Lots of us dream of traveling around the world, visiting extraordinary places, trying food we’ve never laid eyes on before, and meeting people from all walks of life living in vastly different places around the globe. But, the reality is, many of us aren’t doing that. The question is, what’s holding us back?
Aside from having the time to go, the biggest thing holding most of us back is simply the idea that it’d cost an arm and a leg just to go somewhere, but that is simply not true, if you do it right.
First of all, let’s consider flights. Most people have probably heard of budget airlines, but many people either don’t trust the quality of their planes or services, or are simply too afraid to stray from mainstream national airlines. Usually the question is, “If it’s good, why would it be so cheap?” It’s simple: they merely prioritize actually flying people to places, and charge extra for services that many would choose not to have if given the option to not pay for them. This includes check-in baggage, in-flight meals, and in-flight entertainment. In-flight entertainment isn’t even necessary for long flights these days, as most of us have smart phones, tablets, or laptops to entertain ourselves. You can also choose food you actually want to eat before you board, and you still get 7-10kg of carry-on baggage. Also, it goes without saying it is important to book your flight as early as you can, since flights only get more expensive the closer it is to the departure date.
It helps to subscribe to a variety of travel websites to be notified of any deals ahead of time to ensure you have enough time to consider a possible trip. This goes for both flight and hotel deals. Often, you can also take advantage of discounted flight and hotel package deals where you can save a lot of money. This brings us to the next part you can save money on: accommodation.
Package deals are great if you want to stay at nicer hotels, but if you want to prioritize saving money or if you plan to stay for longer than a week, it may be a cheaper option to look at other options on your own. Instead of hotels, you can consider inns, guesthouses, or hostels. In recent years, services like Airbnb also provide a great alternative option, as it allows regular people to rent out empty homes or rooms that they own for guests to stay at for an affordable price. Staying at such places allows visitors to experience life similar to the locals.
Now let’s look at how to save money on food. As a self-proclaimed foodie, this is something I prioritize and never hesitate to spend money on. Whether it is your priority or not, however, some restaurants have coupons available on websites or apps like Groupon. If not, you can always resort to eating cup noodle in the hotel room or buying convenience store food. It fills your stomach all the same.
For other ways to save money during the trip, many markets welcome haggling, so don’t be shy and haggle away! It’s also a good idea to check if there are any deals that are available only to foreign tourists, like the Japan Rail Pass from JR, which isn’t available to Japanese residents. Local transportation such as buses could be scary if you don’t speak the local language, but if possible, find free shuttle buses that go to places near where you’re going. Renting a bike and cycling around may be a good option as well.
While I personally find it challenging and almost fun to scrimp, it’s also important to remind yourself that, at the end of the day, the end goal isn’t about saving money but to have a good time. So, go out there and have fun!
lay eyes on (phrase) - see, notice, spot
all walks of life (idiom) – used to refer to people who have many different jobs or positions in society
cost an arm and a leg (idiom) – to be extremely expensive
foodie (n) – a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet
resort to (phr. v) – to do or use something especially because no other choices are possible
scrimp (v) – to save money by spending less than is necessary to reach an acceptable standard; to be thrifty or economical