If you’re reading this, chances are you are a student. If you are a student, chances are you are familiar with being broke af. As students, we barely have enough money for a night out or going out shopping, so how on earth can we afford a grad trip, or any trip for that matter? It’s also time for us to do some #adulting (come on, uni students) and try not to just stick out our hand at our parents and ask for money. So here are some tips on how to kickstart your travel fund to be able to afford a grad trip WITHOUT your parents’ help.
Cue WERK WERK WERK WERK WERK~ Now this may sound very common-sensical, but the best way to have money for something is to actually go make that money.
With more money to go around, it is easier for you to have extra cash that you can put aside for that travel fund. So stop making excuses and go get a part-time job. During summer, during weekends, heck, even during term-time if you can manage it!
For term-time jobs, try looking around at the many cafes in Singapore. Many could use an extra pair of hands, especially on weekends. Set a routine for which days of the week you will go to work, so that you will still have time for school work and other activities. Time management is key, kids!
To those who think that having a job while juggling school at the same time is way too much to handle, let me tell you that I once held two part-time jobs during term time, and my grades aren’t too bad at all (imo). So just try it out, for the sake of your travel dreams, and get a job (or two). Keep in mind that there are job opportunities everywhere, including online, where jobs are more skill-based.
*Related Post: 4 Simple Reasons why you must take a Grad Trip
This point comes hand-in-hand with earning more money. You don’t want to be spending all your hard-earned money on things OTHER than travel now, do you? To avoid that, really think twice every time you pull out your wallet – do you really need to get a canned drink during lunch? Do you really need those cute stickers your school group is selling for fund-raising? Do you really need to take an uber? – You get the drift.
And on that point of taking an uber, I know it’s very very tempting to call a cab to go just about anywhere, given the price war between Grab and Uber and just how convenient apps make it to get a cab. But don’t. Resist the temptation. Think about how much you can save if you just take public transport!
For me, I find that keeping my savings at home in cash helps me to not spend it, because it is just too easy to withdraw and use my money if I leave it in my bank account. So if I don’t bring money out, I don’t spend it.
Other money-saving tactics that I employ include saving every $5 note I come across and bringing a water bottle with me everywhere I go so that I won’t spend on drinks. Those few dollars spent on drinks every day can really add up.
So what I’m trying to say is, everyone has different money-saving habits that work for them and some that don’t. Try out different tactics and find some that best suit your lifestyle habits (some people simply MUST have tehbing everyday) so that you don’t end up miserable but also manage to contribute to your travel fund regularly.
I cannot emphasize how important this point is if you want to travel on a budget. There are many student discounts and free things all over the world that you can take advantage of, if only you knew about them. Let me just share with you some of my experiences. The learning points should be self-explanatory as you pick up on my mistakes.
Firstly, I would totally recommend getting this thing called the ISIC card. It’s the International Student Identity Card which entitles students to discounts on many things – from dining at selected restaurants to attraction tickets. You can check out some of their deals in different countries here on their website, or simply download their app. The card is not free – it costs S$25 for Singaporeans, but it is definitely worth it, especially if you are going to European countries or Australia and New Zealand as these countries have many more participating vendors with discounts to offer. You can even use these discounts in Singapore.
Anyway, so I got my ISIC card for free as a deal while booking my air tickets to London, but the problem was, I did not bother to check out what deals the card entitled me to. So you can imagine my horror and self-loathing when I found out that my £25 Les Miserables ticket could have cost £16 instead, if I only bothered to book using my ISIC card!
Also, in London, I found out (too late) about this thing called the Sky Garden, where entrance is free, except that you have to book a slot online in advance (think National Gallery when it first opened). For the Sky Garden, slots are released three weeks in advance, and as fate would have it, I was in London for exactly three weeks too! However, I found out about the Gardens’ existence a few days into my trip, and guess what, there were absolutely no slots left. This is what being slow for a few days can cost you – free panoramic views of London city.
So, the moral of these stories, kids, is to do your research! It also pays to know about certain less-pleasant practices targeting tourists in your destination country. For example, Tuktuks and cabs in Thailand are notorious for ripping tourists off by charging way more than what the trip is worth or by not turning their meters on and charging an inflated flat fee at the end of the trip. So by knowing the existence of these practices, you can avoid being ripped off or spending unnecessarily.
*Read about other Travel Tips, Guides, and Experiences here at: PROJECT #GOANYWHR
Plan plan plan; plan absolutely everything you can, and plan early. As everyone probably already knows, plane tickets and accommodation become more expensive the closer you book to your travel dates. So plan and book those asap.
Try Anywhr.co if you still have absolutely no idea where you want to go. The best thing is, they do the booking of plane tickets and accommodation for you! Simply let them know your budget and travel dates and get ready to be pleasantly surprised. By travelling with them, you don’t have to worry about going over-budget for your plane tickets and accommodation, which are often where most of your budget goes to when you travel.
Another perk of travelling with Anywhr.co, is that you get to be surprised! The good folks at Anywhr.co are out to plan a trip to a mystery destination for you so that you can truly experience being a traveller instead of being a mere tourist. Their service is also great if you feel that you simply just need to get away. A spontaneous trip is a great chance to explore a mystery destination, and who knows, it may just turn out to be one of your best trips yet!
Another thing to plan for is your travel routes for each day. Bunch places that are close together and visit each bunch at a time. This saves time and transport money as you fork out less money to travel between places that are closer to each other, instead of spending on more longer-distance trip fares. Some places may even be close enough to walk, bringing your transport cost to zero!
One last little tip before you go off packing for your next trip, is to find out about any hidden costs. In some countries, unlike Singapore, tipping is a common practice. So you may want to find out how much people usually tip and at what kind of places. Entrance and booking fees are also some hidden costs that may surface, so whichever attraction you visit, make sure that you do not get a nasty surprise when you get there and find out that the museum exhibit that you really wanted to see is actually a ticketed part of the otherwise free museum (yes, Natural History Museum, I’m looking at you).
As my parting words, here is a bit of my budget travel philosophy: Spend wisely, but also spend where you should. Don’t make yourself miserable by not spending on anything at all; that would make for a very regretful trip. Some experiences are priceless, and what those experiences are is up to you to decide for yourself. Here’s to great travels!