Hubby and I are going on our annual holiday at the end of the month. Our main destination, the magnificent 9th century Buddhist monument called Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia.
To get there, we will first fly to Jakarta, then take a connecting flight to Yogyakarta which is the gateway to Borobudur. The plan is to see the monument at sunrise (around 5am) because apparently, this is how it looks like then:
After our ‘pilgrimage’ to Borobudur, we’ll spend a day in the area, head back to Jakarta by overnight train, explore the bustling capital for a day and a half, then fly back home to Manila.
We will be leaving in a few weeks but we have already managed to save a little under 30,000 bucks (or roughly US$670). How? We just did the following:
1. Book early for cheap airline tickets
The bulk of our savings comes from our very cheap airline tickets. Even a month prior to the trip, round trip Manila-Jakarta tickets for two cost Php28, 391! (This does not include insurance.) We booked our tickets last February during the Cebu Pacific Piso Sale. The price: Php4 for two round-trip tickets plus Php5, 466 for the rest! This includes tax, fuel surcharge fees, baggage allowance and insurance. That’s a whopping Php22, 921 savings right there! Please note that you need a credit card to use this service.
2. Take advantage of online special offers
We usually book our accommodations through hotel reservation websites. My favorite is Agoda not only for its ease of use but also because it’s the only website that accepts PayPal payments. The good thing about using a reservation website is that it offers big discounts. Compared to their published rates, some hotels give as much as 50% off when you book through sites like Agoda. For this trip, I snagged a 50% discount for our 2-night stay in MaxOne Hotel in Jakarta. So instead of paying US$69/night, we only paid US$35/night online. For the two nights, that’s a total savings of US$68 or Php2, 924.
3. Sleep at the airport or take an overnight train
Since we’re arriving in Jakarta (from Manila) at 11:55PM, we’ve decided to sleep at the airport and take the earliest flight to Yogyakarta which is 6AM the next day. We’ve also decided to take an overnight train from Yogyakarta back to Jakarta to save on hotel money. So for not sleeping in a hotel for two nights, we’re saving a total of US$70 or Php3,010.
All in all, our savings come up to Php28,855 or US$671! Of course this does not include our food and pasalubong expenses yet (I will give a more detailed breakdown after the trip).
Final note. Travelling need not be expensive. All you need is careful planning and an alert ear for airline sales and special offers. Once you’re on the road, there are also other ways to stick to your budget, thus keeping your finances under control. Take advantage of some websites that offer tools to keep your financial affairs organized even when you’re on your dream holiday. Some sites can give you a free credit report online, which is handy if you use your credit card often as it helps prevent ID fraud. Others allow you to keep track of your travel expenses such as meals and cab fares. Still, others let you manage your bills and household expenses even if you’re thousands of miles away from home.
We still have a few weeks to go before the trip. But we’re really excited knowing that we’ll be able to move around more freely because we will have more cash in our pockets.