost or save you a couple hundred dollars. Flights tend to be cheaper on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while mid-day flight timings like 2-6pm fetch lower rates. So best is you get the best of both worlds lah huh. Most airlines will display their rates for a range of days and timings, you’ll want to plan your off day around the cheapest. So please don’t be a kan-cheong spider and take your off-days before you even see that range.
Research done by Skyscanner also show the best timings to book your flight tickets; booking between 21 to 25 weeks prior to your travel date allows you 21 to 22% of savings. Why and how they came to that conclusion- I’ll never know…Just know it’s good for you. Also, you might want to pack light when you’re travelling so you can avoid paying for extra baggage if you’re travelling budget. And book your tickets in pairs.
Cheaper accommodation options
Hostels, budget hotels, motels, bed and breakfast. You can easily save a few thousand on accommodations by searching for cheaper alternatives. Websites like Airbnb allow you to rent rooms, houses, villas, and even couchsurf at local homes. It’s relatively safe since cash never trades hands, the payment is handled through Airbnb’s website. Alternatively, you could just search up your friends list and see if your foreign friend could host you for the period you’re travelling. That way, you don’t even have to pay! Websites such as Groupon, Agoda and Expedia also offer bundles and secret deals. Just be sure to take note of the fine print, as each individual bundle comes with a different set of terms and conditions.
Portable Wifi is the new prepaid SIM card
Gone are the days when you had to buy sim cards for international calls back to Singapore and activating your auto-roam. You can now save costs by renting portable wifis either in your travel destination (do your research to see whichever’s cheaper) or from our very own Changi Airport and calling through whatsapp. Fares are usually charged per day and can be shared with a group of friends.
Skip the tour, get around the city yourself
Tour agencies usually charge extra for their services (duh) and wind up bringing you to the most touristy or dingey places to eat or shop so they can earn addition commission. Instead of signing up for a tour package with a travel agency, read up on blogs on the best places to check out and free sights you could go to. If you’ve not found anything, most major cities also provide free walking tours! Just google it or better yet: befriend the locals and ask them to take you around! Apps such as MetrO allows users to download maps (with routes for buses, trains, trams etc) offline so we can easily navigate round the city without getting lost.
A city “tourist” card or the STA student card can get you discounts and free access to major attractions,museums and even public transport. So be sure to bring along your student card (yes even your poly/uni one) even if you think you’re not going to use it. ‘Cause student discounts are abundant everywhere.
Stay away from main tourist areas
Besides having inflated prices that bleeds us dry, tourist areas are also not an accurate representation of the local scene, which is why we travel in the first place. You’ll want to avoid touristy restaurants and shops by looking out for “We speak English” signs and multilingual menus. Places filled with locals are usually the hidden gems you’ll want to venture to. If don’t know how to order from the restaurant, just pick their signature dishes or specials.
Weigh in on transport costs
Sometimes, renting a car in the city might be cheaper than taking public transport, especially when you’re travelling in a group. For example, in Australia, cars are a more feasible option to public transport as it presents more value when travel time and costs are factored in. So, do consider renting a car if it’s cheaper.
Save on your protection
Travel insurance is always a must as you’ll never know when a major accident will happen and you’ll incur a huge cost. If you travel often, consider an annual trip travel insurance to cover your countless trips. When in doubt, check out our travel insurance comparison tool.
Have any tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below!