Once upon a time, a friend walked into my office and asked if I wanted to be a teacher in Sekolah Alam Rumbai, the subject will be all about traveling. You are the right person to share your experience since you have traveled around the world, he added. I was honored. It always become my dream and life goal to share my knowledge to others. As a moslem, I was taught that “the best of people are those who bring most benefit to the rest of mankind”. Without having a second thought, I said yes.
It is believed that traveling contributes to personality development. At some point, it will make you more creative, independent, more aware of everything, escalate emotional stability, improve confidence level, teach you how to survive, and many other positive impacts. I’m beyond perfect to claim that I’m the best traveler in the world. I’m just a human being who wants to share what I have learned so far. I sincerely write this post for my facilitator friends in Sekolah Alam Rumbai and of course, for all world citizens. Let’s go!
Where to go
Back in 2008, I built my own bucket list. It consists of things I want to do or places I want to visit before I die, started from doing pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to seeing Aurora Borealis. It’s all about my dream. Ten years later, I revisited the list and added new dreams. The bucket list really help me to shape my traveling plan, as I have no privilege in money and time. I’m just an engineer, an employee. Everything should be well planned and aligned, with work schedule and saving account. And for me, traveling is not just checking the list. It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey. Following questions might help you on before planning your journey.
- Do you want to go overseas or domestic?
I live in Indonesia, a wonderful country with lots of beautiful places. It’s all worth to visit. I have traveled to 23 out of 34 provinces (so far) in Indonesia. Thus for Indonesian, if you think you need to go outside Indonesia for traveling, try to explore your own country. And if overseas trip is your choice, check travel document needed.
- How much time do you have?
- With whom are you traveling with? Solo trip? With group of friends? For me, less is better.
- How much money do you have? Can you afford the trip? Do you have time to save money?
Latest research said, some millennial are willing to have debt in order to get acknowledge from their peers and received lots of likes in their Instagram feed.
- What kind of experience do you prefer? Is it adventure? Go to beach to mountaineering? luxury to budget trip?
Each person is unique. Know yourself. Know your interest. Speak out what is inside your head. Never be afraid to have your own adventure.
- When do you want to go? Is it high or low season? Have you check the weather? Is there any religious event coming up on that place?
I know a person who proudly said he just got a cheap ticket to a place when typhoon always appear on the timing of his visit to that country. Now you know why the ticket is cheap. Another example: No activity allowed in Sabang island – Aceh on Friday morning, everything will back to normal after Friday’s prayer.
How to get there
Once you know where to go, the next question is how to get there. Two things to consider: How far is it from your home and how much time do you have? It will help to decide what kind of transportation you will need to choose. Is it bus, car, motorcycle, train, ferry or airplane?
These are tips about how to find cheap flights:
- Start searching as early as possible. Airline usually release tickets one year in advance. I regularly use a search platform/application such as skyscanner, kayak, or hopper.
- The best time to buy tickets for domestic flight is 2 months in advance and 3 months in advance for international flight. Some airlines have certain promo period. Check their social media or subscribe their mailing list to get most recent news.
- Fridays and Sundays are usually the most expensive days to fly.
- If you have no time restriction, be flexible with your flight date. Above platforms have feature informing the best date/time to fly.
- Cheapest flights normally leave very early in the morning or late at night.
- Be aware of payment method. You may have to pay additional cost if using credit card.
- Check alternate airports at your destination. Sometimes, ticket to secondary airport is cheaper. However, you need to consider transportation to and from your lodge.
- If you don’t know where and when to go, you may consider flying to destination where the cheap flight is available.
- For long haul flight, one way and multi city ticket are more expensive than round trip ticket. Nevertheless, you need to consider additional cost from your last point to departure point. For example, if you go to Italy and plan to land in Milan but your last city is Rome. Which one is cheaper? buy return ticket to and from Milan plus train ticket from Rome to Milan OR multi city ticket where you will be landing in Milan, depart from Rome?
- Avoid holiday periods such as school break and year end.
- Long layover will give you lower price. Still, there will be extra money to spend while waiting at the airport.
- Join a frequent flyer and subscribe mailing list to get early bird or promo notification
- Read carefully about airlines rules of checked baggage.
- Delete your cookies/history when searching for flight (I’m not a tech savvy but from what I read, it will impact to the price shown in your selected date)
- If you have plenty of time, consider to multi stop over flight instead of non-stop flight. It will save your money.
To talk about this topic, we need to be on the same page that travel style or comfort level is different from one person to another. Some people don’t mind sleeping on the simple dorm as long as it is cheap. And some people don’t mind to pay extra money to get proper sleep. For this reason, if we discuss about what kind of accommodation will you choose, it depends on how much money you do have and your travel style.
- Set the budget. And remember, you get what you pay.
- How many people do you traveling with? If you go with 4 people, sometimes it cheaper to book one room with 4 beds than 2 private rooms
- Hotel or Airbnb?
- Hotel is not always more expensive than Airbnb. For example, I paid 100 USD for 3 nights for a room for 3 people in Marriot hotel in Financial District, New York. The best deal ever.
- Airbnb has facilities to make you feel like home. They usually provide kitchen, laundry machine, and car park.
- Location and transportation. If you stay in the city, you will need to spend more money to pay the lodge. Even so, you may save money as interesting places are within walking distance. Do the calculation before booking
- Use your networking. You can try your luck to stay at your friends’ or relatives’ place. You may also seek opportunity to save your money by staying at local people’ house. I stayed in Wisma Nusantara while visiting Cairo as recommendation from my friend. This lodge was formerly BJ Habibie’s house (former Indonesia’s president) which then donated to Indonesia’s Student Association (PPI) in Cairo. They renovated the house to be an accommodation which all profit is dedicated to build public library for PPI students.
It is important to know yourself before traveling. You will know what you want to see and do. I personally love photography. Furthermore, I have less interest to go to beach or relax in fancy resort in a tranquil island. In early years of my traveling career, I have tendency to go wherever my friends took me. Situation is different now, no matter how tempting the offer is, I always try to ask myself, will I enjoy that trip?
Research is the key. You MUST have knowledge about your journey. In this 21st century, we are spoiled by technology. There are tons of sources you can utilize, for example travelers blog, social media, tourism board website, Tripadvisor, lonely planet, travel sites, or you can even check tours offered by travel agent. Learn on how they manage the itinerary. Don’t be lazy. Do your homework. We are adult enough to know what we want and how to achieve it. If you are not into research, the options are to join the tour (which will cost you more) or be a followers. It’s up to you.
- Do research and list your wish.
- Find out if you are able to self guided or need to join local tour. If necessary, I prefer join local tour to a tour from my country. Besides cost saving, it will contribute to local economy and create network with local people. Make new friends and experience new things, right?
- When you are exploring the city, check if transportation pass is available.
- Some cities offer free tour or free activities to do.
- Book online in advance gives you discount and secure the seat if it’s limited.
- If the place you wish to see is located outside the city, do comparison whether you have to rent a car or use public transportation/taxi. Note: car rental is not always the cheapest option (rent cost, insurance, fuel, one way return fee)
- To get a glance overview, create cluster by overlaying interest places with transportation map. It will save your time and money. Don’t forget to include other places such as mosque, hospital, and embassy.
- If you love to local cuisines, spare your time to find out the best restaurant in town
- For a city with no public transportation, you may try to rent car, bike, or motorcycle.
Are you ready to go now? Have you decided where to go? Check out my next post for more stories 😉