Six months around Asia for only P100K

Posted at 10/10/12 8:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Travel blogger Lois Yasay surely knows how to stretch her budget, having been able to travel across Asia on a budget of P100,000.

Starting with India, Yasay and her friend went to Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia over a span of six months.

In an interview on ANC’s “On the Money,” Yasay said the hardest part was saving up for the trip.

“We saved up P100,000 for a year. We set aside a certain amount every month from our paycheck. It was a bit tough because, you know, we had to create a separate savings account you can’t easily take money from,” she said.

“And we sort of cheered each other on and you really need to have a buddy for that,” she added. “Towards the end, we had to sell some stuff, like our clothes and shoes.”

The next challenge, she said, is planning the trip itself.

“The itinerary was very important because what you don’t want to do when you’re on a budget is you backtrack. So you just keep going, you don’t go to places you’ve already seen," she said.

“You have to pay attention to the weather as well because you don’t want to travel when it’s raining out a lot.”

Yasay currently runs a blog with her friend aptly called www.wearesolesisters.com, where she shares her travel experiences.

During the ANC show, she gave a lot of useful tips on how others can reach as many places in the world without hurting the pocket.

Here are some of them:

On booking flights

“Know when you are able to get away, when you can travel and when you are able to get vacation leaves.”

“A year would be ideal to plan if it’s a long trip. But if it’s a short trip, like two weeks, maybe two months or a month of planning will do.”

“Start saving, start identifying which places you want to go because it’s always good to think of the cost of the visa, how the weather is going to be there, or if it is the peak tourist season or is it cheaper because it’s off-season.”

On accommodations

“Prepare a budget. Are you comfortable with staying with a local family, or are you more comfortable in a hotel?”

“Skip hotels. Try hostels, vacation rentals or homestays, especially if you want to soak in the local culture. Stay with a local family.”

“If it’s peak season in a certain place, you have to plan ahead. There will be a lot of people going there and all the prices are going to skyrocket.”

On unplanned expenses

“There will always be a lot of unplanned expenses, such as when you miss your flight, had an emergency visa run, or medical costs.”

“Always put a buffer every time you budget your trip. It’s up to you, but 30% would be advisable.”

On scams

“Sometimes, you get into scams or bad deals. Do your research very well. Talk to a lot of travelers who have been to where you’re going. Ask them if they’ve had a bad experience. Also go with your gut feel.”

“Some scams to watch out for? In Bangkok, the most common scam is you get a tuktuk, a small vehicle to take you to the temples. And they will always tell you every single time that the temples are closed for whatever reason and that they would bring you to these jewelry shops and will force you to buy all those souvenirs. It’s terrible.”

“As foreigners, you know they would always give you a higher price. Haggle and cut down their opening price by at least 50%.”

“Other scams to watch out for include currency exchange and transportation. Some drivers would jack up prices to up to 200%.”

On handling money

“Another way to stretch your budget is to travel over land. If you can skip air travel, like do a ferry or bike ride, or take the local transportation, do it.”

“Keep track of your expenses. Write them down daily. It really helps a lot.

“I access my money when I travel in three ways – through dollar bills, traveler’s cheques and ATM. Although you’re spending money in terms of accessing your funds overseas, it’s like keeping it in the safest place possible. Nobody can steal the money from you if you store it in the ATM.”