Top 5 money-saving travel tips

by Matthias Sim

Personal Finance News

MasterCard conducted a survey a few months back and the results revealed that most Malaysians have an insatiable hunger for travelling and sightseeing. But just as much as travelling, Malaysians also love a good deal.

If you are looking for ways to make your money go further on your travels; here are the top 5 money-saving travel tips we’ve found from savvy globetrotters.

Tip 1: The early bird gets the best deals

One of the best ways to score cheaper hotel stays, flights and open transport (trains, coach) and tourist passes is through buying or booking earlier. Once you’ve decided on the places you want to see and when; start booking! If you need time to get the funds together, book in stages: flight tickets first, hotel room after… you get the idea. But do remember to book in order of importance! No sense in having a railway pass when you haven’t got your flight tickets!

Tip 2: Do your research


There are many stereotypes that permeate the travel-sphere: that travel agents are more costly and hotel booking sites will give you better deals. That isn’t always true. Sometimes, a travel agent may be able to offer you an entire package with the tours you want at a cheaper rate than if you were to book it all separately on your own. This is because they may have a rapport with airlines and hotels which you don’t.

As for hotel stays, during low season and promotional periods, some hotels offer better discounts if you book directly with them. Many hotels are starting to see that they can cut back on the middle man fee by transferring the savings directly on to customers. Many deal and booking sites have a tonne of conditions and fine print to adhere to. This is mainly because of the agreement struck between the hotel and the site and of course because the site is likely taking a huge chunk of the hotel’s charged rate. So don’t be fooled by the rack rate; always give them a call or drop an email to ask if any offer is ongoing during your intended travel period then compare this with deal-sites and booking sites.

Of course, it’s not to say that this is always the case. A stereotype is created through a genuine situation recurring more often than not. The only way you’ll find out if it’s true for you is by doing your homework first! Also, check your credit card to see if there is any discount offered to you as a cardholder. Many credit cards also have agreements with hotels to offer discounts to their members.

Tip 3: Penny wise pound foolish

Sometimes, you need to spend a little money. Buy a good weighing scale to weigh your luggage. Take it with you to ensure you never end up in a situation where you are paying more for the excess luggage than the items inside are worth! Also, invest in solid luggage bags that will withstand manhandling by baggage handlers. Excess and damaged baggage can cost you a lot of money. Investing in good travel gear will pre-empt this and also last you longer turning into savings in the long run.

Tip 4: Don’t go where the tourists go

Most are aware of this but aren’t sure how to avoid the ‘tourist trap’ venues where even bottled water will cost enough to usually buy a meal. You want to go where locals go; eat where they eat and shop where they shop. Try fraternising in online travel communities such as TripAdvisor or Couchsurfing. In Couchsurfing, simply head to the home page of the country you intend to visit and put a message out asking for guides. There’s bound to be a local willing to help you out. Just abide by Couchsurfing etiquette and at least buy your guide a nice dinner for their effort! 

Tip 5: Decide what is important to you


Travelling for everyone will be different. Some enjoy sightseeing, cultural and architectural; some enjoy food and others may prefer just lounging about or a night out on the town. Decide what is important to you and funnel the bulk of your budget there. This means cutting back on things that aren’t so important to you. But because you will end up doing the very things you enjoy; you won’t feel the pinch of downsizing the other fund allotments.

It is similarly important to travel with like-minded friends. This puts less stress on you when you want to go ahead with your usual travel plans and also helps you save money. You won’t have to spend extra on things you wouldn’t usually want to do while travelling just to effect compromise.

If your travel buddy is your partner who is a very different traveler than you; you will have to put some thought in finding middle ground between your likes, saving money and still having a good time.

These are just some simple tips we’ve found from travel bugs we know. Do you have your own “secret” money saving tips for travelling that you would like to share?