Nowadays, it's practically impossible to open up Instagram and not be swamped by pictures of young people frolicking in exotic places. These are often also peppered with hashtags like #wanderlust, #blessed and #YOLO - making it harder not to get sucked into this dream of dropping everything right now to travel the world.
In the midst of studying your asses off, is it even possible to see the world before getting tied down to your first career? Especially when you barely have enough at the end of the month to scrape by?
Here are 5 ways to make that possible. (the budget way, of course):
1. Turn spare foreign currency into money
One of the coolest things to be launched recently at Changi Airport is a TravelersBox kiosk that aims to make leftover foreign currency useful again. By depositing foreign change into the kiosk, you can select from redeeming gift cards from a range of brands, adding the cash into your PayPal account, or choose to make a donation.
Accumulate spare foreign change from your family and friends, and exchange them for PayPal dollars just before you head off for your flight. If you're heading to a country that also has Grab, you can get a Grab gift card to save on transport getting around the city you're visiting.
2. Book your flights at promotional prices
When it comes to getting those dirt cheap fares, it’s all about the off-peak periods. This includes booking your flights at the weirdest timings possible. I once woke up at 4am just to take advantage of Jetstar's 2nd Anniversary offer and snagged a $0.02 flight to Hong Kong!! Even with flight taxes and fees, my ticket still amounted to less than $40.
The difference between a few days and a few hours can very well save you and your traveling buddies a couple hundred bucks. Flights tend to be cheaper on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, while mid-day flight timings like 2-6pm fetch lower rates.
Budget carriers such as Jetstar, Scoot, and Tigerair usually have promotions every week too, so you might want to subscribe to their emails 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 from 8am onwards
- Scoot’s Morning Glory: Every Tuesday from 7am- 9am
- Tigerair’s Tiger Flash: Every Thursday all day
You can also take advantage of exam periods in Singapore (around the April/May and September/October period) where flights out of Singapore are at their lowest due to most families with young children likely not travelling so as to prepare their kids for exams.
Research done by Skyscanner also show the best timings to book your flight tickets; booking between 21-25 weeks prior to your travel date can save you up to 22%!
3. Cheaper accommodation doesn't mean crappy ones
You can easily save a few hundred dollars on accommodations simply by searching for cheaper alternatives. Nowadays, websites like Airbnb allow you to rent rooms, houses, villas at much lower cost than a hotel or even a bed & breakfast. It’s one of my favourite choices since cash never trades hands - the payment is fully transacted through Airbnb’s website. Although I do like to bring some Singapore souvenirs like a Bengawan Solo pandan cake to gift to my host.
If you are traveling with a group of friends (it helps if they are muscular and scary), you can even consider couch-surfing at a local's home. Alternatively, you could just scroll through your Facebook friends list to see if a foreign friend can host you for the period you’re travelling. That way, you don’t even have to pay!
As a last resort, websites such as Groupon, Agoda and Expedia also offer bundles and secret deals if you have the time to read through the various fine print to see whether the terms and conditions are fair.
4. A portable wifi router 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 wifi routers with fares are usually charged per day. Bonus: they can be shared with up to 8 people.
You can pick them up either at your travel destination - we recommend the Klook app for renting wifi routers for as low as $3 per day, or you can also rent them from our very own Changi Airport. Simply book online and collect just before you fly. Pro Tip: Do check the Changi Recommends Facebook page as it frequently posts wifi router rental promo codes.
5. Skip the tour and get around the city yourself
Tour agencies usually charge extra for their services (duh) and wind up bringing you to the most touristy places to eat or shop so they can earn a fat commission for themselves. Instead of signing up for a tour package with a travel agency, read up on TripAdvisor and travel blogs for the best places to go. Usually, most of the places the locals go to are relatively cheap, and even free!
If you're heading to a major city, it helps to download an app like Google Trips and Citymapper that suggests walking tours as well as cool places to eat, drink and check out based on locals' (and tourists who have visited previously) recommendations. Those apps also have offline maps (with routes for buses, trains, trams etc) offline for easier navigation.