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When we think about travelling the world with our buddies by our side, we’re instantly buzzing with excitement for the endless adventures we could have, all without parental supervision! However, it’s not long before something rains on our parade, drenching us with the stench of good ol’ reality. That something has a name – expenses.

Getting by on a (usually not-very-generous) allowance has always been the bane of every student’s existence and the everyday struggle is real. Spreading out your finances between food, socializing and travel expenses can already be a headache.

However, travelling with a bunch of your homies isn’t impossible. According to the Student Marketing Youth Travel Consultancy, youth tourism is on the rise with the student and educational travel market expected to reach 300 million arrivals by 2020, representing US$320 billion in market value.

That said, how can you travel on a student’s tight budget? Here’re 5 budget travelling ‘hacks’ to spare you from burning a huge hole in your wallet.

1.    Use Skyscanner to Book Your Plane Tickets

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Purchasing plane tickets can take up a huge chunk of your travelling expenses, therefore getting the best deals for your flights will definitely save you more than just a pretty penny.

Skyscanner is the go-to global search site for travelling on the cheap. It provides a platform for instant online comparisons for thousands of flights on hundreds of airlines, in addition to car hires and hotel bookings.

Basically, Skyscanner sifts out the best prices on offer and directs you straight to the relevant sites where you can then make your bookings. Furthermore, you also bypass the chore of going through middlemen, for example: travel agents, to get your tickets, saving a ton of time. No complications and zero hassle.

But besides just using Skyscanner to book your tickets, it is also important to get on it early snatch those plane tickets.

Yishun Junior College graduate, Alison Tan, 19, who went on her graduation trip to Hong Kong, stresses that “ the pre-planning before you go on your trip is crucial!”

“When it comes to booking your plane tickets, you really don’t wanna compete with the vacation crowd so it is best to book your plane tickets way in advance.”

2.    Stay in Guesthouses Instead of Hotels

 When it comes to travelling, time is just as precious as money. Nobody travels halfway across the globe just to hibernate inside their rooms all day. Considering that you’re probably only going to need a place to crash for a couple of hours every night and to house your luggage (and your shopping), splurging on a fancy hotel room just isn’t a smart move.

A guesthouse is traditionally a small, privately owned homestead that rents out rooms to travellers, costing as little as SGD$50 a night at Duri House in South Korea. As a bonus, you will typically be taken care of by your host, who might even cook for you.

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Guesthouses are also a great avenue to immerse yourself in local culture because you’ll experience living in a local’s home in a foreign land firsthand. A great way to look for such guesthouses and other unique accommodations is through airbnb, which lists a variety of accommodation options based on your preference and price range.

Mandy, known on her budget travelling blog as ‘buttergoesbudget’, also recommends staying at a guesthouse, as it’s one of the ways she cut down on cost when she went to South Korea.

She mentions in her blog that her guesthouse was “affordable, convenient as it was near the subway station and well-facilitated with water heaters, hair dryers, a fridge and other basic necessities.” When Mandy travelled to South Korea last year, she managed to spend only SGD$1,600 despite spending 12 days there!

3.   Apply For an International Student Identification Card for Discounts

 If you’re a full-time student aged 12 and above, applying for an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) is potentially one of the best budget travelling hacks, not just overseas but locally as well!

All you need to do is sign up at the ISIC website with your identification information and confirm your full time student status then you’re good to go!

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Having an ISIC entitles you to serious savings on things like airfare, accommodation, entertainment, museums, food, clothes, movies and more. The best part is that your card can access over 40,000 discounts that lasts a full year for the low application fee of SGD$25. You’re welcome.

No longer a student? Fret not. Anyone under 30 can get an International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) instead. And if you’re a full-time teacher or professor, apply for an International Teacher Travel Card (ITTC). Both cards give you access to similar offers to the ISIC.

 4.   Shop at Premium Outlets

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 If retail therapy soothes your soul, then shopping at a Premium Outlet could be heaven on earth for you. A Premium Outlet is an insane, upsized version of a shopping mall featuring dozens of brands, from affordable fashion labels like Forever21, H&M, American Eagle Outfitter, Levi’s to designer houses like Armani, Coach and Gucci – but at highly discounted rates.

As the cherry on top, the more you buy, the greater the discount. These shopping havens can be found around the world such as in Japan, Korea, North America, Mexico, Europe and even Johor Bahru.

 5.    Keep Track of Your Spending

When it comes to expenditure, it’s important to take note where your money goes or you’ll open up your wallet to find that you’ve mysteriously spent all your dosh.

Natalie Choong, a National University of Singapore student who recently went on vacation to Borocay advices, “ there’s a couple of things that you sometimes overlook but which you need to research on before going for your trip, like how much tax you need to pay and how much the activities cost and so on. From there, you’ll be able to budget your spending accordingly.”

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The Trail Wallet App helps with budgeting your spending on a daily basis, tracking exactly how much you’ve spent, where you’ve spent it and how much (or little) you have left. Gone are the days of collecting scraps of receipts to keep tabs on your expenditure.

And there you have it, budget travelling made simple. Certainly, these aren’t the only ways to ‘hack’ budget travelling and the possibilities are endless. Who knows where you can save on next? So what are you waiting for? Bon voyage!


Tell us what you think about these budget-travelling hacks in the ‘Comments’ section below!

Photo courtesy of Alison Tan, Japan Premium Outlet’s Facebook page, Singapore Airline’s Facebook page, Guesthouse The Hill’s Facebook page and ISIC’s Facebook page