DIY travelling sounds like so much work. From the booking of flights, accommodation and insurance to structuring the entire itinerary… It’s a headache just thinking of how much has to be done for a single trip overseas! But what if we told you it was actually really easy? Trip planning doesn’t have to be tough at all! All you have to do is break it down into a few simple steps and you’ll be all set to go!
1. Booking Your Flight
If you are looking to go on a free-and-easy trip, scout out some of the best and cheapest flights on websites such as Skyscanner or KAYAK. Not only is it cheaper to buy your air tickets directly from these sites, there is also greater flexibility in your choice of departure and return dates compared to if these transactions were made via a travel agent.
You should also be on the lookout for awesome flight deals provided by various airlines and compare the promotional prices accordingly! Like their Facebook pages to always stay updated on their most recent happenings and travel deals. Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, SilkAir, Jetstar, AirAsia, Scoot and more constantly push out irresistible deals that guarantee massive savings!
Be sure to book your flights at least two months in advance and not just before your trip because prices would have skyrocketed by then.
2. Booking Your Accommodation
Once you’ve got your flights settled, it’s time to look for affordable accommodations! With sites like Agoda and Expedia, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice at the array of hotel options available out there. Those who are looking for cheaper alternatives can also consider trying out Airbnb or Homeaway. With DIY travelling, you get to pick the type of room that caters to all your needs (and budget of course!), be it luxurious chic or eclectic chill.
One key advice for travellers when booking your accommodation, is to read reviews left by other travellers so that you know exactly what you’re paying for and getting into. Location is definitely a huge factor to consider when booking your accommodation, because it determines the accessibility and convenience of transport as you travel around. Look out for reviews about the cleanliness of the rooms as well, and if you need to do your laundry, make sure that your accommodation has laundry services or a washing machine available for you.
Have fun browsing, choose the one you want, and book promptly online – yes, it’s that easy!
3. Doing Your Research
Image credit: Hamza Butt
The best part about DIY travelling is that your budget and itinerary are completely UP TO YOU! It’s free and easy and you get to choose activities you’re truly interested in and feel comfortable doing.
Deciding your itinerary:
Before your trip, you’ll want to plan a loose itinerary based on the number of days you’ll be travelling and the amount of money you’ll roughly be spending. It’s totally free and easy, you get to choose activities you’re truly interested in and feel comfortable doing.
Also, you don’t have to feel rushed or pressured by time as compared to when you join a tour! You get to control the amount of time you spend at each attraction, and if you’re feeling under the weather, you could also just laze around at the beach with a cocktail and book in hand.
Make a list noting down all the places you might want to visit, including famed landmarks, scenic spots, museums shopping haunts, and even delicious food haunts. If you’re completely lost, a simple Google search will give you some ideas on things you might want to see or do.
Once you’ve got a list of things to do in mind, it’s good to create an Excel spreadsheet so you can plan out your itinerary properly, based on the locations of these attractions. You definitely do not want to be wasting your precious time on transport instead of visiting these interesting places. So group the attractions that are located in a particular area or location together, so you can maximise your time spent at each location wisely.
Figuring out your mode of transport:
Plan your trip spontaneously, but be sure to keep some structure in place. Do take note of how you’re going to get around from place to place as well. If you’re going to be using public transportation most of the time, make sure you’ve done all the necessary research before your trip. Know the relevant bus number you have to take or the train station you need to stop at.
In many instances, Google Maps will be your best friend Image credit: Outdoor Blueprint
Google Maps is the ultimate lifesaver for all DIY travellers, and better yet, it’s completely FREE. Bookmark the locations that you want to visit, and Google will help you plan your route, as well as give you the estimated time needed to complete the entire course.
All you have to do is make sure you have Google Maps on your phone and you’re good to go! The GPS location tracker along with Google Maps work offline once you’ve saved it, so you don’t even have to rely on WiFi coverage to find your directions. This is a huge relief considering how one’s WiFi connection can get pretty cranky overseas.
4. Setting your budget
A large part of how much a vacation cost is how much you decide to spend. If you’re going to splurge on luxuries like 5-star-hotels and meals at fancy restaurants, it’s going to cost you a whole lot more than if you were to be rooming in hostels and eating at take-outs.
Always overestimate how much you’ll be spending because it’s better to have extra money as opposed to a cash deficiency. A good way to keep your budget in check would be to set a daily spending limit for yourself!
5. Learning the local language
If you’re going to a country that speaks a different language, make time to learn some conversational starters. This will serve you well in the event that you find yourself needing directions, help from locals, or even while bargaining as you shop around!
6. Buying travel insurance before you fly
Last but not least, travel insurance is a MUST-HAVE before flying off for any trip! In the event of a missing luggage, injury or theft, make sure that you’re prepared for the worse. One important tip for saving costs on travel insurance is to buy it well in advance to enjoy major discounts! Or you could opt to buy in bulk if travelling as a couple, or a group of friends. Always good to be safe than sorry!
Rome Image credit: Bert Kaufmann
From flights and accommodation to researching for your trip and buying insurance, we’ve got you covered! As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Venture out of your comfort zone, immerse yourself in the local culture, and don’t be overly ambitious in trying to cover all the tourist attractions. Just bask in the moment and HAVE FUN!