The best way to save money when it comes to travelling is to plan early


By LEESAN

People who have to travel for business usually look for the most direct route or shortest flight times, while people who are on vacation can afford to spend more time on transit, for example. — Pexels

Business trips, last-minute trips and meticulously planned trips ... they may seem similar but are not really the same. For instance, the ticket prices will definitely be different, and when it comes to profitability, that will not be the same, too.

My friend Ling is a chartered business consultant. She’s 32 years old and well-paid, and works hard both during the day and night. But due to the nature of her job, she often has to make last-minute business trips.

“I always have to drag my little luggage with me in a rush in order to catch a flight or train. When I reach my destination, I go straight to the client’s office. Even though I fly in business class, stay in 5-star hotels and dine at expensive restaurants at these destinations, they are all for work. There’s no time at all for me to slow down and enjoy all those facilities available,” Ling shares.

Even so, there are some people who tend to make fun of Ling for not appreciating or utilising all the luxuries offered to her through her work, without realising that she has been mentally and physically stressed out for years. She is even suffering from really bad gastrointestinal and spinal problems!

Meanwhile, Liu, 41, is the assistant to an owner of a chain store. On paper, his job may seem easy, but in reality he is just as busy as his boss. He had earlier promised to take his wife and family for a holiday overseas at least once a year, no matter how busy his schedule was. Unfortunately, it seems like whenever his children are on their school break, things are also extremely busy at work for Liu. When this happens, he will tell his wife to just go on vacation without him. But instead of being happy about this, his wife will ask, “Why can’t you pre-plan our family vacations?”

Liu says he always tries his best to plan for the family holiday, but there are times when he just can’t get out of a work commitment. And when his wife tries to make last-minute changes or plans for a trip with just her and the kids, understandably they would have to spend more on flights and accommodation.

A travel fair is one of the best places to find tours and flight tickets at low prices. Packages sold here often come with lots of value-added offers too. — Apple VacationsA travel fair is one of the best places to find tours and flight tickets at low prices. Packages sold here often come with lots of value-added offers too. — Apple Vacations

Westerners in general tend to plan for their travels and holidays well ahead of time. They will usually plan for their trip one year in advance – from choosing where to go and stay, what to see and do, and even what to wear! Some would have the basic information on museums, exhibitions, musicals and other top attractions of the city or country they’re headed to at their fingertips, and will read up about the local history, geography, food and culture before departure.

In short, they really do their research before flying off!

It is often said that the early bird catches the worm. This is something you need to take heed, as you can sometimes enjoy discounts and special promotions if you plan ahead. We all know that air tickets, hotel rooms and tour fees have all gotten quite pricey these days, and could do with any type of value-added offers.

Major airline companies, especially, still do offer savings for early ticket purchases – and when I say early, I mean months in advance. Sometimes, you can get up to a 45% discount on early bird tickets on Malaysia Airlines, while Japan Airlines has 45-day special early bird fares for domestic flights. Many other commercial airlines has this promotion too.

I’m sure you all know that most budget airlines in the region will do the same thing too (they’d usually sell you the tickets first and schedule the flights later).

At the same time, hotels and resorts also offer early bird discounts for travellers. For example, in Taiwan, 5-star hotels with high-end restaurants would often offer the “best prices” for dining experiences; all you need to do is to purchase a voucher six months ahead.

In short, if you plan your trip early, you are bound to enjoy substantial savings.

It seems that young people are much more aware of the benefits of planning their trips early, especially free independent travellers (or FIT). However, many wage earners find it hard to plan their trips well ahead of time these days because of work commitments.

Some would often just get their hands on the cheap air tickets first, and worry about taking time off work later.

The reality is, many people have experienced unexpected twists in their careers due to the highly unpredictable changes taking place during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, and even now. Many are not earning enough to make ends meet. As such, it is essential that we plan our expenses prudently for any untoward situation.

We will have quite a number of long weekends in 2023, and I believe this is a boon for the travel industry. Do expect higher tour fees (as well as ticket and hotel room prices) during peak holiday seasons. But if you book early, you may well enjoy some savings and even unexpected perks!

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.


Leesan, the founder of Apple Vacations, has travelled to 136 countries, seven continents and enjoys sharing his travel stories and insights. He has also authored five books.

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