Nix the Notion of “the cheaper, the better.”
Come on, a vacation is supposed to be fun— and there’s no fun in scrimping on literally the entire experience. There’s a difference between traveling cheap and traveling smart, and the latter involves making choices and decisions that make your trip more sulit and less tinipid. “It’s true that we get what we pay for, so save enough for a reasonably-priced trip,” says de la Paz. “You don’t need to travel cheap—if I find that I need more money, then I would delay the plans so I can save a little more.” Yes, the pressure is on to cross Cambodia off your list of must-visits since everyone you know has been there, but if you’re cutting every corner budget-wise, no sunrise over Angkor Wat is worth the stress. Consider splurging on accommodations if you feel the hotel is worth the experience, but know that means shelving your plans of having Michelin-starred meals at every turn. Same goes for buying a better plane ticket to suit your schedule or comfort levels, but scaling down on transportation or lodging allowances. “It’s all about balancing the budget you’ve set—and you have to be creative,” sums up de la Paz.
treat your trip like a project.
Use those project management skills you probably take for granted on a daily basis. Once you have your approved budget or fund, do your research and your fieldwork. It could be as simple as constantly checking Skyscanner and Airbnb for deals or your credit card for promos. De la Paz cites travel fairs as a great avenue to score good deals. Well-traveled friends and relatives are also a gold mine of information that you might not ordinarily read online (at her friend’s suggestion, de la Paz got to explore Greece in a rented car for only 80 euros for five days!).
think pre-packaged, pre-paid.
Itinerary planning is exciting, but the options can be overwhelming—causing you to maybe spend too much just to fit everything in. Que recommends booking reputable packages that include tours, hotels, and transfers. “That’s so before I leave, most of the trip is already planned out and paid for. That means I only need to worry about budgeting my pocket money.”