Having booked the tickets to a new destination for the upcoming holidays, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty of planning or estimating the budget. What are the things that we will be looking at?
Is breakfast included with your hotel bookings? What are your usual dietary habits? Heavy lunch or heavy dinner? Are you planning to coincide the trip with a special occasion? Some restaurants have online menus with prices. Research before going!
For the modern cities around the world, there is most probably a mobility card of some sort that covers public transport across a few days for a fixed fee. Try to find out their costs and what it covers before leaving. In certain cases, you could try asking the tourist information counter at the international airports. As for the rest, prepare some small change in the local currency in advance. You don’t want to show off your $50 bill for a $2 ticket.
I usually skip this part due to the higher cost of international roaming. You are on a holiday, any phone calls could be put off. But in the circumstances that you couldn’t do so, get the local SIM card for cheaper calls. Certain mobile companies sell international prepaid cards which you can buy before heading off to your destination.
We can’t live without it. Same for the phone calls, get the local SIM card with 3G enabled for uninterrupted surfing at the local rate. For work, try to ask your hotel for any free wi-fi access. Certain couchsurfers would offer theirs for free. In a worse case scenario, pay the hotel for the broadband charges.
5) Entry Fees/Tours
Planning to visit some museums? Going for a short day tour? You can plan these in advance. List down your preference and do a survey online regarding a one-card-pays-all to save money. For instance, the Paris Museum Pass covers most of the famous museums in Paris, and you could even visit them as frequent as you want within the timeframe stated!
6) Credit Card/ATMs
If you’re trying to withdraw cash overseas via the ATMs, please do a double-check with your bank. Do not be surprised if you don’t and found yourself paying for this particular service each time you withdraw money from the ATMs at foreign destinations. I prefer to bring along enough cash and to use the credit cards as last minute backups, in case of emergencies.
7) Exchange Rates
My preference in this issue would be to ask the money exchanger what was the lowest ever exchange rate between the foreign currency and the local over the last few years. My timeframe would be around a year before departure. Giving you plenty of time to exchange when the rates are low. For my Europe trip in 2012, I exchanged for Euros when the rates were RM3.90 for every Euro. Now, it’s RM4.40 per Euro. It is a significant chunk of difference if you are planning on carrying some big bucks. This works vice-versa.
Last but not least, the must-do of all vacations — shopping. This could be either for the relatives and friends back home or it could be for yourself. Set a limit if you’re on a tight budget but if you have loads to spare, do nothing.