Malaysians are fond of travelling, have you heard? It’s true. By 2021, Malaysians are expected to make 14.2 million trips out of the country annually! That would make us the second most seasoned travelers in Southeast Asia.
With the last quarter of the year on our heels, more Malaysians are taking advantage of their annual leave to their dream destination. But travelling can cost an arm and a leg (and a shoulder?) so we’ve decided to compile five money saving travel hacks for budget travellers. Our hacks include finding cheap flights, cheap accommodation and even points you to great cashback deals. Read on and have fun!
Getting the cheapest flight tickets is every traveler’s dream and for a good reason too. Flight tickets are expensive and the Malaysian currency is definitely not helping (for instance, a one way ticket flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing is $388 but in Malaysian Ringgit, it’s a whopping RM1,619!) So what are the best ways to get cheap flight tickets?
It’s all about timing. Booking your ticket flight too early will cost you more since the average domestic fare found six months before a selected departure date was found to be 19% higher than fares searched for a month in advance. Instead, book it around between three weeks and three and a half months before departure. Another factor to consider is when you plan to travel. Summer in most places tend to be more expensive whereas if you decide to book your flight to Europe during Winter, you’ll get it at far less cost.
Another way to get cheap flight tickets is by browsing for them in incognito mode. Now this is an age old theory but it’s still worth mentioning. The reason why browsing in incognito can lead to cheaper prices is the lack of cookies. Cookies are used to track your behavior online which is how they target people with similar services and products. Now how does cheap flight tickets have anything to do with this? It is widely believed that searching repeatedly for the same flight slowly increases the price on that ticket since airlines and flight aggregators track behavior. So, to hide from expensive flight tickets, go on stealth mode.
If you’re the type of traveler that only cares for a rooftop over your head and a comfortable bed, then searching for cheaper accommodation shouldn’t be a big problem for you. But if you’re a bit more hesitant about this, understand that cheap accommodations doesn’t necessarily equate to bad services.
There are plenty of ways to look for money-saving accommodations; one of them is to look for a homestay. Homestays have been around for a long time and it’s understandable why – they’re the epitome of comfort while staying on budget. However, be careful before you book for one. Always ask if necessaries are provided – free meals, Wifi etc. Another cheaper option are apartments and hostels which you can easily find online. What’s really great about apartments and hostels are the space – it costs less to rent one entire apartment for a big group than to book more rooms at a hotel. Plus, apartments and hostels provide its guests with a kitchen for you to cook your meals.
If you still insist on finding yourself a hotel, then try booking straight from the hotel website instead of online booking platforms. This especially works during the off-seasons where rooms are constantly available so hotels will, more often than not, offer “off the books” discounts or upgrades. In addition, hotels often prefer guests who book directly through them and you might get special service and treatment – just something to consider.
But the most important part of finding your accommodation is to be prepared. When it comes to when should you book, it often depends. If you plan to book in advance, make sure to find accommodations that allows you to “pay when you arrive”. That way, if you do find a better option, you can simply cancel your booking without a fuss. Don’t forget to sign up for hotel price alerts which most online booking platforms provide, and be alert for last minute deals!
The next travel hacks for budget travellers is to never underestimate the importance of public transportation when you’re travelling. The general rule about travelling in any country is to avoid taxis. Taxi drivers – although not everyone of them, of course – can be the worst financial leeches. Once they detect that you’re not a local, they’ll start charging extras for what should be a reasonably priced ride, take longer routes for extra income, or outright steal belongings from unsuspecting tourists.
Instead, make the best of public transport. If the destination you’re travelling to has an excellent train system, use them. Most of these countries have multi-ride passes that can last for more than a few days, which will be cheaper than constantly adding on more money as you go. Take the bus. Search up online on how to get bus tickets and know your stops and always be alert. Besides, travelling by public transport means you get to see more and get more in touch with the locals.
Why not rent a car, you ask? Well, for one, renting internationally means more than just driving on the “right” line. To rent a car while you’re overseas, you need to have a permit and a liability insurance. An International Driving Permit costs about RM150 a year according to JPJ. Add that with the rental cost (in UK, renting a car is around RM250 to RM300 per day), you’ll get yourself a hefty total price.
The world is widely connected now thanks to the Internet which is why it’s important you buy a SIM Card as soon as your arrive at your destination or prepare a mobile hotspot for you and your group in advance. But if you’re looking for something cheaper for your Internet, then fear not. Consider stealing Wifi.
This is one the best travel hacks for budget travellers because it’s so worth it. Essentially, all you need to do is browse for a popular restaurant, cafe or hotel and just sign in. Their networks are protected? Foursquare has your back. At the “Tips” section at Foursquare, Wifi passwords are often shared by fellow customers and travellers.
If you feel too guilty about this travel hack, well then we suggest you find free Wifi service at the accommodation of your choice. Easy!
We’ve talked about Shopback here because we just love it so much. At Shopback, you’ll get cashback for each of your purchases. The rates of each cashback differs but rest assured you’ll receive it in two days time (or according to each site’s terms and conditions).
When it comes to travelling, Shopback has multiple platforms under its belt such as Traveloka which offers up to 6% cashback for hotels and 1.5% for flights. Airbnb requires a minimum spend of RM375 is needed to receive a valid cashback while Expedia’s cashback rate is up to 7.5%.If you’re interested in looking for tourist packages then consider Klook. Klook is a personal favourite because it showcases discounted tourist activities for us. For example, at Klook, you can get a Lotte World 1 Day Pass for RM109 instead of its original price, RM201. Plus, you can get 3.5% cashback in return!
Oh, did we mention that your money in your Shopback account can be physically withdrawn? Because you can! So, don’t forget to download your Shopback app with my invite code here to get RM5.
Five travel hacks for budget travellers that will make you spend less money while getting your quality vacation time! We hope you enjoyed this article as much as we had fun writing it.
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