After months of preparation, I could not be more excited to be here. It’s actually quite surreal that I am here and that I’ll be traveling to all these cities and countries with my best friends.
A lot of people do tell me that I am lucky to be able to go on this trip—and for a month!
I, too, am grateful and feel so lucky, but I know it’s not completely luck. It took a lot of hard work and determination to really get this trip going, which meant a lot of research. And for those who like to “wing it” or “go with the flow,” you can do that, but you’ll be wasting a lot of time and money that way.
I say that because I used to be one of those people who wanted to take it day by day especially on vacation. I didn’t like to plan and I wanted things to be spontaneous. That was complete wishful thinking.
If doing a little homework can prepare you for your trip, help you save money, and ensuring your safety, why not? So if you like to save money and have fun, read on:
Be as flexible with your travel dates and times as possible.
This tip is on every savvy travel writer’s blogs because it’s so true! If you’re flexible with the days and times you fly and land you’re bound to save a lot more money.
For example, I originally wanted to fly out of New York on November 4 and return December 1 but that didn’t happen. The prices were way higher than the flight I have now, with me flying out November 3 at 3 p.m. and returning on November 30 2 p.m. However, I understand it is in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day, but if you can do this, your wallet with thank you.
Search airports that are outside your comfort zone.
I found a flight flying out of Newark Airport in New Jersey to Hong Kong rather than the usual JFK in New York and I suspect that helped me save on my flight. People from New York don’t typically fly from there but I was ok with it because it’s just on the other side of Staten Island, and it’s a big airport so I know it’ll be legitimate. The only bad thing is that it’s an unfamiliar area for my parents, and so they got lost going home haha.
Know when to splurge and when to save
Though I emphasize flexibility and venturing to airlines you might not usually take, sometimes it’s worth the splurge.
If you know an airline is terrible or causes more headache than help, skip it! Saving yourself a little bit of money is worth the hassle you’re going to face like baggage fees, consistent cancelled flights, or dealing with airports that are far away from where you’re staying.
I was pretty surprised with United Airlines because I saw some bad reviews, but I know the airline overall isn’t that terrible, so I decided to stick with it. I mean it was no Cathay—they didn’t offer green tea ice cream, no cup noodles, only limited to free wine and soft drinks, not as much leg room, and not as many Chinese-speaking flight attendants to assist the patrons— but they ultimately got me to my destination!
It was definitely better than China Eastern, which Maggie, my companion took. She ended up with an unexpected cancellation—as in it wasn’t communicated with her that her flight had been cancelled until she went to the agent the day of her flight! That’s insane and unprofessional. They did stick her in a hotel in Shanghai for a night, but according to her, it was cold, dirty, and uncomfortable. 😦
Utilize your tools
If you ask anyone what I was most excited about while planning on this trip, they will all tell you the same thing: Google Maps.
Using Maps, I am able to see where the attractions and activities I want to go/do are, and then I am able to group them into the same day, which means saving on traveling expenses.
We also have a Google Sheets document, and it has been the second best thing created. It’s a detailed list of our itineraries for the cities we’re visiting.
Thank you, Uber for taking over the car service life. Taxi and cab drivers everywhere might hate you, but travelers who want to save money thank you.
However, do realize you’re on vacation and spending money is inevitable. You can budget yourself but you’re also going to be tempted to spend since you are half way around the world!
Take a seat, this is going to be one helluva joyride!